July 31, 2009
Amendment to Senate bill would devastate employee pay and benefits
We got a call today from NC APWU State Council President Larry Sorrells about an urgent need for support from our labor movement.
The United States Senate will vote on a bill next week that includes a provision which would be devastating to postal employees. From the APWU:
APWU President William Burrus has called on APWU locals and state organizations to organize opposition to a Senate bill that contains a provision that would be devastating to postal workers. The Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Funding Reform Act of 2009 (S. 1507) was intended to provide temporary financial relief to the cash-strapped Postal Service, but an amendment to the bill has rendered it unacceptable to postal workers.
Because a vote on the bill is expected early next week, before the Senate adjourns for its August recess, local and state activists must move quickly, Burrus said.
“I call on every APWU local to generate messages to their senators based on a 1 to 5 ratio of their members,” Burrus said. “If the bill passes as written, it will destroy collective bargaining for postal workers.”
The amendment would require arbitrators ruling on postal contracts to take into account the “financial health of the Postal Service.”
“Given the severity of Postal Service’s financial crisis, if this bill passes, we can anticipate that in the next round of negotiations, many of the things our members take for granted – such as cost-of-living increases, raises, and protection against layoffs – will be at risk.” Under current law, arbitrators must consider the “comparability” of postal wages to employees in the private sector who perform similar work.
“In fact, arbitrators routinely consider the Postal Service’s financial status as part of the context of negotiations,” Burrus said. “However, to attach this specific requirement to the law leaves workers at a severe disadvantage.
“By singling out this one factor, the amended bill would give the Postal Service’s short-term financial conditions supremacy over all other relevant considerations. It will make the bargaining process subject to all-out manipulation.”
There are those in Congress that would take any opportunity to engage in union busting. The APWU has setup a web site where you can send a message to Senators Hagan and Burr and urge them to reject this attack on employees at the U.S. Postal Service.