APWU Sets the Facts Straight on the USPS

APWU  News

APWU President William Burrus has ridiculed assertions about the Postal Service that appeared in a recent column in the E-Commerce Times: “There were so many misstatements in your article,” Burrus wrote [PDF], “I hardly know where to begin.”

In the Oct. 8 article, Theodore di Stefano, a managing partner at an investment banking firm, said six-day delivery is probably a thing of the past, yet failed to mention that the USPS is obligated to deliver mail six days per week by legislation that will likely be renewed by Congress.

“It is virtually certain that Congress will pass a continuing resolution that includes the requirement to continue six-day mail delivery,” Burrus wrote on Oct. 13.

Di Stefano also noted that the cost of first class mail is at an “all-time high,” yet neglected to mention that the USPS is the cheapest mail system in the world.

Burrus mocked di Stefano’s failure to mention the primary cause of Postal Service deficits — the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which requires the USPS to pre-fund retiree healthcare liabilities in the amount of $5.4 to $5.7 billion annually over a 10-year period. This requirement does not apply to any other public agency or private company. The union president also pointed out that two independent audits found that the USPS has overfunded its retirement plans by $50 billion to $75 billion.

“An informed presentation would have reported that the Postal Service’s current deficits are directly related to the resolution of these contested financial obligations,” he said.

In the column, di Stefano proposed re-structuring union contracts, writing that “contracts with postal employees will likely have to be reworked in order to further reduce expenses.”

However, Burrus pointed out, “Contrary to the message presented in your article, the USPS deficit is unrelated to its operating revenue and expenses, which includes the wages and benefits of craft workers.”

The union president concluded his letter by disproving di Stefano’s statement that “most of our important mail is sent electronically to us, leaving us a mostly empty mailbox” and that “business as usual will not work anymore.”

Burrus stated that mail volume, on the contrary, is expected to increase in 2012 as the nation recovers from its worse economic recession in 70 years.

Burrus’ letter refutes claims many anti-postal executives and legislators have made in attempts to cut costs at the expense of postal employees.

“Thank you for spelling the name of our institution, the United States Postal Service, correctly; but I am afraid that is virtually all that was factual in your article,” Burrus wrote.