AUGUST 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News
Massive United States Postal Service reform bill introduced
BY PAUL TUCKER
LEHIGH VALLEY, July 14th- The labor unions that represent workers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) are mobilizing to save jobs and keep mail delivery six days.
On July 20th, the USPS Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe stated it is possible 15 to 20 years from now mail delivery could even be cut to three days a week.
On June 23rd, United States House of Representative Darrell Issa (Republican-California), the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Representative Dennis Ross (Republican-Florida), Chairman of the committee’s subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and District of Columbia, introduced a comprehensive postal reform bill. The bill would allow the USPS to eliminate Saturday delivery, and would repeal the right of postal employees to bargain over health and life insurance benefits.
The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union, which represents delivery personnel of the USPS, stated the legislation fails to address the central cause of the financial crisis facing the Postal Service, the unique mandate to massively pre-fund future retiree health benefits that accounts for 100 percent of the USPS losses over the past four years.
The NALC said the bill instead proposes radical changes that would recklessly downsize the Postal Service in a way that would damage the $1.3 trillion mailing industry.
NALC International Union President Fredric Rolando stated under the Issa-Ross plan, tens if not hundreds of thousands of good middle-class jobs, many of them filled for decades by millitary veterans, would be destroyed.
The core of the legislation is the creation of two unelected groups authorized to take extreme steps to cut costs and reduce services, one to generate lists of post offices and facilities to be closed and one to serve as financial overseers with the power to alter or nullify collective bargaining agreements and to make other operational decisions to reduce expenses, which would effectively marginalized the Board of Governors and the United States Congress.
Because of the decline in mail volume mostly caused by the recession and the shift of people to the internet to pay bills, over the past four years, the USPS cut its staff by 110,000 and reduced costs by $12 billion.
NALC stated they will continue to work with Washington to develop more moderate and sensible solutions to the USPS problems.