APWU Opposes US Withdrawal from UPU

September 23, 2019

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This week, a major conference is taking place in Geneva with possibly wide-reaching effects for postal services and postal workers in the United States and around the world. The U.S. State Department enters the extraordinary congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) prepared to leave the organization if UPU members do not agree upon major changes to the international postage rate structures known as terminal dues.

The American Postal Workers Union opposes the prospective withdrawal.

“Postal workers in the United States support ongoing efforts to ensure fair rate structures in international mail. However, threats to leave the UPU entirely are disproportionate to any existing problem and risk doing more harm than good,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein “Last week the other postal union presidents and I sent a letter to Congress requesting they urge the White House to remain in the UPU.”

The UPU is a United Nations agency that connects people around the world through postal systems in the 192 member countries. For the United States, it allows citizens living abroad to send letters, packages and ballots back home and it permits mailers in the U.S. and around the world to reach friends, family and customers no matter where they live.

The ‘terminal dues system’ determines how posts reimburse each other for delivering mail across national borders. The State Department heads to the UPU conference arguing that the current terminal dues structure unfairly subsidizes manufacturers in developing countries with below-cost shipping to their customers in the United States. The Administration has said if the UPU does not move toward a system of “self-declared rates” to allow the USPS and other posts to independently raise prices on inbound shipments, the United States will quit the UPU and begin negotiations with foreign posts.

One point must be perfectly clear: proposals to leave the UPU were never made with the interests of postal workers or the mailing public in mind. Quitting the UPU now will not protect the Postal Service or help American manufacturers. Instead, it would only benefit the private profit of the global shipping giants (like UPS and FedEx), without the guarantee of universal service for anyone.

“We agree that UPU members should work to bring equity to the international postal system,” said President Dimondstein. “But we firmly believe that the interests of the mailing public, of postal workers and of the USPS are best served from a seat at the negotiating table and not from the outside looking in.”

“And while some may try to score cheap political points off of the issue, the Postal Service faces even bigger challenges right here at home,” President Dimondstein continued. “The onerous and unfair prefunding requirement Congress imposed in the 2006 law has unnecessarily cost the USPS and postal ratepayers more than $5 billion each year, many times more than any reported discrepancy caused by terminal dues.”

Anyone genuinely concerned about the fate of US mailers and shippers should urge the Administration to stay in the UPU and then join us in campaigning for the repeal of the onerous prefunding mandate by supporting H.R. 2382, the USPS Fairness Act.

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