Of significant concern to postal employees is a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), which includes both positive and negative features for the Postal Service: The “Post Act” (S. 3831) would correct in part the colossal policy blunder of requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund future healthcare liabilities.
But the Post Act also includes significant negative features: It would give the USPS sweeping authority to close small post offices solely for financial reasons, and would require arbitrators to consider the financial health of the Postal Service when contract negotiations end in arbitration.
On balance, this legislation is not worthy of support — unless major modifications are made.
According to the U.S. Constitution, the purpose of the Postal Service is “to bind the nation together.” This objective cannot be met if the USPS is permitted to close hundreds of rural post offices, which serve as the center of their communities. If implemented, this provision of the law would help satisfy the demand of large mailers to restrain postage rates by reducing service to a large swath of America. The Post Act would dramatically change the mission of the USPS from providing service to the entire nation to serving a small sector of the business community.
Sen. Carper was a prominent supporter of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which imposed the pre-funding requirement and created the financial challenges that now confront the Postal Service. Another principal feature of the law — which was included at behest of large mailers — limited postage rate increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
This legislation, which was adopted in 2006, is the primary reason that the Postal Service has experienced serious financial difficulties in recent years. Now, to “compensate” for that mistake, Sen. Carper proposes the Post Act, which would alter the role of the Postal Service in American society.
The provision of the Post Act that would require arbitrators to consider the financial health of the Postal Service when deciding labor disputes is presented as a reasonable approach to labor relations; but in fact, it is a deliberate effort to reduce the wages and benefits of postal employees. Lacking the will to look postal employees in the eye and tell them that they should take major pay cuts and benefit reductions, this proposal is couched in terms of moderation.
The APWU will oppose any legislation that denies citizens reasonable access to postal services or that attempts to weaken postal bargaining.