In Senate Testimony, Guffey Blasts Carper-Coburn Bill; Bill is ‘Fatally Flawed;’ Penalizes Workers, Cuts Service

APWU News Bulletin 17-2013, Sept. 19, 2013 | PDF

APWU President Cliff Guffey told a Senate panel on Sept. 19 that the postal bill introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is “fatally flawed.”

APWU President Cliff Guffey testified before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Sept. 19, 2013.

APWU President Cliff Guffey testified before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Sept. 19.

The bill (S. 1486 [PDF]) “fails to correct the cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis — the mandate in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) that requires the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees,” Guffey said. [full written testimony (PDF)] | [five-minute opening statement (PDF)]

That mandate is responsible for “ill-considered and destructive cost cutting by the Postal Service” that is penalizing the working men and women of the United States Postal Service by threatening their jobs and undermining their benefits; cutting services to the American people, and dismantling our nation’s Postal Service.

“To our utter dismay, S. 1486 as written would permit cost-cutting from health benefits and retirement benefits. It would remove a cornerstone of the 1970 law that created the Postal Service, by making it possible for the Postal Service to attack our retirement and health benefits,” the union president said.

“We vehemently oppose any change that would interfere with the right of postal employees and retirees to continue to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and federal retirement programs,” he said.

“Although the Postal Service claims that it can devise a lower-cost health benefits plan that is not true.  What the Postal Service seeks to do is to shift costs from itself to employees, to retirees and to Medicare.  This is not acceptable,” Guffey said.

“Because of the pre-funding requirement, the Postal Service has cut costs in ways that have created hardships for postal workers and threaten to destroy the Postal Service,” he testified.

“The USPS has cut its mail processing network so deeply and so recklessly that it is now violating the standards mandated by law,” Guffey said. “We urge this Committee, the Senate and Congress to insist that service standards be maintained,” he added.

“APWU members have borne the brunt of the drastic changes made by the Postal Service in the past seven years,” Guffey concluded. “Our members have been penalized unfairly for financial problems they did not create and could not control.  The APWU cannot accept efforts to impose further sacrifices on postal workers.”

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe also testified and reiterated calls to remove postal workers from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; cut retirement benefits; reduce service to the American people, reduce compensation for injured workers and tamper with the collective bargaining process.

Other witnesses included a representative of the Postal Regulatory Commission, the USPS Office of Inspector General, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association and mailers’ organizations. Their testimony and a video of hearing can be viewed on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Web site.