Jan. 27, 2014—The four postal unions—the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union—sent on Jan. 27 a joint letter to members of the Senate committee with U.S. Postal Service oversight, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, expressing “strong opposition” to an amended version of Senate bill S. 1486 and urging senators to oppose the bill when it is considered by the committee on Wednesday, Jan. 29.
The substitute bill was issued on Jan. 23 by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the authors of the original bill, and it retains many of the negative features of the original bill and adds new provisions “that are totally unfair and unnecessary,” the letter says. One of the new provisions requires the USPS to pre-fund $17 billion in future workers’ compensation expenses.
The letter was signed by NALC Fredric Rolando, APWU President Mark Dimondstein, NPMHU President John Hegarty and NRLCA President Jeannette Dwyer.
Although they noted that the Postal Service posted an operating profit of $623 million in 2013 and is projecting a $1.1 billion operating profit this year, the union presidents acknowledged that “the Postal Service needs serious reform.”
Reform is needed to deal with both negative and positive technological change, they said, and to overcome the crushing burden to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. The pre-funding mandate, which was imposed by the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, was directly responsible for more than 80 percent of deficits reported between 2007 and 2013, the letter notes.
Following the introduction of the original version of S. 1486, the letter points out, the postal unions “offered the Committee an alternative package of reforms that would strengthen the Postal Service without damaging and self-defeating service cuts, and without unfair measures directed at postal employees.”
“We hoped that the newest version of S. 1486 would embrace these reforms, restoring the Postal Service to profitability and viability for years and years to come,” they wrote.
Although the substitute bill adopted many of the reforms the unions proposed, “It retains the service cuts and employee hits contained in the original bill,” the union presidents said.