APWU Burrus’s calls PAEA “colossal blunder”

American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus released a statement on Wednesday attributing the significant US Postal Service losses to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA).He, like many others attacks its provision for the pre-fund retiree healthcare benefits.

However, he also speaks out again mailer’s workshare discounts – claiming that if all mail processing functions to the APWU, the savings go to the US Postal Service and not the mailers.He claims the government agency could save a tenth of a cent per piece if it shifted the pre-sorting to the APWU.

When Burrus suggests eliminating workshare discounts all together  – calling them “subsidies for big business” – he misses the spirit in which they, along with the incentives like the summer sale, were introduced in the first place. Workshare discounts are meant to be linked to saving the postal service time and money or allowing for increased volumes, not just a break  for “big business.”

If the USPS is not seeing savings efficiencies or increased revenue as a result of the workshare, the discounts themselves should be restructured in a way that does support financial gain. But the fact is, that volumes are down across the board – and experiments like the Summer Sale – are one of the few ways that the postal service is seeing a bright light in terms of making up for its lost costs.

Burrus’s comments that the postal workers have already lost 40,000 jobs this year – while tragic, are missing the point. The   “who is suffering more?” debate he’s launched with the rest of the interest groups within the US Postal Service aren’t going to heal the problems of the postal service any faster. The reality is that volumes are in decline and that means that anyone relying on the USPS for a revenue stream, a weekly paycheck or a communication channel is going to suffer if the problem isn’t solved.

I’m eagerly awaiting the USPS’s results of the summer sale to see whether or not allowing mailers more incentives made an impact on the postal service’s bottom line. My only hope is that whatever additional action the agency takes to improve its financial outcome; it is based in a logic of supporting sustainability of all the stakeholders: postal workers, mailers and consumers alike.

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