First, let me express the NALC’s condolences and my personal sympathies for the families and friends of the victims of the mass shooting yesterday in Connecticut. Sadly, there have been far too many such rampages in recent years. These unspeakable crimes should motivate all Americans to come together to find ways to prevent future tragedies of this kind.
Even as we mourn this weekend, however, we cannot afford to lose track of the urgent battle over the future of the Postal Service.
The good news is that negotiations over the flawed “compromise” bill appear to be stalled, at least temporarily. The bad news is that Congress may stay is session beyond the holidays to finish the so-called “fiscal cliff” budget negotiations, so the fight over postal reform is far from over.
According to our best sources, no agreement was reached at congressional staff–level negotiations on the compromise bill this week, thanks in part to the continued activism of letter carriers. But we are hearing talk of eliminating Saturday delivery one year from now. That’s halfway between the House’s proposal in H.R. 2309 to eliminate it immediately and the Senate’s proposal in S. 1789 to retain six-day delivery but only for two years. Either way, 25,000 city carrier jobs—one-sixth of our workforce—would be sacrificed, instead of removing the real problem: the future retiree health pre-funding burden.
If an agreement is reached by the staff, the compromise will be presented to the small group of committee leaders from the House and Senate committees that oversee the Postal Service. There is no guarantee that those leaders will sign off on the resulting postal reform. If they do, they will have to convince the leadership to let the full Congress consider the legislation—and possibly attach it to other bills under consideration. Fortunately, it now looks doubtful that any postal reform bill could be attached to the Hurricane Sandy relief bill, which the Senate is scheduled to take up on Monday.
Nevertheless, we must convince the entire Congress to oppose any rush to enact postal reform in the lame-duck session. Congress must start over in the new year and do the job right.
Time is running out, since it will take some time to translate any agreement into legislative language, but we won’t be safe until Congress adjourns for the year.
So we have to keep the pressure up. I need you to call your House and Senate representatives this week at 202-224-3121. Even if you have already called, call again. And urge other carriers and postal employees, as well as your family members, your neighbors and your friends, to do the same.
I have been in direct contact with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to share our views, and our legislative staff is working around the clock to inform members of Congress about the dangers of a flawed compromise. We will be running this advertisement in Capitol Hill newspapers next week, and we are conducting a sophisticated digital-media campaign targeting Capitol Hill staffers and their principals.
If we all do our part, we can win this important fight.