The briefing’s three-member panel included APWU President Mark Dimondstein, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Associate Fellow Scott Klinger, and National Coalition on Black Civic Participation President and CEO Melanie Campbell. The panelists discussed the ongoing attacks on the public Postal Service, the public Postal Service’s importance to our country, and the legislative action needed to alleviate the financial burden mandated by the 2006 Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA).
President Dimondstein discussed how the mandate reduced service quality and harmed workers.
“Postal workers are extremely dedicated to their jobs, the mission and the public we serve,” Dimondstein said. “Yet behind the ‘defunding’ created by the PAEA and the resulting degrade of services, we have lost 200,000 jobs. We now have less career jobs and have seen implemented lower career wage rates, ever-increasing health insurance premiums, the stress of short staffing and more dangerous working conditions.”
Klinger, who co-authored IPS’s new report, “How Congress Manufactured a Postal Crisis – And How to Fix it,” discussed the uniquely disastrous prefunding mandate, a burden faced by no other public agency or private company.
“The [PAEA] had no basis in reality and no basis in accounting practice,” Klinger said. “It’s a lot like if you go to a bank and apply for a credit card, and them telling you, ‘okay, we’ll give you a credit card, but first you have to open up an account and put $500,000 into it because that’s what we figure you’re going to spend over the remaining years of your lifetime.’”
Campbell discussed the need to defend the Postal Service’s universal obligation to serve every community.
“A robbery is in process. The robbery that I speak of is the attempt, by this administration, to steal the people’s Postal Service,” Campbell said. “The U.S. Postal Service belongs to the American people, and it has served all communities – rural, small towns, urban, and suburban – since 1775.”
Campbell also discussed how the USPS has provided a pathway to the middle class for African-American workers.
In closing remarks, Dimondstein argued that the most important step to take is passing of H.R. 2382, the USPS Fairness Act, to fully repeal the prefunding mandate. “There is so much more that we can do. And to do it, we need to have the financial manufactured crisis fixed,” he said.