Documents released earlier this summer by the Postal Regulatory Commission reveal the extent to which the U.S. Postal Service wants to privatize the service and muscle out unionized labor.
After the American Postal Workers Union a filed a lawsuit and made a Freedom of Information Act request the Postal Regulatory Commission coughed up documents with damning allegations. Mostly, the legal papers spelled out how the U.S. Postal Service’s arrangement to sell stamps and other products through Staples office supply megastores was a major step in a concerted effort to gradually change the USPS into a private unaccountable commercial entity http://www.apwu.org/news/web-news-article/prc-documents-shed-light-shady-staples-privatization-deal.
In fact, the Staples deal was reportedly supposed to serve as a model for how the USPS was going to overhaul its retail operations.
This push all allegedly started in 2011 when the postal service and then-Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe began closing post offices and postal distribution facilities in an effort to save money and cut out inefficiencies in its workings.
For-profit corporations often downsize employees when they’re about to be sold. Are the USPS’s actions any different?
The labor union will no doubt introduce these PRC documents into its complaint against the postal service before the National Labor Relations Board later this month. In that case the APWU accuses the USPS of illegally circumventing its established collective bargaining agreement.
But the NLRB isn’t likely to rule on this case anytime soon.Even if the NLRB rules in favor of the union the postal service is likely to appeal the decision to a federal circuit court. And the USPS more than likely will shop around for a conservative jurisdiction that’s disposed to uphold its anti-labor positions.
We may be getting a little ahead of ourselves right now but don’t think for a minute that the USPS’s corporate lawyers haven’t thought of this already.
At the same time the postal service is still hell-bent on downsizing although it was forced to suspend its plans to shutter 82 more distribution facilities back in May after enough Senators from rural states raised enough hell.
But that suspension only lasts until next April.
Rural communities will suffer greatly from these cutbacks in staffing and service standards. They still depend heavily on their post offices partly because they are less likely to be heavily wired into online delivery and Internet culture than larger metropolitan areas, according to the Concord Monitor http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/17650342-95/my-turn-postal-service-shortfalls-impact-rural-areas.
This trend is getting so out of hand that four Senators recently introduced a bill that would:
*Restore stronger service standards, and place a two-year moratorium on the closure of additional mail processing plants.
*Permanently preserve six-day mail delivery, instead of renewing it every year in appropriations bills.
*Protect rural post offices from closures, require specific procedures before reducing operating hours at rural post offices.
Enable communities to formally petition the Postal Service to undo closures or reductions in hours
Those Senators are Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jon Tester (D-UT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Gary Peters (D-MI).
Unfortunately this measure may be only symbolic since both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans who are generally considered pro-business and often think the USPS is obsolete and out of date.
Maybe the APWU’s legal actions and continued pressure from Senators can help impede the USPS’s relentless march toward privatization.