APWU President Slams USPS OIG Over Benefit Progams Audit Report


Burrus Issues Stinging Rebuke To USPS Inspector General
Audit ‘Lacks Relevance, Ignores Legislative Mandate’ to Bargain

APWU President William Burrus slammed the Office of the Inspector General recently, charging that in a September audit report [PDF] on employee benefit programs the office had inserted itself into the collective bargaining arena.

In a Nov. 16 letter [PDF] to Inspector General David Williams, Burrus said, “Simply put, your analysis of the cost of postal benefits compared to those of other federal agencies lacks relevance.”

“The statutory mandate for bargaining has been and continues to be ‘to establish and maintain wages and benefits comparable to the private sector,’” Burrus wrote, “but your analysis compared the USPS negotiated-benefit programs to six federal and five quasi-federal agencies.”

The OIG comparison, the union president said, “has no standing in the bargaining process.” He noted that both the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 and the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 require the Postal Service to bargain with employee unions over wages, benefits, and working conditions.

“USPS contributions to the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) and the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program have been established as a result of legally-required negotiations,” Burrus wrote. “I am troubled that the Office of Inspector General has elected to insert itself into the collective bargaining arena without portfolio. Because the law does not confer such responsibility to the OIG, the audit report serves no constructive purpose.”

Burrus said that he was “particularly offended by the report’s claim that reductions in benefit program contributions represent ‘$1.073 billion in funds put to better use.’

“Your auditors are not positioned to arrive at such a conclusion,” he said.

The APWU president also criticized the Inspector General for the OIG’s failure to address billions of dollars granted to major mailers in excessive worksharing discounts. “Despite the enormity of this loss of revenue, your office has failed to document and analyze this egregious violation of the integrity and accountability of the Postal Service.”

“It is especially troubling that your office has remained silent while the USPS has failed to adjust workshare discounts to reflect the reduction of millions of work hours that resulted from automation. As you undoubtedly know, under the law, as work hours used for mail processing are reduced, the avoided costs reflected in workshare discounts must be reduced proportionally.”

“Rather than producing an irrelevant comparison of postal benefit costs to those in other federal agencies,” Burrus wrote, “your office would better serve the public interest by exposing this collusion between major mailers and postal management.”

Copies of Burrus’ letter to the Inspector General were distributed to the other postal unions.

See Excerpts from the OIG Audit Report posted Nov. 14, 2007