NALC Press Release
Rolando Pledges Increased Letter Carriers’ Push to Retain Nationwide Saturday Mail Delivery
ANAHEIM, Calif., Aug. 9 – Letter Carriers union President Fredric V. Rolando opened the 67th biennial convention of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) today, pledging to continue to fight the U.S. Postal Service’s “extremely unwise and dangerous plan” to discontinue Saturday mail delivery, while the union works directly with major corporations and postal customers to foster innovations and expansion of the government’s nationwide delivery network.
Rolando said the union’s actions are necessitated because the Postal Service currently is dedicated to cuts in service, not service expansion.
“The very idea of abandoning a day of service, harming customers, forcing them to alternative delivery systems, undercutting public reliance on postal deliveries is so wrong that it borders on the lunatic,” Rolando said in a keynote speech to nearly 8,700 delegates at the Anaheim Convention Center.
He said in recent months, the NALC has begun discussions with major companies both inside and outside the postal industry to explore future uses of the postal network. “I am determined to break through the traditional, excessively conservative USPS style,” he said.
“We want to invite businesses and customers — and our members — to come to us with ideas to explore,” he said.
Rolando said there is a world of possibilities for exploiting the Postal Service’s unmatched last mile network, saying, “We just have to be flexible and open-minded enough to take advantage of them.”
The NALC, which represents 295,000 active and retired city delivery letter carriers in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions, will continue its convention through Friday. It is the largest convention among AFL-CIO affiliated unions.
Rolando acknowledged that future of the Postal Service “must be constructed from the ashes of a great national trauma” caused by the nation’s financial problems.
“So as we turn this week, in this hall, to the troubled times we face, let us not do it with fear, nor with a sense of decline, but with a renewed sense of how strong and determined we are,” he exhorted the delegates, adding that the Postal Service has panicked in the face of the financial troubles, choosing to eliminate Saturday mail delivery instead of finding ways to provide new services to increase revenues.
“The task for us all — employees and the Postal Service — is to act now, while we still have a big, big business, to develop the new products and new services that will take advantage of the huge network of employees and facilities still in place — and of our last mile franchise,” Rolando said.
The union leader explained that the Obama administration and a bipartisan majority of Congress have endorsed the continuation of six-day delivery. On July 29, both the Senate Appropriations Committee and a House Appropriations subcommittee adopted bills that mandate the continuation of Saturday delivery.
The Postal Service and the NALC are confronted with two staggering financial burdens:
USPS has overpaid $75 billion in pension contributions, resulting from a misguided and grossly unfair set of calculations by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) over the past 40 years, and it faces a requirement to pre-fund $87 billion in future retiree health benefits at a cost of $5.5 billion per year.
“No other government agency and no private business — none — are required to pre-fund future retiree health benefits,” he said. “Not one dollar — let alone $5.5 billion per year.”
Rolando also touched on the challenges facing the union in bargaining on a new contract when the current National Agreement expires at the end of next year.
“If the Postal Service approaches bargaining in good faith, and with creativity, it will have a willing partner. If it respects the central role of letter carriers in the future business model and the sacrifices letter carriers have already made to help the Service survive the crisis, we will have productive talks,” Rolando said. “But if the USPS approaches bargaining with the goal of gutting our pay and benefits, or tries to exploit the national economic crisis by making demands for sharp cuts and givebacks, it will have a bloody fight on its hands.”
Rolando noted that the NALC is working closely with Congress to enact legislation that will help the Postal Service out of its financial quagmire, including a bill (H.R. 5746) sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), chairman of the key House postal subcommittee, that would credit the Postal Service with between $50 billion and $75 billion in pension assets unfairly allocated by OPM. Such assets would be used to cover future retiree health benefits and reduce USPS operating expenses by $5-$8 billion annually. On July 21, H.R. 5746 was adopted by the postal subcommittee.
Rolando said the union is also working with the Postal Regulatory Commission on the issue, and said NALC is mobilizing its state and congressional district operations to aggressively lobby members of Congress to back the critical legislation.
SOURCE National Association of Letter Carriers