APWU Takes PRC to Court Over Refusal to Enforce Service Standards

June 29, 2015

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The APWU has taken the Postal Regulatory Commission to court, challenging the commission’s decision to dismiss its complaint that the Postal Service is failing to meet service standards. The union filed the Petition for Review on May 29 in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and submitted a Statement of Issues to be Raised on June 18.

In dismissing the APWU’s allegations of system-wide service failures, the PRC concluded that service standards are simply “expectations,” and, as a result, the commission could not compel the Postal Service to adhere to them. The appeal challenges those assertions.

“If it is allowed to stand, the PRC’s ruling would render any service standards meaningless,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “It would make a mockery of the Postal Service’s legal obligation to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services.” The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) requires the PRC to issue orders to the USPS to remedy violations of service standards.

Not Simply a Legal Matter

But the union’s court case is not simply a stand-alone legal maneuver, the union president pointed out. It is part of the APWU’s strategy of fighting to protect the public Postal Service and fighting for better mail service. “The appeal is another vivid example of how the demands of postal workers reflect the people’s demands for good postal service,” Dimondstein said.

The APWU advanced those goals during contract negotiations – seeking the addition of new services, such as postal banking, notary, and licensing, along with expanded hours and access at post offices, he pointed out.

The union also advanced those objectives by supporting the adoption by the House Appropriations Committee on June 17 of an amendment that would restore service standards to the levels that existed prior to Jan. 5, he said.  The Postal Service first lowered standards effective July 1, 2012. The APWU has been challenging diminished service standards ever since.

Lowered Again

On Jan. 5, the Postal Service lowered service standards, eliminating overnight delivery of first-class mail within cities and towns, and slowing delivery of two- and three-day mail throughout the country.

Since the new standards were implemented in January, service has plummeted. Letters and packages are failing to arrive at their destination on time, even when measured against the new, lower requirements. In the first seven weeks of 2015, on-time delivery scores for first-class mail declined by 15.59 percent, three- to five- day mail dropped 22.6 percent, and two-day mail fell almost 4 percent.

“There is mounting evidence that the Postal Service is not meeting even these more relaxed standards,” wrote the highly-respected website Save the Post Office, “and the APWU has been trying to get the PRC to do something about it.  But each time the APWU has filed a complaint, the Commission has dismissed it. Now the APWU is looking to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals for relief.”

The APWU is committed to the struggle for improved service, Dimondstein said. “By fighting for better service and a strong, public Postal Service, the union is also fighting to protect good jobs that strengthen our communities,” Dimondstein said. “We will continue the battle for good, living-wage jobs and for a strong, public mail system that gives the people the service they expect and deserve.”

Timeline of APWU Challenges to Lowered Postal Service Standards

September 2013 – APWU files a complaint with the PRC, asserting that the Postal Service had failed to meet the standards established in July 2012. 

November 2013 – PRC dismisses the complaint (in part). 

December 2013 – APWU files an amended complaint.

February 2014 – PRC dismisses amended complaint. 

March 2014 – APWU files a motion for reconsideration.

May 2015 – PRC dismisses the complaint. 

May 2015 – APWU files petition challenging the PRC order with the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit. 

June 2015 – APWU submits Statement of Issues to Be Raised.

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