WASHINGTON (PAI)–The nation’s postal unions – the Letter Carriers, the Postal Workers, the Mail Handlers and the Rural Letter Carriers – have signed what they call an historic joint cooperation pact. And they’ll start putting it into effect with a combined “National Day of Action” on April 24.
And, as usual, the target will be schemes to cut postal services, end Saturday pickup and delivery, and fire or let go by attrition hundreds of thousands of workers.
Mark Dimondstein, the new Postal Workers (APWU) president, Letter Carriers (NALC) President Fredric Rolando, Rural Letter Carriers President Jeannette Dwyer and Mail Handlers President John Hegarty signed the pact. The Mail Handlers are a Laborers sector.
“A congressionally manufactured financial crisis drains the U.S. Postal Service of vital resources,” the presidents’ joint proclamation says. “Six-day delivery is under constant threat of elimination. Reduction of service standards and the elimination of half of the nation’s mail processing centers has slowed service and wiped out tens of thousands of good jobs. Post offices in cities and small towns are being sold or closed or having their hours cut back.
“Corporate privatizers seek to gain control over larger segments of postal operations – and to get their hands on the Postal Service’s $65 billion of annual revenue. The postmaster general’s policies of subcontracting and degrading service are fueling the privatization drive.
“The four postal unions stand together to end the attack,” it says. “We stand with the people of our country in defense of their right to a universal postal service operated in the public interest.”
“We agreed to work together to defend a beloved national treasure,” said Dimondstein.
“Our efforts will benefit all postal employees and the people of this country who expect and deserve a vibrant, public Postal Service for generations to come.”
“Americans value and deserve postal services provided by highly trained, uniformed and accountable employees who work directly for the Postal Service, not for an office-supplies retail chain,” Rolando said. “Just as the members of the APWU stand with the NALC in our battle to preserve 6-day mail delivery service, so do Letter Carriers stand with our brothers and sisters in this fight against privatization.”
One goal is to derail S1486, the latest postal service “modernization” bill, which the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved early this year. Their April 24 action, led by APWU, will also oppose the postmaster general’s scheme to replace unionized middle-class Postal Service workers with non-union low-paid retail workers at USPS “branches” in Staples stores.
And S1486 would let the postmaster general kill Saturday service after two years, order reopening of union contracts so management could slash benefits, and take postal workers out of a well-financed federal health benefits plan in favor of one USPS would run on its own, among other moves.
But the unions won’t be mobilizing just against something. They also will campaign for an alternative measure by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., to let the USPS expand into new lines of business, for re-establishing a “postal savings bank” for individuals, and to end the yearly $5.5 billion yearly USPS advance payment of future retirees’ health care costs.
That payment, which began after a Bush-era postal “reform” bill, accounts for the red ink the postmaster general cites as a reason for his cuts. The USPS is projected to earn $1 billion this year on its operations, as it recovers from the Great Recession, but before the health care payment.
The joint agreement commits the four unions to campaigning for expanded USPS services, forming a common front for genuine postal reform bills, lobbying to below-cost rates to big profitable corporate mailers, joint actions on the local level and “maximum cooperation in the next round of contract negotiations” between the unions and management.