APWU Asks U.S. Lawmakers to Support Citizens’ Right to Be Heard on Consolidation
09/21/2006 - In a letter sent to every member of Congress, APWU President William Burrus asked legislators to support citizens’ efforts to be part of the debate about plans to realign the nation’s mail-processing network. “The Postal Service has failed to consider the concerns of the American people, denied them the information necessary to determine if the revised network will meet their needs, and excluded them from having real input in the decision-making process,” Burrus wrote.
Those who defend efforts to consolidate mail sorting facilities without proper public input have chosen to ignore the intent of federal law that governs the Postal Service, Burrus said in the Sept. 12 letter. Their “disdain for the needs and wishes of ordinary citizens — your constituents,” he wrote, “is evident in a recent editorial in the newsletter of the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association, an association of large mailers.”
The editorial reads, in part: But this is the Postal Service, about which everyone who’s not accountable for it still claims the right to a piece of deciding how it should be run, as if its “public service” status means all Americans get to put in their two-cents worth equally with the PMG [Postmaster General].
“Input from individuals and small businesses is especially important in view of the fact that special interests in the ‘mailing industry’ have clamored for the contemplated changes in order to improve their own bottom line; we believe the changes would be at the expense of service to small businesses and individual customers,” Burrus wrote.
The union president reminded lawmakers of the concerns formally expressed to the Government Accountability Office by many U.S. senators and representatives, quoting from letters they sent to the U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker. In a March 27, 2006, letter co-signed by four members of Congress who serve on committees with oversight responsibility for the Postal Service, legislators wrote, “While we recognize the USPS may need to consolidate its facilities … we are not convinced that USPS is following the recommendations made” by the GAO. A 2005 report by the agency urged the USPS to “establish criteria, inform stakeholders as decisions are made, and evaluate and measure the outcomes of realigning these plants, including the costs and savings that result.”
In a May 1, 2006, letter, Burrus noted, 19 members of Congress said, “Although GAO recommended that USPS improve its efforts to keep stakeholders informed, our communities affected by current plans to consolidate mail processing plants have told us that they have not been adequately informed about the Postal Service’s plans, the extent to which the Postal Service proposed to analyze plant performance and make realignment decisions, or the potential impacts on these communities.”
“We understand and support efforts to make the Postal Service as efficient and cost effective as possible,” Burrus wrote to the nation’s top lawmakers, “and join with other interested parties in support of such goals. We do not, however, support the exclusion of ordinary citizens from the debate.”
“The United States Postal Service is an American treasure that has served our country and its citizenry well,” Burrus said. “Postal employees welcome all efforts to make our service more efficient and cost effective, including the redesign of the processing network, consistent with the USPS obligation to serve the American people.”
“Democracy at its best requires the inclusion of those governed,” Burrus concluded in his letter. “The citizens you represent [are] deserving of a first-class postal system, and we trust that you will support their right to be heard.