CORRECTION: Please note that this article has been corrected. The Sector News incorrectly stated that the GPO: "wants to combine duties of various chapel personnel and call them Journeypersons." That sentence should have read: "GPO wants to combine duties of various sections and call them printer-journeypersons rather than printer-proofreaders or keyboard operators." The article below has been changed to reflect that correction.
Updated: October 16, 2012
Government Printing Office (GPO) head, Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks and members of the GPO management staff have requested to reopen a historic 40-year old Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the GPO and the Columbia Typographical Union 101-12.
The MOU contains roughly 80 articles that set work rules for the agency and hasn’t been opened to negotiations since 1972.
CTU 101-12 represents 163 non-supervisory craft employees at GPO.
In January, the GPO for talks on the MOU with the union to update what management considers outdated items. The union has resisted reopening the MOU out of concern that the agency would try to take away benefits covered in the existing agreement. The union’s resistance was eventually met with a Failure to Negotiate claim naming both the Union and Chapel Chairman Mike Cullen.
Cullen says management wants to place a three-month timeline on negotiations. Failing to reach an agreement in that time would send negotiations to Federal Mediation and then to Federal Service Impasses Panel. "Cautiously reviewing the MOU and coming to an agreement cannot be accomplished in only three months," said Cullen.
Cullen and the other committee members, Bob Stevenson, Mike Divvers, Dolores Slack, Deborah Stewart and Kenneth Fatkin, have pushed back, citing a clause from the existing MOU which states that the agreement “shall be in existence and enforced until a new agreement is ratified.”
Cullen says the committee is proceeding cautiously, examining the reopened MOU item-by-item and article-by-article. The committee meets weekly for about three or four hours. “We want to be sure we are not giving up any of the benefits we currently have in place,” Cullen said. PPMWS Attorney Richard Rosenblatt has also been assigned by Sector President Daniel Wasser to assist the committee with in negotiations.
According to Cullen, the GPO wants to combine duties of various sections and call them printer-journeypersons rather than printer-proofreaders or keyboard operators. With this type of change requested, the union is trying to ensure that no chapels are disbanded. In addition to striving to maintain all chapels, the union is working to ensure that if employees are consolidated into a single printer-journeyperson title, workers are not forced to comply with quotas and standards outside their normal jurisdiction. The GPO wants to merge the duties of both sections, even if you were hired for proof room or in keyboard, it all has to do with the "do more with less" stance the GPO has taken. "We have to protect our employee's rights and jobs," said Cullen.