APWU Web News Article #079-09, July 16, 2009
The presidents of the four major postal unions have asked the White House to address the “deepening crisis” facing the Postal Service, asserting that “the Obama administration must intervene now to avoid both a political and economic train wreck.”
“The recession has had a severe impact on the Postal Service’s finances,” the union leaders wrote to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, “and the situation has deteriorated significantly” since they met with White House staffers in March.
A financial collapse of the nation’s mail system “would pose a dire threat to the administration’s recovery plan,” the letter said. “Fortunately, such a collapse can be averted without resort to a taxpayer bailout, by reforming the retiree health prefunding provisions of the law. The Postal Service needs immediate relief from a law adopted in 2006, which requires the Postal Service to prefund its future retiree health liabilities,” the union presidents wrote.
“No other government agency or private company in America is required to prefund at all,” they noted, “much less on such an accelerated schedule.”
Congress is attempting to find a solution with H.R. 22, the letter said, but is hindered by “questionable rules” of the Congressional Budget Office that “score” (calculate the “cost” of) intergovernmental transfers, the letter said.
“But it is increasingly clear that this legislation will not be enough to solve the crisis,” the union presidents wrote. “A policy decision must be made at the highest levels on whether it makes sense to sacrifice the future viability of the Postal Service to comply with a misguided policy devised by the previous administration that is, in any case, no longer appropriate in the current economic environment.”
“There is a need to look at long-term structural reforms to help the USPS survive in the Internet age,” the union presidents said, “but the current crisis is not the result of changing technology. Rather, it stems from two factors: the collapse of several mail-intensive sectors of the economy (housing, real estate, finance, etc.) and the excessively onerous prefunding requirements adopted in 2006. If not for the prefunding requirements, the USPS would be able to weather the economic crisis.”
Signing the letter were APWU President William Burrus, National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric V. Rolando, National Rural Letter Carriers Association President Don Cantriel and National Postal Mail Handlers President John F. Hegarty.