APWU Convention under way in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Members of the American Postal Workers Union from across the country are meeting in Los Angeles Aug. 20-24 to address pressing issues confronting the U.S. Postal Service and postal employees.

The backdrop for the APWU’s 21st National Convention is the Postal Service’s financial “crisis” and Congress’ failure to take action to prevent the dismantling of the nation’s mail system.

Congress created the Postal Service’s fiscal crisis in 2006, when it passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which requires the agency to pre-fund healthcare costs for retirees 75 years into the future. This crushing burden costs the Postal Service approximately $5.5 billion annually and is responsible for 82 percent of USPS debt. No other government agency or private company is required to make such payments.

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in April that would provide short-term relief to the USPS, but the House of Representatives adjourned for its August recess without considering the measure. Instead the House leadership seems intent on pushing a radically partisan bill that would destroy the Postal Service as we know it. H.R. 2309, which was introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), would shut thousands of post offices and hundreds of mail processing centers, eliminate Saturday delivery, and create a Solvency Authority that would be empowered to tear up union contracts. The bill is so controversial that House Republican leaders say they probably will not address postal reform until after the November elections.

Throughout the convention, delegates will discuss the importance of passing legislation that relieves the Postal Service of the crushing pre-funding mandate and that allows the USPS to offer new products and services so that it can remain relevant in the digital age. Delegates also will focus on the importance of November’s election in solving the problems of the USPS and the nation.

Featured speakers include Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, on Monday, Aug. 20, at approximately 11:15 a.m., and renowned broadcaster Ed Schultz, on Thursday, Aug. 23, at approximately 11 a.m. Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Brad Sherman also will address the delegates. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) addressed delegates at a pre-convention event on Sunday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) has been invited to speak as well.

The delegates will also hear from guest speaker Billy Hayes, president of the Union Network International (UNI), a global federation comprising more than 900 affiliated unions in 140 countries, as well as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The convention, which is the union’s highest governing body, is expected to entertain a motion to endorse the Obama-Biden ticket for re-election.