Historically speaking, unions have been formed to ensure fair wages and better working conditions for their members. In addition, unions negotiate with businesses and governments on behalf of employees.
That’s exactly what the seven unions representing USPS employees do for their 550,000 members. In this article, we’ll discuss these unions and look at their impact on the Postal Service.
Does USPS Have a Union In 2023?
Approximately 550,000 USPS employees are represented by seven unions and nine bargaining agreements in 2023. American Postal Workers Union, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, and National Association of Letter Carriers are some of the unions that represent USPS employees. Union negotiations cover wages, benefits, and working conditions. Membership is optional, and non-union members benefit from the collective bargaining agreement.
If you’re curious about the other unions representing USPS employees and what they do, then be sure to check out this article for more facts!
How Many Unions Represent USPS?
Career USPS employees are represented by seven unions and nine collective bargaining agreements.
Are All USPS Workers Unionized?
Union membership is optional for USPS workers. Therefore, not all Postal Service employees are unionized.
That may seem like almost all USPS employees are part of a union, but membership numbers also include former and/or retired USPS employees.
Indeed, in 2020, only 10.8% of USPS workers were part of a union.
What Are the Postal Unions?
As mentioned in a previous section, there are currently seven unions representing USPS employees.
In this section, we’ll list the unions and describe who they cover.
- American Postal Workers Union (APWU) – APWU represents USPS employees and retirees belonging to the Clerk, Maintenance, Motor Vehicle, and Support Services divisions. It also represents about 2,000 private-sector mail workers.
- National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) – Represents Rural Letter Carriers in the United States Postal Service.
- National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) – A national labor union of city letter carriers employed by USPS.
- National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) – A progressive labor union representing Mail Handler craft members (i.e. people who load, unload, prepare, sort, and containerize mail for delivery) in USPS facilities.
- National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS) – Covers active and retired USPS supervisors, managers, and postmasters. Includes members who work in the field, as well those working in marketing, finance, and human resources.
- United Postmasters & Managers of America (UPMA) – A union for postmasters, managers, supervisors, and other USPS employees who aspire to be part of the Executive and Administrative Staff.
- National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees (NAPFE) – An independent, African American-controlled labor union. Covers people who serve as rank and file employees in the federal government and/or the Postal Service.
How Do I Join a USPS Union?
Keep in mind that the process for joining a union may vary from organization to organization. That being said, we’ll provide a general overview of the process:
1. Figure out if you’re eligible
Each union has its own rules for admitting new members, so find out first if you’re eligible to join a union, then narrow down which union you’d like to join.
You may receive information about union membership when you get hired, so we recommend using that information to start your research.
2. Download and complete PS Form 1187
This form, also called Request for Payroll Deductions for Labor Organization Dues, is how you’ll pay for union membership.
You’ll be asked to provide the following information:
- Social Security Number
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Post Office where you work
- Work finance number
- Position type
3. Submit your form
Be sure to make a copy for your records, then give the original to your local shop steward or union president. They will make sure you’re enrolled as soon as possible.
4. Pay your dues
Dues vary by union and location, and include dues established by the national convention and your local union.
Your dues will automatically be deducted from your paycheck, and the amount will be listed on your paystub.
Do Postal Workers Have to Join a Union?
All employees of the Federal Government, including USPS employees, are guaranteed the right to refrain from union membership by law.
That means USPS employees cannot be required to remain a member or pay dues or fees to a union.
Federal government employees are also guaranteed the right to refrain from assisting a union (i.e. they cannot be required to pay fees or dues unless they’ve voluntarily joined a union).
All of that said, even if a USPS employee is not a union member, they are still covered by the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated between the employer and the union.
Essentially, this means that even if a postal worker is non-unionized, they still benefit from the wage, vacation, pension, and health insurance benefits that their division’s union negotiated.
Non-members may be excluded from receiving members-only benefits.
Therefore, they may not be able to participate in union elections or meetings, vote in collective bargaining elections, or participate in “internal” union activities.
Is the Postal Union Strong?
Given that there are seven different unions representing USPS employees, it’s not possible to give a concrete answer to this question.
Still, it’s worth noting that three USPS unions were included in a list of 30 of the most powerful unions in America.
This list includes the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (29th), the American Postal Workers Union (21st), and the National Association of Letter Carriers (19th).
These unions made the list because they have at least 100,000 members, and because some have led strikes that have resulted in better working conditions for employees.
Compared to most American workers, USPS employees have plenty of options when it comes to joining a union. What’s more, these unions have a strong history of negotiating benefits like more vacation time, cost-of-living raises, and improved working conditions.