Unions Focus on House After Senate Passes Flawed Postal Reform Bill

Cross-posted from AFL-CIO Now Blog

The battle over postal reform legislation now moves to the House of Representatives after the Senate yesterday passed (62-37) a bill (S. 1789) that postal union leaders called flawed. They vow to fight the House version (H.R. 2309) that is even more damaging to postal workers and the communities they serve.

Letter Carriers (NALC) President Fredric Rolando says:

The legislation embraces a downsizing strategy and fails to fully lift the onerous burden to fund decades of future retiree health benefits decades in advance. If it were to become law, it would be almost impossible to save Saturday mail delivery for the American people and their businesses. But this fight to Save America’s Postal Service is far from over.

Postal Workers (APWU) President Cliff Guffey says:

We will now take our fight to the House of Representatives where we hope to improve the bill. We call on our members, small businesses, individual customers and lawmakers to re-double our efforts to save America’s Postal Service.

In a statement, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (a Laborers affiliate) called the House bill, “the epitome of anti-union, anti-worker legislation.”

The Senate bill preserves six-day delivery for now but gives the Postmaster General the authority to cut back to five-day delivery after two years, at the cost of 80,000 jobs, according to the NALC.

A number of amendments backed by the unions failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage. But an amendment from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that preserves door-to-door delivery was approved. The USPS has proposed installing new group boxes, like those in apartment complexes, for entire neighborhoods or streets with residential homes. An amendment by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to protect workers’ health benefits also was approved.

The Senate passed a non-binding “Sense of the Senate” amendment to extend the moratorium on USPS plans to close about half its mail processing plants and about 3,600 post offices, costing as many as 100,000 jobs. It is due to expire May 15. It approved an amendment placing limits on the closings of rural post offices.

The Senate bill also provides for greater community input and allows for an independent review before post offices or mail processing centers are closed. The bill establishes—for the first time—service standards, which will help protect service and jobs.

It is unclear when the House bill will come to the floor.

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