Use This Time to Advocate Union’s Position, APWU Says
The Senate is now expected to consider a postal bill in mid-April, following a two-week congressional recess that begins Friday, APWU Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid reports. Senators were expected to begin debate this week, but discussion of a bill to repeal tax subsidies for oil and gas companies will probably take up most of the chamber’s time this week, he said.
The postal bill, S. 1789, is expected to be the Senate’s first order of business when lawmakers return to the Capitol on April 16.
The APWU has sharply criticized the legislation in its current form, saying that it will provide short-term relief but inflict long-term damage on the nation’s mail system. Numerous lawmakers, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have been advocating changes to the bill that would address many of the union’s concerns. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).
The APWU is urging senators to support several amendments that would address the underlying cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis and prevent devastating cuts in service and the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs.
APWU President Cliff Guffey is calling on locals and state organizations to take advantage of the congressional recess to press the union’s case with legislators.
“The clock is ticking,” Guffey said. “We are approaching the end of the six-month moratorium on the closing and consolidation of mail processing plants and post offices, so it is crucial that our members impress upon their senators the importance of getting it right.” The moratorium, which is intended to give Congress time to address the Postal Service’s financial crisis without severe cutbacks in service and jobs, expires May 15. Postal managers have announced that they intend to begin implementing closures as soon as the moratorium expires, and to complete as many as possible by the end of August.
“The union’s national officers have been working non-stop to get our message across to legislators,” Guffey continued. “We realize, however, that members of Congress are most receptive to input from voters in their districts. For that reason, it is essential that locals and state organizations reach out to their legislators during Congress’ Easter recess.”
The APWU is endorsing 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.)