APWU President Cliff Guffey has condemned USPS legislative proposals that would destroy the collective bargaining rights of postal workers and interfere with the union’s contract, which Postal Service and the APWU agreed to in March.
Guffey made the statement in response to USPS announcements [PDF] that it would seek congressional support for legislation to eliminate protection against layoff from collective bargaining agreements; remove postal workers from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), and separate USPS employees from federal retirement programs.
“The APWU will vehemently oppose any attempt to destroy the collective bargaining rights of postal employees or tamper with our recently-negotiated contract,” Guffey said. “Crushing postal workers and slashing service will not solve the Postal Service’s financial crisis.
“As we have pointed out many times,” he added, “postal employees are not the cause of the crisis.
“The USPS economic crisis is the result of a provision of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees — a burden no other government agency or private company bears.” The mandate requires the USPS to fund a 75-year liability over a 10-year period and costs the USPS more than $5.5 billion per year.
Guffey also pointed out that “the federal government is holding billions of dollars in postal overpayments to its pension accounts.”
“Congress must address the cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis so that postal workers can continue to serve the American people and the USPS can continue to act as an important engine of the U.S. economy,” he added.
“There are some in Congress who may support these proposals,” Guffey noted. “But we will not allow the hard-working men and women of the U.S. Postal Service to be made the scapegoats for the outrageously poor judgment of Congress in instituting the pre-funding requirement.
“Congress created this mess,” he said, “and Congress can fix it.”
Guffey reiterated his call for postal employees to contact their U.S. representatives and urge them to support H.R. 1351, and oppose H.R. 2309.
H.R. 1351 would address the cause of the USPS financial crisis without cutting pay and benefits, he noted, without eliminating collective bargaining rights, or slashing service. The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would:
- Allow the USPS to use billions of dollars in pension overpayments to meet its financial obligations — including the congressional mandate to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees.
- Leave workers’ collective bargaining rights intact. It would make no changes to wages, benefits, or protection against layoffs.
By contrast, H.R. 2309, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), would:
- Do nothing to correct USPS overpayments to its pension accounts.
- Do nothing to correct the congressional mandate that requires the USPS to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees.
- Force postal workers to make up the difference:
>Ensure that Postal wages are “comparable” to the private sector.
> Empower a board to unilaterally cut wages, abolish benefits, and end protection against layoffs.
- Create a commission that would order:
$1 billion worth of post office closures in the first year, and
$1 billion worth of facility closures in the second year.
- Increase employees’ costs for healthcare and life insurance, and eliminate the right to bargain over these crucial benefits.