Postal unions rebut red ink stories

Postal unions are pushing back against news stories that uncritically accept USPS management's story of financial losses across its massive delivery operations. Labor leaders are reminding lawmakers and the public that distorted accounting, impossible future retiree obligations and other congressionally-manufactured burdens leads to these false stories, all of which can be fixed only if the White House and lawmakers get together to pass pending reform legislation.


The U.S. Postal Service, in its annual report listed a hefty loss of billions of dollars—a sad bit of official news that’s become routine for years now. 

A loss of $4.9 billion, to be more precise. 

But in-the-know postal workers and the organizations that represent them are telling the American public—as they have for years—that these and other “red ink” stories don’t add up. They don't even begin to paint an accurate financial picture of USPS. 

Bottom line? Much of the so-called “loss” continues to be caused by unfair burdens and accounting conventions imposed on the nation’s only 100 percent, “last mile” delivery service.

“The Postal Service reported out its Fiscal Year 2021 financial and operational results at the public meeting of the Board of Governors on November 10, 2021,” the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the largest postal employee organization, said in a release rebutting management’s numbers. “Despite an increase of revenue of $3.9 billion, the Postal Service posted a net loss of $4.9 billion for 2021.” 

“While the losses continue to create headlines, two things have been made abundantly clear from the latest results,” APWU stated:

“First is that the public continues to rely on the universal network of the Postal Service to meet their needs to conduct business, send correspondence, vote and shop. The pandemic has underscored the vital role of postal workers in our communities and we continue to step up for the public.”

“Second,” the statement continued, “is the urgent need for Congress and the Biden Administration to address longstanding issues effecting the Postal Service’s balance sheet. Passing the bi-partisan supported Postal Service Reform Act as currently written, combined with Administrative action correcting faulty pension accounting, would eliminate nearly all of the Postal Service’s losses.” 

“Together, [accomplishing these changes] would alleviate the tremendous pressure placed on service, on postal workers and on the public and move the Postal Service closer to financial health,” the APWU concluded. “[L]awmakers and the Administration must act to ensure the long-term viability of our great national treasure."

Another major postal worker labor union, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), also spoke up, for reform and against the accuracy of the official accounting—specifying a big part of the calculation problem.

The figures released by USPS last week, the union said, "drives home the need for postal reform to address the artificial red ink caused by the 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS—alone among all U.S. companies and agencies—pre-fund future retiree benefits."

The National Postal Mail Handlers Union, another major employee organization, also has backed the legislation—and made the same point about the existing losses. That is, they are a legislative and accounting inevitability unless and until change comes. 

“For fifteen years, the United States Postal Service has been obligated to prefund its retiree healthcare costs at 100%,” NPMHU stated earlier this year. “This mandate resulted in the annual loss of $5 billion over a decade—and has been the primary cause of financial deficits since 2013.” 

LINK TO YELLOW HIGHLIGHT: https://www.21cpw.com/npmhu-president-issues-statement-endorsing-the-usps-fairness-act/

“Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic added to this financial instability,” NPMHU continued. “The USPS faced losses in revenue due to a drop in first class mail as well as increased costs associated with protecting the health and safety of the dedicated workforce during this global health crisis. But the pandemic also proved to Americans how it is necessary to support sustainable Postal Service.” 

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