Mail Handler Union President Addresses Delegates at AFL-CIO Convention

NPMHU_logoNational Postal Mail Handlers Union President John F. Hegarty addressed the AFL-CIO National Convention in Los Angeles yesterday- here is a summary of his remarks:

President Hegarty commented that the NPMHU with support from other postal union affiliates of the AFL-CIO have worked to build broad public coalitions to resist more damaging austerity in the Postal Service and to build support for sensible reform.

Such reform has been proposed in Congress: The Postal Protection Act of 2013—S. 316 in the Senate and H.R. 630 in the House.

This legislation should be adapted and adopted to do the following:

Stabilize the Postal Service’s finances by reforming or eliminating unwise and unfair pension and retiree health financing policies that have crippled the Postal Service’s finances since 2006;

Strengthen and protect the Postal Service’s invaluable mail processing, retail and last-mile delivery networks that together comprise a crucial part of the nation’s infrastructure; and

Free the Postal Service to meet the evolving needs of the American economy and to set its prices in a way that reflects the cost structure of the delivery industry while assuring affordable universal service and protecting against anti-competitive practices.

The Postal Service is a national treasure that can play an important role in our future. Its networks are invaluable and should be used to address pressing national problems. The universal geographical reach of its 30,000 post offices could be used to provide financial services to the 40 million Americans who lack access to basic banking services, provide low- cost remittance services to immigrant workers, finance a National Infrastructure Bank to help rebuild our nation and create millions of jobs, and provide public Internet access and other media and technology services to underserved communities. With a federal vote-by-mail statute, the Postal Service could be the answer to voter suppression across the country while boosting voter turnout the way it has in Oregon and other states that conduct elections through the mail. The Post Office can be re-imagined as a platform for state and local services in rural and inner city areas that lack access to services. We should not only save the Postal Service, but also reinvent it for the 21st Century.

The AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions are called on to help mobilize the entire labor movement and our allies in the progressive community to defeat the forces of austerity and anti-unionism in the debate over postal reform. We must repeal the pre-funding mandate, free the Postal Service to diversify its services, and use the Postal Service’s unique networks to address other national problems by enacting legislation that promotes innovation and growth, not downsizing and decline.

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