Legislative & Political Dept.
Postal Reform – At the 11th Hour
Legislative and Political Department Director
(This article first appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
With the expiration of a moratorium on the consolidation and closure of mail processing plants and post offices approaching, there has been a tremendous amount of activity about postal legislation on Capitol Hill — and a tremendous amount of activity in the APWU Legislative and Political Department.
The impending end of the moratorium has forced politicians and interested parties to step up their efforts to solve the USPS financial crisis.
But the road has not been a smooth one. And as we go to press, the future of postal reform legislation is uncertain.
The major postal bill introduced in the Senate last November, S. 1789, was seriously fl awed: Because it failed to resolve the underlying cause of the USPS financial crisis, it would have resulted in the closure of hundreds of mail processing plants and thousands of post offices.
Since the bill was introduced, the APWU has worked tirelessly to win support for amendments to the legislation that would make the bill acceptable to postal workers.
We have found significant support from many members of Congress, but reaching an agreement that would be acceptable to all interested groups is a daunting task.
Spotlight on Service Standards
The APWU has focused special attention on maintaining current service standards. This issue took on particular significance when the USPS admitted that its consolidation plan could only be carried out if the USPS was allowed to degrade service standards. If more than 200 plants were closed, the Postal Service announced in September, it would not be able to deliver first-class letters and periodicals overnight and would not be able to deliver two-day mail and three-day mail in the time that is currently allotted.
Following the USPS announcement, postal workers began to find more allies among the owners of small businesses and other customers that rely on prompt delivery, and more politicians began to appreciate the importance of protecting mail processing plants.
But the USPS has lobbied hard for the unilateral right to close and consolidate plants and post offices, and has convinced some elected officials that massive cutbacks are necessary to solve the Postal Service’s financial difficulties.
The Postal Service has been seeking an array of other proposals we oppose as well, including one to remove postal workers from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
To become law, bills must pass both the House and Senate, and differences between the two versions must be reconciled. With the partisan atmosphere that dominates Congress, getting any legislation passed is extremely difficult.
We have been working non-stop to win support for our position on Capitol Hill. How successful we will be remains to be seen. One thing is certain: We need your help.