Congress Must Act Quickly to Pass Postal Bill, Guffey Says

apwulogoCongress must work quickly to pass a postal reform bill, APWU President Cliff Guffey told broadcaster Ed Schultz in a radio interview on Jan. 14. “It doesn’t matter whether the Postal Service will run out of money early this year or late this year — it’s the right thing to do.”

Lawmakers should pick up where they left off at the end of the last session of Congress, Guffey said, instead of starting all over.

One of the worst aspects of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) — beside the requirement to pre-fund 75 years worth of healthcare benefits for future retirees within a 10-year period — was the section of the law that prohibits the USPS from raising postage rates to pay for the pre-funding, Guffey said.

[listen to full interview]

‘Anyone Would Go Bankrupt’

No business in the world could survive a mandate from the government to pay out $5 billion a year without the ability to raise its rates, he said. “Anyone would go bankrupt.”

The result of the PAEA is no accident, the union president said. “It’s done exactly what it was designed to do.” The Postal Service was not in debt in 2006 when the law was enacted, but to pay for the pre-funding mandate, the USPS has had to borrow up to the legal limit, he noted.

Supporters of the law “want us to be like some of these other privatized countries,” Guffey said, “like Germany, where stamps are 78 cents.

“They want to take down a part of government everyone likes,” he said, “and they get a bonus of taking down the union.”

There’s little Democrats can do without cooperation from Republicans, Guffey said. Getting anything accomplished in the Senate takes 60 votes these days, he noted. And in the last session of Congress, House leaders refused to consider a bill co-sponsored by more than half of House members that would have saved the Postal Service. “That’s the tragedy of our whole government right now,” he added.

Future ‘Still Very Good’

The future of the Postal Service is “still very good,” Guffey said. “You can order a lot of things — even on your phone,” he said, “but the Postal Service will have to deliver it,” especially as more brick-and-mortar retail establishments disappear.

“More and more mail of FedEx and UPS is being moved over to be delivered by the Postal Service because we do have the infrastructure to get it done and get it done timely,” he said.

There are parts of the country that aren’t served by private couriers. “They have to hand it over to us, or it won’t get delivered,” he said.