APWU to Washington Post: Destroying Unions Won’t Fix USPS
APWU President Cliff Guffey has a simple message for the Washington Post: Destroying unions and attacking workers’ rights won’t solve the Postal Service’s financial problems.
In a letter to the editor published Aug. 1, the union president disputed a July 28 Washington Post editorial that endorsed H.R. 2309 — a bill introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) that would mandate massive service cuts and give an unelected “solvency authority” the right to unilaterally renegotiate labor contracts.
The editorial “endorsed the strategy that is being employed by Republican governors who use budget deficits to attack collective-bargaining rights while ignoring other methods of closing budget gaps,” Guffey wrote.
“Nearly every analysis of the Postal Service recognizes that the cause of its financial ‘crisis’ is a misguided 2006 congressional mandate requiring the service to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree health benefits over 10 years,” he said, noting that no other government agency or private business is required to make such payments.
“The editorial said the mandate is a hedge against a future bailout, but it is the pre-funding requirement that has driven the Postal Service to insolvency,” Guffey continued. “Without it, the service would have had a surplus of $611 million over the past four years. Congress created this mess, and Congress can fix it.”
Guffey also noted that many independent reports have shown that the USPS has overfunded its two pension accounts by billions of dollars — a fact the Washington Post dismissed as a “cache that has given those unwilling to change the status quo an argument for postponing structural reforms.”
“Apparently, those ‘unwilling to change the status quo’ include the postmaster general, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the USPS Office of the Inspector General, the Congressional Research Service, and Democratic and Republican members of Congress, all of whom have said the Office of Personnel Management should be able to credit the service’s pension overpayments to the health benefits’ liability,” he said.
“The policy that the editorial promoted, including ‘renegotiating collective bargaining agreements,’ puts the Post squarely in the camp of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the Tea Party,” Guffey concluded.
The Washington Post has published at least seven editorials about the USPS over the last two years, and has taken an anti-labor stance in each one — either criticizing USPS labor contracts as too generous; attacking the no layoff clause or the level of health care and retirement benefits employees receive, or claiming that the collective bargaining system is tilted toward unions. Endorsing legislation that would allow a commission to void labor contracts is only the latest example of the Post’s hostility toward workers and unions.