U.S. Postal Service’s Actions: Willful Ignorance, or Damning Arrogance?

By Richard Thayer

Today’s post is primarily for those of you who aren’t city letter carriers. I, along with approximately 300,000 other NALC members received a letter today from our national president, Fred Rolando.

Actually, it was two letters. One was addressed to NALC members and the other was a copy of a letter sent to our beloved Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe. The letters were in response to the PMG’s recent efforts to gut craft employees’ bargaining rights and withdraw from the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan.

For those who may have missed it, earlier this month the powers-that-be at postal headquarters in Washington let it be known that they had been secretly lobbying Congress to do away with the various unions’ bargaining rights. The news came as a BIG surprise to the unions.

In his letter to us, President Rolando said in part: “This is a full-blown effort to those who are determined to diminish, and if possible destroy, government institutions like the Postal Service, Social Security and Medicare. These ideologues think the time is ripe, and that the political environment offers the opportunity to strike… I urge you to recognize this to be the single greatest and most serious challenge to your career and the future of the Postal Service that any of us have ever seen. And I include the 1970 strike in that perspective.”

In times past when dealing with postal management the NALC has always been firm, but has also been fairly diplomatic when reacting to some of the Postal Service’s crack-brained initiatives. The letter to PMG Donahoe is devoid of “political correctness.” And well it should be.

Below is the letter President Rolando sent to PMG Donahoe:

“I write to state in the strongest possible terms our outrage at USPS lobbying the Congress to break our labor contract, and to withdraw from FEHBP, CSRS, FERS and TSP.

“This unprecedented action, on the eve of the start of our collective bargaining negotiations for a new contract, is an act of bad faith towards the Postal Service’s loyal, hardworking letter carriers–and the American public.

“The very idea that USPS, an instrumentality of the United States government, would lobby the Congress of the United States to violate a contract is staggering. This nation has just gone through the wrenching debt-ceiling exercise to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States; for USPS now to promote the government’s breach of contract is evidence of either willful ignorance, or damning arrogance.

“The nation’s 200,000 letter carriers will make clear to you at the opening of negotiations this Thursday our understanding of the current USPS cash flow crisis and its long term business plan and strategic challenges. We will also outline our views as to how to address them constructively and collaboratively. You know, and we know, that it is the failure of Congress to act to correct excessive multi-billion dollar inequities that have driven USPS to its current state through forced over funding of our pension and retiree health obligations. As a consequence, USPS — unlike every other major institution in the country–private or public, profit or non-profit, is over rich in mandated reserves and unnecessarily cash poor.

“A rational USPS lobbying effort would focus with laser-beam intensity on the necessity for Congress to remedy its mistakes rather than seek to exploit this crisis to achieve unrelated; and in our view disastrous; schemes to reduce service and to slash the wages, health insurance and pensions of its employees.

“Notwithstanding your ill-considered effort to lobby the Congress to do your dirty work, we will continue to try to convince you to work with us to protect this great institution in the interest of the American public.”

(photo credit:umer toor blog: “Arrogance is the Anesthesia that dulls the pain of Ignorance”)


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