Postal Service, unions reach impasse in labor talks

Monday - 1/23/2012, 9:07am EST

By Jamie Blanco
Federal News Radio

Labor talks failed this weekend between the Postal Service and two postal unions — the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

The impasse triggers 60 days of mediation. If that fails, an outside arbitrator will decide a final solution.

At issue is how much power the Postal Service will have to alter pay and benefits and issue layoffs.

"I am disappointed by the Postal Service's decision. We have been making steady progress in negotiations, right up through this afternoon. Our negotiations have been innovative, professional and productive and have been conducted at the highest level," said Fredric Rolando, president of NALC, in a statement.

The unions' contracts initially expired Nov. 20. The deadline for talks was then extended twice. The terms of the 2011 national agreement will remain in effect until the completion of those procedures.

The two unions represent more than 242,000 postal workers. Respectively, wages and benefits for NALC- and NPMHU-represented employees exceeded $15.7 billion and $3.5 billion last year, according to a Postal Service release.

Stamp prices going up

At the same time of the negotiation impasse, the price of postage was raised Sunday. First class stamps go up a penny to 45 cents — the first hike in 2-1/2 years. The increase is expected to earn the cash-strapped Postal Service $888 million more in revenue this year.

Federal News Radio's Jolie Lee contributed to this report.

RELATED STORIES

USPS identifies 3,700 post offices for possible closure

USPS financial rescue may not stop 'death spiral'

More USPS stories