APWU Sues Bush Over Failure To Appoint USPS Advisory Council

July 17, 2008

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The APWU filed suit against President George W. Bush and Postmaster General John E. Potter in District Court July 16 over their failure to appoint a Postal Service Advisory Council, as required by federal law.

“The Postal Service is required to ‘consult with and receive the advice of the Advisory Council regarding all aspects of postal operations,’” APWU President William Burrus wrote in an April 11, 2008, letter to the president. That letter was a follow-up to a similar letter to Potter last September.

“Despite my entreaties, the advisory panel has not been appointed,” Burrus said in announcing the July 16 lawsuit. “So, of course, no meeting or consultation with the Advisory Council has occurred.”

The lawsuit, which names “Defendant George W. Bush [in] his official capacity as President of the United States,” notes that the purpose and makeup of the Postal Service Advisory Council was outlined in the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 (39 U.S.C. § 206), and was reconfirmed by Congress with the passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006.

Under the law, the postmaster general serves as chairman of the council, the deputy postmaster general serves as vice-chair, and the president is required to appoint 11 other members, including four nominated by postal labor unions; four representatives of major mail users; and three representing the public at large. The postmaster general is named in the suit because the responsibility for forming the council may have been delegated to him as chief executive officer of the Postal Service.

“As we said in April, it is critical that the Advisory Council be established,” Burrus said. “These are crucial times for the Postal Service and its employees, with ongoing realignment of the mail-processing network, evolving service standards, and implementation of new rate-setting provisions enacted by the PAEA. An advisory panel is more important now than at any time since the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act.”

The lawsuit asserts that “APWU and its members have been substantially harmed by the failure and refusal of President Bush and the Postmaster General to perform their non-discretionary duties under Section 206 of the PRA.”

Other parties interested in postal operations — particularly large mailers whose interests are often adverse to those of postal workers — have another avenue to consult with and provide advice to the Postal Service, the suit notes. Through the Mailers Technical Advisory Council (MTAC), representatives of large business mailers make recommendations to senior USPS management on postal operations, postal rates, and postal regulations; but MTAC excludes representatives of individuals and small businesses. The APWU filed a suit May 30, 2007, challenging secret policy-making by the USPS and MTAC, but the suit was dismissed March 28, 2008.

The July 16 lawsuit asks that the president and the postmaster general be ordered to perform their “non-discretionary duties” by appointing the Postal Service Advisory Council.

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