Mailing Industry Executives Tell Workers to Sacrifice
Are Their Profits Sacred?
Burrus Update 16-2009, Oct. 14, 2009
Postal unions realize that Congress’ vote last month to give the USPS just a one-year reprieve from a crushing financial obligation means additional legislative action will be needed to help the Postal Service remain viable. So it was no surprise to hear that representatives of trade groups for major mailers say the legislature may be compelled to address postal reform again.
It was shocking, however, to read that the president of the Association for Postal Commerce suggests that “the time has come for postal employees to start sharing some of the sacrifices.”
As APWU members know, postal employees have made tremendous sacrifices as the USPS confronts financial difficulties. More than 40,000 jobs have been wiped out in the last year; thousands of employees have been reassigned to work sites hundreds of miles from their homes; and part-time employees have had their hours slashed.
But the real irony is this: The Postal Service’s financial debacle is the result of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which the Association for Postal Commerce strenuously advocated. The 2006 law requires the agency to pre-fund retiree healthcare benefits at a cost of more than $5 billion a year for 10 years – an obligation no other federal agency or private company bears. This requirement is the reason the Postal Service has been teetering on the edge of insolvency.
The PAEA was clearly a colossal blunder, yet those who fought for it now suggest that postal workers should pay for their mistake. To make matters worse, the Association for Postal Commerce vociferously defends excessive workshare discounts that allow major mailers to reap handsome profits.
I have issued a challenge to the Postmaster General:
Discontinue the exorbitant postage discounts that are offered to large mailers — which are currently as high as 10.5 cents per letter — and allow members of the APWU to perform all mail-processing functions at the rate of 10.4 cents for every letter and flat.