Postal Unions to Biden: Make Bold Changes
The unions want leadership that will help them serve the people not profits
With President Biden having a few weeks to get his feet under him after taking over for Trump, postal worker unions are now pushing him to make changes at the much-maligned Postal Service. They are hoping that Biden will take bold action to stabilize the USPS and get the mail running and back to the high standards that they were delivering on before Trump began meddling with the Post Office.
While many people would like to see Postmaster General Louis DeJoy fired, Biden doesn’t have the power to remove him. Instead, he has the power to appoint new members to the Board of Governors, which will meet this week for the first time since Biden became President.
“We want a Board of Governors that understands fundamentally this is not called the United States Postal Business,” said Mark Dimondstein, the President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). “It’s not a profit-making business. It’s here to serve the people.”
For the immediate future, DeJoy will stay in charge of the Postal Service. The Board of Governors gets to decide who the Postmaster General is, and the board is still made up of Trump appointees. Currently, the Chairperson is Robert Duncan a former Republican National Committee chair. He is joined on the board by three Republican members and two Democratic members. However, once Biden fills all of the vacant positions on the board, Democrats will gain control.
Dimondstein is hoping that Biden will use this opportunity to make bold appointments that work to strengthen the Postal Service.
DeJoy came under increased criticism in 2020 after he took over in June and began instituting “cost-saving” measures like limiting overtime and late or extra trips, that resulted in delayed mail. He also ordered sorting machines to be dismantled. This came as mail volume was surging due to an increase in online shopping and millions of Americans mailing in their ballots for the November election leading to allegations that the changes were politically motivated to help Trump win reelection. By the time Christmas came around nearly one-third of first-class mail was late and at the holiday peak trucks full of mail were left idling outside of postal facilities because there was no room inside to sort the incoming mail. Before DeJoy took over the USPS routinely exceeded a 90% on-time rate for first-class mail.
“At Christmastime, you could barely move in the facility,” said Scott Adams, local president of the American Postal Workers Union in Portland, Maine. “Aisles were blocked with mail.”
Postal unions are also hoping that Biden and Congressional Democrats will finally take up the USPS Fairness Act. This bi-partisan bill would repeal the requirement that the Postal Service prefund their retiree healthcare benefits. This was passed in 2006 and requires them to prefund 75 years in advance, paying health benefits for people not even born yet, let alone working for the Postal Service. This mandate accounts for 92% of their net losses since 2007 and is a constant reason for the financial instability of the Postal Service.
“The 2006 Post Accountability Enhancement Act did something that was absurd, draconian and no other agency or private company ever has had to do,” Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union, said. “It manufactured a financial crisis in the post office."
The repeal is being sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.
“Ending the pre-funding mandate gained immense support from both sides of the aisle in the last Congress,” said APWU Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard. “Now is the time to right the errors of the failed pre-funding policy, and allow USPS to remove this manufactured debt from its books.”