Burrus Shocked, Disappointed By Retirement of PMG Potter

Responding to news of the retirement of Postmaster General John E. Potter, APWU President William Burrus issued the following statement:

The announcement of Postmaster General John Potter’s retirement comes with shock and disappointment. We have had disagreements on a variety of issues – most notably, the cozy relationship he fostered with major mailers, and the policy of granting them excessive postage discounts. But Potter has always considered the impact his decisions would have on postal employees. Having begun his career as a distribution clerk, he has never overlooked the contribution of workers.

“Contract negotiations must now be viewed in a different light: It is highly unlikely that Potter will commit the next Postmaster General to contractual provisions that are acceptable to the union.”

During Jack Potter’s tenure as Postmaster General, postal workers have faced tough challenges. The uncertainties arising from the expanded use of electronic communication, which has eroded mail volume; the subsequent reassignment of employees, and the restructuring of the postal network have caused severe hardships for many union members. However, Potter’s decisions were driven by changing conditions, and in each instance, he considered the consequences for employees.

In prior years, the union has asked for the resignation of postmaster generals who we identified as anti-worker bureaucrats. But in spite of the many decisions in recent years that had adverse effects on our members, I refrained from projecting blame on John Potter, knowing that his business decisions were made without malice, and that the fallout on employees was unavoidable. The union insisted that the contract be adhered to, and when disagreements arose, we arbitrated our differences.

The most progressive Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated in the history of the Postal Service bears the signature of John Potter: The 2006 contract resulted in the conversion of all part-time flexible employees in large offices to full time; pay increases; consecutive days off for workers in large offices; upgrades for all APWU employees, and numerous other benefits that were achieved with his approval. I seriously doubt that any other past or future Postmaster General would agree to such sweeping changes.

I have no inside information about the reason for Potter’s decision, and no reason to believe that his retirement was demanded by the Board of Governors; but if it was, the Board has made a terrible mistake. The Postal Service is at a crossroads, and its relevance in American society is being questioned. The U.S. Postal Service needs a leader like John Potter to ensure its continued viability.

The Board of Governors has announced that Deputy Postmaster General Patrick R. Donohoe will succeed Potter. I choose not to prejudge his policies regarding employees or his ability to lead the organization at this pivotal period, but filling Potter’s shoes will be a major challenge. Postal workers are losing a strong advocate for the USPS and its employees.

As I enter the final weeks of my career, it is disheartening to know that I leave President-Elect Cliff Guffey and his team with the unsettling fact that they will inherit a new group of postal offi cials whose employment policies have not yet been tested.

Contract negotiations must now be viewed in a different light: It is highly unlikely that Potter will commit the next PMG to contractual provisions that are acceptable to the union. As I have said in many forums, in 2010 a negotiated agreement will require innovation and new ideas. I am very disappointed that Jack Potter will not have the freedom to join Cliff Guffey in finding the pieces that can lead to such an agreement.

The APWU has interacted with Pat Donohoe over the years and we begin the new relationship with an open mind. He should be judged by his decisions as Postmaster General, and that story has yet to be written. He faces major challenges, but I can assure him that APWU will be a strong ally if workers’ concerns are included in his agenda.

6 thoughts on “Burrus Shocked, Disappointed By Retirement of PMG Potter

  1. Really Burass,

    Does your tongue still taste like Potter’s fat ass? The only think worst that Potter was you. Bring back Moe Biller, and he’d still do a better job than you or Potter.

  2. Next contract is no raise to lower grade and death of the no lay off clause!!!!!
    Extra station closing and consolidations. Stamps may soon be a Smithsonian item!

  3. My feeling is that Potter had to go. There were and are too many high profile scandals (see Robert Bernstock, Maryanne Giggons et. al.) at headquarters of all places, for him not to be asked to leave. I don’t believe he would not want to stay at least thru contract negotiations.
    To give him credit, he led the USPS thru a remarkable downsizing effort, all thru attrition, up until he instituted the “National Reassessment program”. This is and was a disgraceful effort to just dump employees that had plenty of work to do that is now either not being done at all or not being done in a timely, regulatory manner. In addition, Potter’s proclamation a year or so ago that the Postal Service is broken left manner people wondering what he was talking about until he made it a self-fulfilling prophecy by breaking it. The internal situation is the worst anyone has ever seen; and has been created by “Doomsday” Jack Potter in an effort to break union contracts and rehire the employees at minimum wage.
    APWU President Bill Burrus is an American hero. Bill has fought for both the employees AND the future of the Postal Service, to keep it from becoming the “political football” that a greedy Congress has bankrupted. How can anyone in Congress say in good conscience that the Postal Service is not viable when they are stealing all the USPS money? Yet that is exactly what they are doing.
    They, Congress, vote themselves 6% raises, don’t enact any significant legislation, spend more and more time getting elected instead of doing their collective jobs; and then hang a $5.5 billion payment on to the USPS that no other federal agency is required to pay, why you might ask, and when the USPS has financial trouble, say that the Postal Service needs to be privatized. Just try and imagine the theft and money laundering that will go on if that happens. And what about security of the mail when they start hiring minimum wage transient workers to sort and deliver the mail. Will you get all yoyur mail? Will you get it in a timely manner? Or will you get it when they have the budget to do so?
    Bill Burress is worried and so should everyone be!

  4. Everyone’s jumping ship. The ship is sinking. Sad to say, the Captain is not waiting for the crew to be saved before he goes. He’s leaving first. And Burrus is not far behind: “As I enter the final weeks of my career…” The head of the U.S. Postal Service AND the head of the APWU are BOTH jumping ship in a matter of weeks. Do they know something we don’t? Is the USPS doomed to sink and no one wants to be at the helm when it finally does? After all, that would be a sign of failure. The heads are leaving. Where does that leave the crew? No one cares anymore. No one cares.

  5. Wow, HQ is corrupt top to bottom and Burris says we will miss him? As he (Burris) leaves.
    The excessed are crying, let it be…
    go, the king is dead…
    Now the blood letting begins, now we know why negotiations were being stalled.
    After the elections things will happen quickly, all level 11 offices closed.
    Saturdays gone.
    No lay off clause, better hope so or we are all gone.

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