The Washington Post: Wrong Again!
A recent Washington Post editorial is so riddled with inaccuracies that it’s hard to know where to begin to refute them. But one thing is clear: The message — and the not-so-coincidental timing of its publication — is that the anti-union newspaper wants Congress to tilt the scale against workers just as the APWU’s contract negotiations reach the final stages.
In its haste to make workers pay for USPS financial problems, The Post asserted that only cuts in the wages and benefits of postal workers can stave off collapse of the nation’s mail system. Yet the editorial opposed fixing the real cause of USPS financial problems: A mandate Congress imposed as part of the 2006 postal “reform” law that forces the Postal Service to “pre-fund” healthcare benefits for future retirees. No other government agency bears this burden. Nor do The Post and most other private businesses.
Without the pre-funding costs, which exceed $5 billion annually for 10 years, the Postal Service would have shown a surplus of more than $4 billion over the past four Fiscal Years. Despite the severe recession and the increased use of electronic communication, the USPS has otherwise kept its head above water.
To bolster its case, The Post claimed that USPS labor costs are excessive without acknowledging that processing and delivering more than 170 billion of pieces of mail annually remains an inherently labor-intensive operation — despite the increased use of automation. The media conglomerate also failed to acknowledge that USPS labor costs as a percentage of total expenses have declined from 86 percent to 78 percent; USPS productivity is at an all-time high, and more than 100,000 employees have been trimmed from the rolls in the last 2 ½ years.
Any suggestion that postal workers are the cause of USPS difficulties is belied by these facts. The Post’s call to use USPS financial difficulties to wrest concessions from workers — in the midst of ongoing contract talks — is nothing short of outrageous.
The Post also advanced the absurd myth, proffered by the mailing industry and echoed by anti-labor ideologues, that federal law gives unions the upper hand in contract negotiations by preventing arbitrators from “considering the financial condition of the Postal Service” when resolving contract disputes. In fact, the law requires arbitrators to consider all the evidence presented by the parties, and testimony and data on postal finances are routinely presented to arbitration panels.
In lieu of placing its thumb on the scale of free collective bargaining, there is much Congress should do to prevent the tragic and unnecessary demise of the world’s largest, least expensive and most trusted postal system: Amend the retiree healthcare prefunding mandate; allow the USPS to reclaim the more than $50 billion it has overpaid into federal pension accounts; end the postal rate-making fiasco that grants excessive postage discounts to major corporate and advertising mailers; and let the Postal Service develop new competitive products and services to meet consumers needs.
source: American Postal Workers Union