Postal Workers tell Congress to deliver postal reform before year’s end
Doug Fischer, a city letter carrier for the post office in Aurora, Colo., delivers an express mail package while dressed as Santa Claus. Postal Workers are pushing Congress to deliver a major postal reform package before adjourning for the year. | David Zalubowski / AP

WASHINGTON—The Postal Workers are pushing Congress to approve comprehensive postal reform before the end of this year, but it appears that even the Democratic-run House isn’t listening.

Instead, leaders have yet to schedule a debate and vote on the measure, HR3076, and referred it to two key committees, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce. The original deadline for those panels’ action was Dec. 3. Now it’s Jan. 21, 2022.

The legislation, backed by the Postal Workers (APWU), the Letter Carriers (NALC), the Mail Handlers/ Laborers, and other unions, attempts to solve the long-running red ink—on paper—that has engulfed the U.S. Postal Service for more than a decade. One committee that handles postal legislation, Oversight and Government Reform, already approved the bill.

A GOP-run Congress created the red ink in 2006. Lawmakers catered to the corporate class and the radical right, which wanted and still wants to carve up the USPS, sell off the most-profitable sections to the highest bidder, and leave the rest of the country hung out to dry.

Their key weapon: Imposing a $5.5 billion yearly USPS payment to fund future retirees’ health insurance. That cash drain threw the USPS into the red, even as first-class mail and package revenues rose, despite the internet and the coronavirus-caused economic crash.

And then former GOP Oval Office occupant Donald Trump compounded the mess by strong-arming the USPS board into naming corporate executive Louis DeJoy, a major Republican campaign donor, as Postmaster General—with orders to cut costs by cutting people, closing sorting centers, and slowing the mail.

DeJoy, with the board’s backing, did so, enthusiastically and over the objections of APWU, NALC, lawmakers, and, of course, customers.

HR3076, the union-backed legislation, would undo that health care mandate and open other sources of new revenue for the USPS, too. It would also reverse DeJoy’s slowdowns while letting Postal Workers and Letter Carriers really move the mail.

“Simply put, the prefunding mandate makes our jobs harder, and makes winning the strong wages and benefits we deserve at the bargaining table even more difficult,” APWU e-mailed.

“The Postal Service Reform Act (HR3076), would repeal the pre-funding mandate and enact critical reforms our union has long fought for, like protecting six-day delivery, adding cost-saving Medicare integration for future retirees, and increasing transparency in Postal Service management,” the union adds. DeJoy advocated ending Saturday delivery service but backed off.

The email and a related petition target Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, pressing him to move the measure by the end of the year. “Urge Congressman Neal: Put the Postal Service Reform Act to a vote now, to ensure the USPS is financially sound for years to come,” it declares. The House now anticipates quitting Dec. 10, though that will likely slip into the following week, and not coming back until Jan. 10, 2022.

The letter on the petition elaborates why.

“Given the urgent need for reform and the rapidly approaching end of the congressional session, we…urge you to complete any improvements to HR 3076 this week,” which ends Dec. 10, “so postal reform may move out of the committee and reach the floor for a vote before Congress goes into recess.”

“The Postal Service Reform Act has strong bipartisan support and would enshrine desperately needed reforms to the funding and operational structure of the USPS into law. Quick passage of this bill is critical not only for bolstering bi-partisan momentum in the Senate but also for the future survival and to maintain public confidence in the Postal Service.”

That public confidence was at 91% in a poll APWU released earlier this year. But lawmakers repeatedly report it’s now in danger. DeJoy’s moves—for cost-cutting, privatizing, or to try to help Trump win the 2020 election by curbing vote-by-mail options—didn’t help.

United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, left, points his finger at President of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, Mark Dimondstein, after a House hearing on Capitol Hill, Feb. 24, 2021, in Washington. | Graeme Jennings / Pool via AP

And he’s followed those machinations this year with a plan to cut costs by closing mail sorting centers and, since the USPS couldn’t meet its delivery standards after his prior cuts, lowering the standards.

The old standards said mail should get from Chicago to Los Angeles within three calendar days. Now it’s supposed to arrive within five, DeJoy’s standards say.

Even mail from Chicago to upstate Wisconsin—Green Bay rather than Milwaukee—would take up to three days, not overnight. HR3076 orders USPS to restore the old standards.

“As Postal Workers, we have worked tirelessly to serve our communities through some of the toughest challenges this country has ever seen. Now, it’s time for Congress to do their job, and deliver the funds and reforms we need to keep serving the American people,” the petition concludes.



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.