The APWU President Cliff Guffey is calling on union members to ask their senators and representatives to co-sponsor a pair of postal reform bills that were introduced in the House and Senate on Feb. 13. The Senate bill (S. 316) was introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with eight co-sponsors; the House bill (H.R. 630) was introduced by Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR). Click here to send a message.
The Postal Service Protection Act would:
- Fix the Postal Service’s immediate financial crisis by ending the mandate that requires the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees — a burden no other government agency or private company bears.
- Allow the Postal Service to recover overpayments the USPS made to federal pension plans;
- Re-establish overnight delivery standards for first-class mail, which would ensure the timely delivery of mail, help keep mail processing facilities open, and protect jobs;
- Protect six-day delivery;
- Allow the USPS to develop new products and services that would generate new sources of revenue, and
- Protect rural post offices by giving give the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent post offices from being closed based on the effect on the community and the effect on the employees.
The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN.), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
Heart of the Problem
“The bills get at the heart of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties,” said Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid. “The requirement is responsible for approximately 80 percent of the Postal Service’s losses.”
“The bills would preserve service to the American people by protecting overnight mail delivery,” Reid added. Effective July 1, 2012, the Postal Service eliminated approximately 23 percent of overnight mail delivery by lowering service standards and closing or substantially reducing operations at 140 mail processing plants (about 30% of mail processing facilities).
The USPS plans to close approximately 20 more mail processing plants this year and about 92 in 2014, Guffey pointed out. “These closures would delay the mail that is delivered Monday through Saturday by one to three days in cities and towns across the country.
“The closures must be stopped,” he said. “The USPS cannot survive if mail delivery is slowed to a crawl. Businesses will turn elsewhere if the USPS is allowed to destroy service.”
The bills would allow the USPS to develop new sources of revenue by providing “new media” services, issuing licenses (driver’s licenses, hunting licenses, fishing licenses) and providing notary services.
It also would permit the Postal Service to contract with state and local agencies to provide services at post offices, and allow the USPS to ship wine and beer.
In addition, the legislation would create a commission composed of business innovators, labor, and small businesses to recommend new ways to generate revenue in the digital age.