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Postal Service Unions battle in Washington to save USPS

08.01.12

AUGUST 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Postal Service Unions battle in Washington to save USPS

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, July 15th- The unions that represent workers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) are continuing their battle in Washington to save the mail delivery service from deep cuts that the unions state are politically motivated and unnecessary.

The unions have gained the support among a bipartisan majority in the United States House of Representatives for several bills that would maintain six-day delivery and recalulate the current system for pre-funding retiree benefits. The pre-funding legislation was passed in 2006 and forces the agency to fund pensions for workers 75 years in advance, meaning funds are being used to pay for retirement benefits for workers that have not even been born yet. Without that provision of the pension issue the USPS would have made a profit the unions maintain.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) represent the majority of USPS workers with a combined membership of nearly 410,000 workers.

The two unions have argured that no other business in the nation faces pension funding requirements. Also, they have pointed out the USPS has already downsized by more than 110,000 jobs since 2008.

The USPS announced in May it would consolidate 48 mail processing centers throughout the nation including moving the operations of one in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The agency stated the consolidating the mail processing centers would save nearly $1.2 billion a year. Approximately 5,000 workers will be immediately affected by the consolidation including around 300 in Scranton, which will be offered jobs at the Processing Center in the Lehigh Valley. There are currently around 487 mail processing centers in the United States.

The USPS stated it plans to close about 250 processing centers after their downsizing plan is fully implemented in 2014, which the unions are attempting to stop. Many of the the jobs affected are APWU members. Local 268 represents APWU members in the Lehigh Valley.

The reason for the cutbacks is because of the declining mail volume caused by the recession and customers no longer using the mail service.

Several Republican House of Representatives are pushing legislation in Washington that would force radical changes to the USPS and would virtually eliminate contractural bargaining rights for USPS workers. The USPS employs more union workers than any other employer in the nation.

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