In an attempt to stem its financial hemorrhaging, the U.S. Postal Service is seeking to reduce its workforce by 20 percent, including through layoffs now prohibited by union contracts
. USPS also wants to withdraw its employees from the health and retirement plans
that cover federal staffers and create its own benefit programs for postal employees.
This major restructuring of the Postal Service’s relationship with its workforce would need congressional approval and would face fierce opposition from postal unions. But if approved, eliminating contract provisions that prevent layoffs and quitting the federal employee health and retirement programs could have ramifications for workers across the government and throughout the national’s labor movement
In a notice to employees informing them of its proposals, with the headline “Financial crisis calls for significant actions,” the Postal Service said “we will be insolvent next month due to significant declines in mail volume and retiree health benefit prefunding costs imposed by Congress.”
The Postal Service plan is described in two draft documents obtained by The Washington Post. A “Workforce Optimization” paper acknowledges “that asking Congress to eliminate the layoff protections in our collective bargaining agreements is an extraordinary request by the Postal Service, and we do not make this request lightly. However, exceptional circumstances require exceptional remedies.
“The Postal Service is facing dire economic challenges that threaten its very existence. . . . If the Postal Service was a private sector business, it would have filed for bankruptcy and utilized the reorganization process to restructure its labor agreements to reflect the new financial reality.”