APWU President Cliff Guffey will testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Sept. 6 about the financial crisis facing the Postal Service and what Congress must do to address it.
“I will tell members of the Senate Committee that the future of the Postal Service is in their hands. They have a solemn duty to save the nation’s mail system, which is the nerve center of a $1 trillion industry” the union president said.
Guffey is the only union president that was invited to testify; therefore, the four postal unions have agreed that his oral statement to the committee will represent the views of all bargaining unit employees. All of the unions will submit written testimony. In addition to the APWU, the postal unions are the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association.
The APWU president has been asked to focus his testimony on USPS proposals for legislation that would abrogate the union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The USPS is asking Congress to enact laws that would separate postal workers from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and from federal retirement plans and that would allow the agency to lay off 120,000 employees.
Guffey has denounced the proposals as a “reckless assault on the Postal Service and on postal employees.”
“The Postal Service is in danger of financial collapse,” the union president noted, “but the cause of its financial difficulties are often misunderstood.”
The problem is a 2006 law that is pushing the Postal Service into bankruptcy, he pointed out. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act imposes a burden on the USPS that no other government agency or private company bears. It requires the Postal Service to “pre-fund” the healthcare benefits of future retirees and forces the USPS to pay for a 75-year obligation in just 10 years – at a cost of more than $5 billion annually.
Meanwhile, Guffey noted, two independent auditors have found that, due to a faulty funding formula, the USPS has overpaid its pension accounts by more than $50 billion.
“Congress must get at the cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis,” he said. “Lawmakers must allow the Postal Service to apply the pension overpayments to the pre-funding requirement.
“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.”
The hearing will be Webcast live by the committee. To watch the hearing, visit the committee’s Web site. Video will be available approximately 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the proceedings.
Other witnesses scheduled to testify are: Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe; Jonathan Foley, Director of Planning and Policy Analysis for the Office of Personnel Management; Phillip R. Herr, Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues for the Government Accountability Office; Louis M. Atkins, President of the National Association of Postal Supervisors; Ellen Levine, Editorial Director of Hearst Magazines, and Tonda F. Rush, Director of Public Policy for the National Newspaper Association.