Improved Grievance-Arbitration System:

A Key to Better Labor Relations in the Postal Service

GGD-80-12: Published: Nov 28, 1979. Publicly Released: Nov 28, 1979.

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Approximately 578,000 Postal Service employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements between the Postal Service and four national unions. The grievance-arbitration system, established through collective bargaining, is a key element in labor relations within the Postal Service. Unfortunately, the grievance-arbitration system has become congested with grievances that have caused high operation and personnel costs.

The Postal Service has not been able to achieve effective management control of grievances for the following reasons: inadequate documentation of grievances; insufficient labor relations staffing and a lack of staff independence; inadequate grievance processing and labor relations training; inadequate communication of labor relations and contract information to local levels; a lack of grievance monitoring at the facility level; and a lack of accountability at the local level for labor relations problems. Although labor relations personnel were generally responsible for administering the grievance-arbitration system, the grievances themselves transcended organizational lines. The problems involved individuals and situations from all postal operations. Steps have been taken to improve labor relations training and to establish a grievance monitoring mechanism, but more needs to be done. At some postal facilities, it was observed that local unions were undercutting the effectiveness of the grievance-arbitration system by initiating and appealing unwarranted grievances, thereby creating an increased adversary relationship.

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