APWU President Testifies Before Congress
Biden names APWU lawyer to the Postal Service Board of Governors
On Wednesday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and APWU President Mark Dimondstein testified before Congress about the failures that the Postal Service faced since DeJoy took over. They also talked about the needs that the service has to get back on track.
In his testimony, Dimondstein said that on-time delivery has fallen to record lows partially due to underinvestment in the service. He also proposed some ideas that Congress could take up to help the postal service. First, Congress needs to eliminate the 2006 mandate that USPS pre-fund healthcare benefits decades in advance which accounts for over 84% of postal service losses in the past 15 years. Second, he suggested taking the $45 billion that is in the retiree fund and move 50% away from low-yield Treasury bonds into high-performing funds with a history of performing well. Since the yield on these funds is low, the post office is forced to dip into its operating budget every year to fully fund the program. Third, integrate new postal workers into the Medicare system to reduce the USPS’ healthcare costs. Dimondstein noted that these are not new ideas, but rather ones that have gained bipartisan support in the past. He went on to say that last year the Postal Service’s Board of Governors asked the federal government for $25 billion in COVID relief. They received $10 billion in the December relief package and Dimondstein urged Congress to push through the remaining $15 billion, as well as a $25 billion modernization grant. This grant would allow them to upgrade their facilities, including retiring some of their oldest vehicles which are 30 years old.
This week, the Postal Service began that process by announcing a $482 million contract with Oshkosh Defense to develop a next-generation postal vehicle, including one that could be all-electric or a mix of electric and internal combustion. In January, President Biden vowed to replace the entire federal government’s fleet of 650,000 vehicles with electric ones.
As the hearing was going on, word began to leak that Biden has chosen three people to fill the vacant positions on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors. These people oversee the USPS and have the ability to fire the Postmaster General. According to reports, Biden will select Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar, and Amber McReynolds to sit on the board.
Stroman is a former deputy postmaster general, Hajjar is the former general counsel for APWU, and McReynolds was the CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition, as well as the former head of elections for Denver. DeJoy came under intense criticism last year for delays in delivery right before the election when tens of millions of people voted by mail. DeJoy was close to Trump and a Republican fundraiser, so many believed that the move to slow down mail delivery was politically based to help Trump.
In his testimony, DeJoy said that he is working on a strategic plan that should be ready by the end of March. Some things that could be in the plan include lowering the delivery standard for First Class mail and reducing the use of airplanes to move mail throughout the country.