The APWU, along with dozens of key mailing industry groups and labor unions, urged U.S. representatives to support crucial legislation that would restore financial viability to the Postal Service.
“We urge you to act now to free the Postal Service of the unnecessary and unsustainable statutory requirement that has destabilized the Postal Service’s finances and poses an immediate and serious threat to the U.S. economy,” the organizations wrote in a June 14 letter [PDF] that was sent to every member of the House of Representatives.
The letter urged members of Congress to support H.R. 1351, a measure introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) on April 4 that would correct the overfunding of the Postal Service’s pension accounts, and would allow the agency to use any surplus to meet its retiree health benefits pre-funding obligation.
“The crisis is immediate because the USPS will run out of funds by the end of the summer,” the letter states. “Since 2006, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) has required it to pay roughly $5.5 billion each year to pre-fund future retiree health benefits, including those of workers that have not even been hired yet.
“The Postal Service can no longer bear this burden,” the organizations wrote.
The letter points out to lawmakers that the effects of a crippled Postal Service would be dire. “The USPS stands alone in offering affordable and accessible, universal service to 150 million homes, and thousands of communities and businesses six days a week. “It is at the heart of a $1.3 trillion mailing industry that employs over 9 million workers.
“It is the linchpin in marketing and distribution systems through which businesses large and small can advertise services and distribute products,” the letter said.
The organizations noted that independent of this pre-funding requirement, the USPS has done its job to remain solvent, shedding more than 110,000 jobs since 2007 and making numerous closings of facilities and operations — but legislation is needed to ensure the Postal Service remains viable in the future.
“H.R. 1351 would allow sound business decisions to be made in a clear and stable environment while providing Congress and the postal community the time to develop a consensus on further reform,” the letter said.
“The Postal Service provides a vital service that is important to the nation’s economic recovery,” the letter stated. “As a business and a public service mandated in the Constitution, a healthy USPS remains vital to your community and the Nation.”
As of June 16, H.R. 1351 had 149 co-sponsors. APWU President Cliff Guffey urged members to contact their U.S. representatives and encourage them to support this critical measure. “If your members of Congress have not co-sponsored this bill, please call them and urge them to do so,” he said. “If they have, thank them for their support.”