WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service and its two largest employee unions failed to reach agreement on a new contract by a midnight deadline Monday but continued informal talks.
With no threat of a strike, negotiators maintained hope that an accord could be reached to forestall a costly and complex arbitration process that could stretch into the Christmas season.
The American Postal Workers Union and the National Assn. of Letter Carriers, which together represent 579,000 employees, said earlier Monday that they had reduced their wage increase proposals from 6.8% to 4.5% for each of three years.
Union officials said "conversations" between the two sides still were going on at a Washington hotel early today.
Strikes by Postal Service employees are illegal under federal law, and the last time they walked off their jobs en masse was in 1970.