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In Letter to Senate Majority Leader,
Postal Unions Seethe Over Carper-Coburn Bill

APWU Web News Article 093-2013, Aug. 5, 2013

The four postal unions sent a joint letter to Senate Majority Harry Reid on Aug. 5 [PDF] expressing “utter dismay” at the introduction of S. 1486, the postal bill co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The bill continues the disastrous policy of mandating massive pre-funding of retiree health benefits and provides for major downsizing measures to pay for it, the letter notes.

To afford pre-funding costs, “The Carper-Coburn bill would give the USPS tools to slash postal employees’ pension and health benefits by making these federal employee benefits subject to interest arbitration,” the presidents of the APWU, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association said.

“Our unions were not consulted about these proposed major changes to our rights as federal employees or to our collective bargaining process,” the letter points out.

S. 1486 would facilitate the dismantling of the Postal Service’s mail processing, retail and delivery networks, and would seriously harm the 7.5 million Americans who work in private companies that rely on the USPS, the union presidents wrote.

The bill would:

  • Destroy 80,000 full- and part-time jobs after a one-year delay, by eliminating Saturday mail delivery and give the Postmaster General authority to eliminate additional delivery days in the future;

  • Slash tens of thousands of additional jobs after a two-year delay, by allowing USPS to reduce delivery standards and close hundreds of mail processing facilities and thousands of post offices;

  • Mandate the elimination of door-to-door delivery, threatening at least 16,500 additional jobs, and

  • Impose “cruel and discriminatory” changes to the Workers Compensation program that would leave injured federal workers vulnerable to impoverishment when they reach Social Security retirement age.

“This massive downsizing and the bill’s assault on postal employee benefits are not necessary,” the letter says. “They are being driven by the irrational retiree health financing policy that no other business or agency would adopt. The Postal Service has already pre-funded decades of retiree health premiums, more than any other enterprise in America. Indeed, USPS has already set aside an estimated $49 billion for such premiums, approximately 50 percent of total expected costs over the next 90+ years.”

The letter urges Sen. Reid to “actively work to promote postal reform that will create jobs and innovation, not more job cuts and reduced service for the American people.

“The 30 members of the Senate who have co-sponsored S. 316, the Postal Service Protection Act of 2013, have taken the right approach. That bill would strengthen the Postal Service, promote innovation and, most importantly, resolve the retiree health and pension policies that have crippled the Postal Service in recent years,” it says.

The APWU has called on locals and state organizations to meet with lawmakers during Congress’ August recess to discuss postal reform. Together with members of the Mail Handlers Union, APWU members will ask legislators to oppose the Carper-Coburn bill as well as the House bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (H.R. 2748). Union members will ask members of Congress to support the Postal Service Protection Act (S. 316 in the Senate / H.R. 630 in the House). Members of the NALC and NRLCA will also talk to lawmakers during the recess.

[S. 1486 - bill text (PDF)]

[S. 1486 - section-by-section-summary (PDF) prepared by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs]

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