House Committee Adopts Postal Reform Bill;
Rejects Recommendations of President's Commission
Burrus Update # 7-2004, May 13, 2004
The House Government Reform Committee voted unanimously May 12 to approve the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2004. In doing so, it resoundingly rejected the anti-worker and anti-consumer recommendations of the President's Commission on the U.S. Postal Service.
None of the Bush Commission's proposals to cut workers wages and benefits were adopted by the House Committee, and a Commission recommendation to authorize large-scale post office closings was also discarded.
In addition, the committee members voted to prohibit excessive 'worksharing' discounts that subsidize the mailing industry; granted the USPS greater flexibility in rate-setting; approved the transfer of military retirement costs of postal veterans to the Treasury Department; approved the release of retirement funds from escrow; and embraced the principle of uniform rates. These were all issues the APWU had identified as crucial to meaningful postal reform.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee released a "discussion draft" of its postal reform bill on May 12 as well. Although the union is withholding judgment on the Senate bill until we have analyzed it further, we have serious concerns about several provisions. We are especially concerned by proposals that would gut OWCP, and those that would continue excessive postage discounts.
Our fight is far from over, and we must remain vigilant. Please continue to monitor the APWU Web site for updates, and be prepared to contact your elected representatives.
The bill adopted by the House Committee, was, however, an important step toward real postal reform. Among the recommendations of the Presidential Commission that were excluded from the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (H.R. 4341):
I want to publicly thank Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA), and Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), John McHugh (R-NY), and Danny Davis (D-IL), who led a bipartisan effort to draft the bill. These legislators and their staffs engaged in lengthy negotiations with the APWU and other interested parties to formulate a bill that all the groups felt they could support. This was no small task.