The U.S. Postal Service cancelled its deal to sell postal products through Staples office products superstores, in a victory for the American Postal Workers Union. But that may be hollow in face of what the incoming all-Republican government wants to do with federal workers–including postal employees.
The USPS will discontinue selling postal products in all its nationwide locations in March, due largely to pressure from the APWU, which led a nationwide boycott against the company for about three years. On top of that, the union took this matter to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which in November ruled that the USPS’s arrangement with Staples violated collective bargaining agreements with the union.
The postal service had previously estimated that this arrangement with Staples could cut its labor costs by a whopping 66 percent. It would also undercut the power of the union.
OK score one for labor right now, maybe.
According to the APWU, the postal service informed it in writing that it would abort the deal with Staples. Maybe it wasn’t worth it to further engage in what was more than likely protracted legal battle with the labor group. Just the same, a rabidly anti-union Trump NLRB would surely have overturned the labor board’s earlier ruling.
But the APWU and federal government workers are likely going to have serious problems going forward.
As Trump prepares to take office, Congressional Republicans are wasting no time in trying to gut federal worker protections and compensation.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has proposed a bill that would make it easier to fire government workers, cut their compensation and even remove many from Washington, DC, according to the Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/01/10/beware-chaffetz-committee-plans-broad-agenda-affecting-feds/?utm_term=.1ff9f249a818.
Central to Chaffetz’s proposals are schemes to cut down on employee pensions and getting them to contribute more to their own retirement plans. A less generous pension plan may be on the offing for postal workers anyway.
More than a year ago, Sen Thomas Carper (D-DE) proposed a postal reform bill that would require newly hired employees to pay more out of pocket for their retirement plans. This practice has been going on for very many years in the private sector.
Then there’s the separate issue of making the USPS pay more than $5.8 billion a year to cover the healthcare costs of future retirees until well into the next century. This was part of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act which many observers saw as a stratagem for killing off a public postal service and paving the way for a possible privatization.
Carper’s 2015 bill offered a way to modify this obligation. The measure did not seek its outright repeal but, hey, politicians always look for compromises. It didn’t matter anyway since the bill never saw the light of day.
The new all-GOP Congress will undoubtedly spurn any proposal that could in any way benefit workers or preserve a public postal service.
In fact, Chaffetz’s rhetoric sounds strikingly similar to that of Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) his processor as Chairman House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Issa had a renowned hostility for unions and kept introducing draconian postal reform bills he knew well would never go anywhere.
The only silver lining here, if you could call it that, lies in the fact that Trump has his hands full with trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pursuing other pie-in-the sky ideas he thinks can become law instantly.
Does our incoming President have the patience to get involved with an issue as complex and unexciting as the postal service?
As if he ever knew or cared anything about the USPS.