Dec. 6, 2005 – Current and former US Postal Service employees are picketing in four Missouri cities today to protest Senator Kit Bondâ€™s (R-Missouri) decision to prevent a vote on a bill changing the way the USPS handles pension and health benefits for retired workers. The informational pickets are taking place between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and the state capitol, Jefferson City.
The postal workers union National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) also contends that the upcoming increase in stamp prices and other rate hikes could have been avoided had the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act been passed into law. Instead, Bond is holding up the bill until an amendment he offered is accepted.
Bond opted to prevent the bill from going to a floor vote by using an obscure Senate rule and has stated that he will not release the bill until a "fair and equitable" compromise over rate challenges can be brokered, reports GovExec.com, a publication focused on the federal government. He offered an amendment to the Senate bill which would facilitate such challenges, but has been unable to gain support for the measure.
Postal-worker groups and officials with the USPS oppose Bondâ€™s amendment. In a statement yesterday and in a letter to members last month, the union charged that Bondâ€™s amendment is designed to protect Hallmark, which is based in Missouri. The union contends that the reforms called for under the Senate bill are necessary for members and the general public.
"Postal reform is the NALCâ€™s most important goal in 2005 because the right changes can ensure the USPS will thrive and provide good letter-carrier jobs for decades to come," the union said in a statement yesterday. "The wrong sort of changes could lead to the destruction of the Service, which is the linchpin of the $900 billion-a-year mailing industry that creates 9 million jobs."
In a letter to Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) last month, USPS vice president for government relations Thomas G. Day warned that Bondâ€™s amendment "subverts the entire reform bill." Additionally, Day wrote that the proposed provision, "attempts to benefit some mailers at the expense of the entire postal system and its future economic viability."
The House of Representatives passed a companion bill to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act in July. That bill contains a provision similar to Bondâ€™s proposed amendment, but Collins and others are reportedly working to strip the language from the bill.