Note: USPS Board Of Governor James C. Miller (whose term expired in December 2010) was invited as a Board member but he chose to present his ‘personal’ views on the Postal Service.
NALC Activist Alert
Given that its focus was the tentative National Agreement between the Postal Service and the APWU, Tuesday’s hearing represented a troubling and unprecedented intervention in the postal collective-bargaining process that has served the country well for 40 years. Even as the APWU is in the midst of its ratification process, Congress has decided to get back into the business of politicizing postal labor relations, something it wisely got out of in 1970 with the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act.
The statement of James Miller III, a member of the Postal Board of Governors who was appointed by President George W. Bush, got the hearing off to a rocky start by seeking to totally mislead the members of the Committee about the APWU agreement. “Let me say that I, too, am disappointed that we did not accomplish more,” he said. “The reason we did not get more, and the reason we agreed in the end to the contract now out for ratification by the rank and file is that the current law governing our labor negotiations is biased against management and in favor of labor.”
This is total nonsense. He is, of course, referring to the baseless Postal Service claim that tripartite interest arbitration to resolve bargaining impasses is unfair to management. How a process that allows both management and the union to name a member of a three-person arbitration board to be chaired by a neutral arbitrator picked by the parties or the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is unfair to management is left unexplained. That the parties are allowed to present any and all evidence to support their bargaining claims and that the board is mandated by law to consider all the evidence presented is left unchallenged.
The only “evidence” Miller offered to the committee to support his flimsy claim was the statement: “The history of arbitration in our case is one where labor wins and management loses.” This is plainly untrue – and is directly refuted by the historical record. “This is a pathetic attempt to mislead the Congress, NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “Any fair-minded person could not review the history of postal interest arbitrations and come to such a conclusion,” he added.
The Reagan-era budget director failed in his duty as a member of the Board of Governors to call on Congress to relieve the Postal Service of its unfair burden to fund future retiree health obligations by allowing it to use its accurately measured pension surpluses to fund them. Instead, he indulged his anti-labor ideology. He concluded his testimony by asking Congress to change the law to “give management a stronger hand in negotiations” and submitting an “academic paper” he recently drafted that suggests that repealing the postal monopoly and contracting out postal jobs to low-wage labor was the solution to the Postal Service’s problem.
“The House Government Oversight committee should not be deceived by Miller’s disgracefully misleading testimony,” Rolando said. “Gov. Miller should know better than to tell fairy tales to Congress. His testimony is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of hard-working postal employees who have helped the Postal Service survive the Great Recession and who provide high quality service at the most affordable postage rates in the world. “