APWU President Cliff Guffey is blasting House Republican leaders for their “utter failure to solve the nation’s problems.” Guffey made the remarks in response to recent signals that the chamber won’t act on postal reform legislation until after Congress’s August recess – and perhaps not until after the November elections.
In light of the failure, the union president is calling on APWU members to focus their attention on the upcoming elections. “The House leadership’s inaction demonstrates the importance of changing the politics in our country,” he said.
“We must wrest control of the House from elected officials who are more interested in scoring political points than in conducting the nation’s business. And we must take control from extremists who would like to privatize the Postal Service,” Guffey said.
“Congress created the USPS financial crisis,” he said, referring to the mandate in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees at a cost of approximately $5.5 billion a year. No other government agency or private company bears this burden, which forces the USPS to pay a 75-year liability in a 10-year period.
“Eighty-five percent of the Postal Service’s debt is the result of the pre-funding mandate,” Guffey pointed out.
“The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bipartisan measure in April that would spread out the payments, but Republican leaders in the House have shown no interest addressing the cause of the crisis,” Guffey said.
“Instead, when it addresses postal reform, the House plans to consider a bill that would destroy the Postal Service as a public institution,” he added. H.R. 2309, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), would require the USPS to make $3 billion worth of cuts in post offices and mail processing facilities within two years. It also would prohibit postal unions and management from negotiating restrictions on layoffs, and it would empower an appointed board to reject negotiated labor contracts.
“House leaders have no plans to address the cause of the crisis, but when the Postal Service is unable to make the pre-funding payment in August, you can be sure those same politicians will scream about a ‘default’ and mislead people by suggesting a ‘taxpayer bailout’ is imminent unless drastic cuts are made,” he predicted.
“The House should set aside H.R. 2309 and consider real reform,” Guffey said. “In the meantime, postal workers should set their sights on November.”