From the American Postal Workers Union:
As the Postal Service prepares to announce which mail processing facilities will face consolidation beginning in mid-May, the APWU is fighting back. The union is continuing to oppose USPS plans to slash service, eliminate 35,000 jobs, and destroy the mail distribution network.
“APWU members have done an outstanding job of expressing our concerns to members of Congress and the media,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “We face an uphill battle, so it is crucial that union members continue to make their voices heard.”
APWU members have gotten the attention of public officials at public meetings where they joined with businesspeople and community residents to voice stiff opposition to the closure of mail processing facilities. Locals have also organized rallies, petition drives, meetings with elected representatives, and many have also done outstanding work with the media. Click here for more information on work with the media [members only].
Service Standards Are Crucial
At the national level, the union has been working to win support for amendments to the 21 st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789), which is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate soon.
Twenty-seven senators signed a letter to the authors of S. 1789 on Feb. 14, asking them to adopt amendments the APWU supports — to maintain current service standards, protect rural post offices, maintain six-day delivery, and establish a blue-ribbon panel to examine how the Postal Service can earn additional revenue by offering new services.
With the USPS preparing to identify the plants that are slated for consolidation, the amendment on service standards is especially important: The Postal Service cannot maintain current service standards if it implements massive consolidations. At a Feb. 13 meeting with the APWU, the USPS said it plans to eliminate 261 of 461 mail processing facilities by 2015.
“As the USPS prepares to announce which facilities it will close, it is critical that APWU members reach out to their senators and ask them to support the amendments,” Guffey said. (Click here to find out how).
S. 1789 is unacceptable in its current form because it fails to adequately address the cause of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties — a Congressionally-manufactured crisis resulting from mandates in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), the union says.
“As currently written, S. 1789 would leave the Postal Service starved for cash, and lead to the closure of hundreds of mail processing plants and thousands of post offices, the elimination of tens of thousands of postal jobs, and drastic reductions in service to the American people,” Guffey said. “The amendments offered by the 27 senators would prevent that.”
In addition to the amendments outlined in the senators’ letter, the APWU supports amendments that would adequately address the requirement that forces the USPS to pre-fund future retiree health benefits; allow the USPS to recover overpayments the Postal Service made to its retiree pension funds; give the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent post office closures based on the effect on the community and employees; eliminate the provision that would drastically reduce the compensation of workers who are injured on duty once they reach retirement age, and repeal the provision that would require arbitrators in postal contract negotiations to consider the financial health of the USPS.
They’re Not Waiting, We Can’t Wait
The timing of the announcement is significant because the Postal Service is not waiting for the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to issue an advisory opinion, which the USPS is required to seek whenever it proposes to implement changes that will impact service on a “substantially nationwide basis.” Postal officials posted a notice in the Federal Register in Octoberannouncingthat the massive restructuring will force the USPS to degrade service standards – to eliminate overnight delivery for first-class mail and periodicals, change next-day delivery to two days, and extend two-day delivery to three days.
The USPS plans to publish the “final rule” in mid-April. The PRC is expected to issue its recommendations in August.
“If the Postal Service degrades service standards before postal reform is enacted, stopping massive consolidations will be that much more difficult,” Guffey said. “Congress must take action!”
Congress is in recess this week, but the union president is urging members to contact their senators immediately to urge them to support the amendments endorsed by the APWU.