Postal reform is a hot topic in Congress as the Senate prepares to vote on the 21st Century Postal Service Act, and APWU President Cliff Guffey is urging union members to contact their senators and let them know: Senate bill 1789 is unacceptable in its current form.
As lawmakers review the bill, Guffey is asking union members to let their senators know that S. 1789 must be amended. “Supporters of the bill are also weighing in on the legislation, so it is crucial that we get our point across,” he said.
In its current form, the bill would give the USPS some short-term financial relief, but also would inflict long-term damage to the nation’s mail system, Guffey said.
“The bill would force the Postal Service to close hundreds of mail processing centers, shut thousands of post offices, and cause massive delays in mail delivery,” Guffey said. “By failing to give more substantial financial relief, the bill would weaken the Postal Service, kill jobs, and drive customers away,” he added.
“APWU members have done a great job of getting the word out to legislators about our concerns,” Guffey added. “At this critical time, union members must keep up the good work.”
The union is seeking support for amendments to:
- Set strict service standards. (This is crucial, because the Postal Service is planning to degrade delivery standards in order to eliminate more than half of all mail processing facilities.)
- Allow the USPS to recover overpayments the Postal Service made to its retiree pension funds.
- Adequately address the requirement that forces the USPS to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. (This mandate is the primary cause of the agency’s financial crisis. No other government agency or private company bears this burden, which costs the USPS approximately $5.5 billion annually.)
- Establish new ways to generate revenue, such as providing notary services, issuing licenses, contracting with state and local agencies to provide services, and allowing the USPS to offer services that mail systems in many other countries provide, such as digital services.
- Prevent the closing of small post offices by giving the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent closures based on the effect on the community and employees.
- Protect six-day delivery.
- Eliminate the provision that would drastically reduce the compensation of workers who are injured on duty once they reach retirement age.
- Repeal the provision that would require arbitrators in postal contract negotiations to consider the financial health of the USPS. (Postal unions note that arbitrators routinely do so, and criticize the provision as an attempt to skew contract negotiations in favor of management.)
“We must not allow this bill to destroy service to the American people,” Guffey said.