Lieberman, Carper Join Republicans to Support Changes
An amendment to a bill to provide temporary financial relief to the cash-strapped Postal Service was adopted by a Senate committee July 29, rendering the bill unacceptable to the APWU.
“We oppose, on principle, legislation that interferes with the collective bargaining process,” said APWU President William Burrus.
The amendment to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Funding Reform Act of 2009 (S. 1507), offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), would require any binding arbitration in the negotiation of postal contracts to take the financial health of the Postal Service into account. Under current law, arbitrators must consider the “comparability” of postal wages to employees in the private sector who perform similar work.
“In fact, arbitrators routinely consider the Postal Service’s financial status as part of the context in which negotiations are conducted,” Burrus said. “However, to attach this specific requirement to the law leaves workers at a severe disadvantage, and makes the bargaining process more subject to manipulation.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government information, Federal Services and International Security, supported the amendment, and voted with committee Republicans for its adoption.
“We are deeply disappointed that lawmakers we have supported voted for this reactionary amendment,” Burrus said. “We will do everything we can to defeat it.”