APWU News Bulletin 13-2012, May 10, 2012
As the May 15 expiration of a moratorium on the closure of post offices and mail processing facilities approaches, the APWU is urging the House of Representatives to address postal reform immediately, and to use the Senate bill as a starting point. The USPS’ May 9 announcement about keeping rural offices open isn’t binding and won’t solve the USPS financial crisis, so we must keep fighting, the union says.
The attention of lawmakers, postal workers and customers shifted to the House after the Senate passed a bi-partisan postal bill (S. 1789) on April 25, but, so far, House leaders have displayed no sense of urgency in addressing the issue. As CNN Money reported on April 27, “Aides say Republican leaders don’t feel pressured to take up the House bill right away, because they’re not worried about postal closures.”
But the union, postal customers and many legislators see things differently. “We cannot allow legislative inaction to force the USPS to implement drastic cuts that will destroy the nation’s mail system, damage service, and jeopardize tens of thousands of jobs,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey.
“I encourage all union members to contact their representatives and urge them to consider postal reform legislation immediately. Be sure to ask them to use the Senate bill as a starting point,” he said.
The Senate Bill
“The Senate bill is flawed,” Guffey said, “but it is much better than an earlier version — and it is infinitely better than the bill that was approved by a House Committee last year.
“The improvements to the Senate bill are the result of the efforts of postal workers, customers, and legislators who recognize the importance of the USPS to American life — and have fought to protect it,” he said. “We now must apply the same determination to the House.”
The APWU is seeking several improvements to the Senate bill:
- Strengthen the language that addresses congressional mandates that are bankrupting the USPS;
- Improve the protections of service standards, which are essential to preserving the Postal Service and postal jobs, and
- Eliminate provisions that would have devastating consequences for the thousands of postal and federal employees who were injured on the job and who receive compensation from the Office of Workers Compensation Program (OWCP).
“Despite the weaknesses of the Senate bill, it would provide the USPS with short-term financial relief, and it would allow more community input in the decision-making processing for closing or consolidating post offices and postal facilities,” Guffey said. It also would give the Postal Regulatory Commission authority to reverse USPS decisions on closures and consolidations.
House Bill Would Destroy USPS
H.R. 2309, the bill that was approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, would “destroy the Postal Service as we know it,” the union president said. “We must not allow it to serve as the starting point for discussion in the House.”
The bill, which was sponsored by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), would require the USPS to implement $3 billion worth of cuts in post offices and mail processing facilities in a two-year period, and would slash “door delivery.” The bill also would gut collective bargaining — prohibiting postal unions and the USPS from negotiating protection against layoffs and allowing an appointed board to reject labor contracts it considers too costly.
The APWU enthusiastically supports another House bill, H.R. 1351, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA). The legislation has 227 co-sponsors, which constitutes a majority of House members, but Rep. Issa has refused to allow a vote on the measure.