APWU: Doomsday news stories ignore real cause of USPS financial woes

From the American Postal Workers Union:

Recent headlines that predict the Postal Service will collapse within one year demonstrate the importance of APWU members getting involved in legislative affairs, President Cliff Guffey said.

“To ensure the survival of the Postal Service — and our jobs — I urge each and every member to make a commitment to legislative action,” he said.

“The USPS is under attack by anti-labor politicians and some sectors of the business community,” Guffey continued. “It is crucial that APWU members get involved.

“When your local calls on you to visit your Congressional representatives, you must act as if your job depends on it, because it does,” he said.

Recent news stories suggest that the Postal Service’s financial problems will lead to the downfall of the USPS. Bloomberg Businessweek published an article on May 27 titled “The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse,” which blamed the Postal Service’s financial crisis on labor costs. “The Postal Service’s business model [is] so badly broken that collapse [is] imminent,” the article concluded.

Other news sources blamed e-mail for the Postal Service’s decline. A report on National Public Radio (NPR) said, “The U.S. Postal Service can’t shrink fast enough. Its revenues are falling and its losses are rising as mail migrates to the Internet.”

“The true cause of the Postal Service’s financial woes is the congressionally-imposed mandate that requires the USPS to pre-fund future retiree health benefits,” Guffey said, “but you wouldn’t know it from reading many of the recent articles about the USPS.

“Absent this pre-funding burden, the Postal Service would have experienced a cumulative surplus, despite falling mail volume and the worst recession in recent history,” he added.

“We must support measures that will enable the USPS to remain viable in the future, such as H.R. 1351,” Guffey said. The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would correct postal pre-funding inequities.

We also support some provisions of S. 1010, introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). The “POST Act” would address the pre-funding requirement by allowing the USPS to use overpayments to its pension accounts to meet the pre-funding obligations. It also would give the Postal Service authority to close post offices solely for financial reasons, and would require arbitrators to consider the financial health of the USPS when contract negotiations end in arbitration. APWU supports the overpayment provisions, but does not support the bill entirely, as written. We will continue to work with Senators and staff to address the issues of concern to our members.

The union president urged members to get involved. “It is imperative that we contact our legislators to win support for bills that will provide immediate relief to the USPS,” he said. “It is essential to our future.”