The Postal Service’s precarious financial condition has prompted APWU President William Burrus to issue a challenge to Postmaster General Potter:
Discontinue the exorbitant postage discounts that are offered to large mailers — which are currently as high as 10.5 cents per letter — and allow members of the APWU to perform all mail-processing functions at the rate of 10.4 cents for every letter and flat.
“Postal rate-setters continually defend excessive ‘worksharing discounts,’ suggesting that they are good for business,” Burrus said. “But in reality, they are subsidies for big business.
“With the economy faltering, the USPS simply cannot afford to offer giveaways,” he said. “Mail volume has declined in response to the nation’s tough economic climate, so this is a perfect time to return the work performed by private pre-sorters and mail consolidators to postal employees.”
Since the union offer would save the Postal Service one tenth of one cent on each letter and flat, the challenge is a win-win proposition, Burrus said. “I hope that the postmaster general gives it serious consideration.”
Changing the Rules
In 2006, before the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) was passed, the APWU persuaded Congress to amend the law so that it would restrict workshare discounts to amounts equivalent to “the postal cost avoided,” the union president noted.
“The Postal Service and its allies in the mailing industry waged an all-out effort to weaken this provision, and the final law was weakened by exceptions. But even the limited restrictions have come under persistent attack before the Postal Regulatory Commission during its rate-setting process,” he said.
“Facing the reality that ever-increasing workshare discounts can no longer be defended, they are working to change the criteria.”
Since 1976, the postal cost of processing bulk metered letters has been used as the benchmark for determining the USPS-cost-avoided for workshare discounts. “With the continuing efficiencies in postal processing the mailing industry is attempting to persuade the Postal Regulatory Commission, which sets rates, to abandon this 30-year old standard,” Burrus noted.
“Apparently, the mailing industry executives think they can’t win playing by the rules, so they are trying to change them.” The APWU has “intervened” in the proceedings in an effort to stave off the attempt to make the process a sham.