Turning Our Attention to the 117th Congress

Judy Beard

January 11, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

APWU members have so much to be proud of right now. With the fate of USPS and our union jobs hanging in the balance, we gave the Georgia runoff election our all.

Together, we elected Reverend Raphael Warnock (D) and Jon Ossoff (D) as Georgia’s newest senators, helping secure a pro-worker, pro-Postal Service majority in the Senate.

We registered people to vote, made sure voters requested and returned their mail-in ballots, helped people find their polling locations, and had meaningful conversations with our fellow union co-workers, family members, and neighbors about the issues at stake. You spent significant time and energy making phone calls, sending texts and emails, and knocking on doors. When the people’s right to the public Postal Service and our democracy are under attack, APWU members always show up.

Our fight to pass crucial legislation continues. Now we have the opportunity to strengthen our union jobs, secure concrete victories for working people, and win additional funding for the USPS. To make that a reality, we must press on and keep holding our elected officials accountable. As we enter into the 117th Congress, and President Joe Biden and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris begin their first 100 days in office, we must turn our attention to crucial legislative fights ahead.

I am proud of you for the energy and courage you brought to the challenges we have faced. Together, amid the coronavirus pandemic and attacks on our public Postal Service, we secured $10 billion emergency funding via H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which passed in late December. Unlike previous COVID-19 packages, this funding will be available at the Postal Service’s request and will not need to be paid back.

Immediately after the November 3 election, your Legislative & Political department began laying the groundwork for much needed legislative reforms to ensure that the Postal Service may continue serving the American public. We now have a window of opportunity to make real changes in this 117th Congress, as well as advocate for the appointment of individuals to the USPS Board of Governors who support a vibrant, public Postal Service.

As always, we will continue to fight for the issues that are important to us, including:

Removing the unfair pre-funding requirement by passing the USPS Fairness Act. The pre-funding mandate makes up 88 percent of USPS financial losses. While the House of Representatives passed the USPS Fairness Act in the last Congress, it never made it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Investing in USPS infrastructure. In the last Congress, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, providing USPS with $25 billion to invest in a new electric fleet and rebuild its infrastructure. With a new Senate and White House, we will fight even harder to make sure USPS has the resources it needs to better serve the American public.

Providing needed sick leave for workers. On December 31, 2020, public health emergency leave to employees affected by the virus under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired. We will fight to have this leave reinstated.

Ensuring adequate access to the postal services. APWU will continue fighting to prevent mail slowdowns and post office and facility closures. Access to a local post office and reliable services are rights!

Diversifying the products and services the Postal Service can offer. Current law restricts the United States Postal Service from offering new non-postal products and services. They should be free to innovate and provide needed, dynamic services to the public.

A complete list of the Legislative Priorities will be updated throughout the year and can be found on the APWU Legislative & Political Department page.

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