USPS postal reforms go against US Constitution, union claims

The powerful American Postal Workers’ Union has savaged postal reforms put forward by US Senator Tom Carper to improve the workings of the loss-making United States Postal Service.

The Union, which represents about 360,000 USPS workers, said yesterday that the proposals in the POST Act were of “significant concern” to postal employees, and that the legislation was not worthy of support without “major modifications”.

APWU president William Burrus denounced the extra powers the bill would give the USPS to close small post offices for financial reasons, and to take the financial health of the Postal Service into account when bargaining with the unions.

Put forward at the end of September, many of the provisions within Senator Carper’s Postal Operations Sustainment and Transformation (POST) Act were based on the USPS management’s own recovery plan to pull itself out of multi-billion dollar annual losses.

Burrus said allowing the USPS more freedom to close down small post offices would go against the Constitutional purpose of the Postal Service “to bind the nation together”.

The APWU president, who is soon to retire, claimed that the move was pandering to large mailers pushing to keep postal rates down by cutting services to “a large swath of America”.

“The Post Act would dramatically change the mission of the USPS from providing service to the entire nation to serving a small sector of the business community,” he said.

The APWU president accused Senator Carper of a “deliberate effort to reduce the wages and benefits of postal employees” by targeting the union negotiation process.

Burrus said the Senator from Delaware had been a prominent supporter of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which he said had caused some of the financial difficulties for the USPS in the first place, for example by putting in place requirements to pre-fund future staff healthcare liabilities.

In seeking to correct the previous bill’s “mistake”, the union leader suggested Senator Carper was now seeking to cut staff wages – while wrapping up the move as a “reasonable approach” to labor relations.

He said: “Lacking the will to look postal employees in the eye and tell them that they should take major pay cuts and benefit reductions, this proposal is couched in terms of moderation.”

The APWU is currently in the middle of negotiations with the USPS regarding the next pay deal for its members, with the present deal set to run out on November 20.

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