APWU Joins Civil Rights, Financial Reform Groups Urging Senate to Reject Nominees to USPS Board of Governors

October 2, 2015

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The APWU joined civil rights groups, labor organizations and financial reform groups on Sept. 30 in urging Senate leaders to reject a slate of nominees to the USPS Board of Governors.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid, they wrote, “Our organizations are in agreement that it would be preferable to continue with a stripped-down Board of Governors than to fill those vacancies with a slate that includes nominees whose policy stances would be harmful to the USPS and ultimately to the public it serves.” Only three of nine governor slots are filled. Members of the board are appointed by the president and must be approved the Senate, which plans to consider four nominees as a package.

Signing the letter were Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO; Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform; Janet Murgia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza; Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, Hillary Shelton, vice president of the NAACP; Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME; Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League; Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU, and APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

“Given the harmful effects of payday lending on the communities we represent, and given the value of and need for a vibrant, public Postal Service that provides affordable, universal mail service to all – including rich and poor, rural and urban, without regard to age, nationality, race, or gender – we are especially troubled by the nominations of Mickey D. Barnett, who has previously worked as a lobbyist for the payday lending industry, and of James C. Miller, III, who dating back at least to his tenure as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 1985-88, has strongly supported privatizing the Postal Service.”

The groups said they were especially concerned about Mr. Barnett’s ties with payday lending industry because of “the close relationship between the USPS and the communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by payday lending and other predatory forms of credit.

“Because the USPS is located nationwide in both urban and rural areas, it serves as an important employer in these communities and a potential lifeline to other essential services. It is no surprise that a Gallup poll released in November 2014 shows that Americans deliver high marks to USPS, rated highest out of 13 major federal agencies. This suggests the public’s willingness to consider the USPS as a potential venue for an array of important financial services.

“We would be deeply troubled if anyone confirmed to a leadership position within the USPS used that position to promote the sorts of practices we have seen in the payday lending industry, or to block the advancement of alternatives.

“Mr. Miller, on the other hand, has been clear about his own troubling preferences for the future of the U.S. Postal Service,” they wrote. “Speaking at his 2012 Senate confirmation hearing on his second nomination to the board, Mr. Miller stated that ‘I think it would be best for the world, for the economy, and for the American people if the Postal Service was de-monopolized and privatized.’

“Our organizations believe that a public Postal Service is vital to our democracy and to commerce. While proponents of privatization point to cost savings and efficiency, recent examples such as the privatization of parking meters in Chicago cast serious doubt on these assertions. Furthermore, recent studies show that outsourcing government functions lead to a weakened infrastructure, insufficient oversight, crumbling tax bases, and a decline in wages and benefits. Privatization of our public Postal Service also undermines a fundamental tenet of democracy: a network that allows universal and affordable civic and political discourse, binding together each and every household in the country.

“At a time when the future of the USPS is unclear, largely because of Congress’s inability to pass a comprehensive reform bill, it is especially important that the Board of Governors be composed of individuals who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the public service role of this great institution, and who have shown an openness to exploring all reasonable, public service-oriented options which might contribute to the vitality and sustainability of the USPS."

“We must urge you to reject the current slate of nominees,” the letter concluded.


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