WASHINGTON –The U.S. House of Representatives last night approved legislation sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, and Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) that would extend to the nation’s postmasters an option currently enjoyed by postal supervisors in negotiating with the U.S. Postal Service. The Postmasters Equity Act of 2003 (S. 678) would give postmasters the option of using a fact-finding process during consultation with the U.S. Postal Service. The bill also defines the term postmaster for the first time.
In 1970, the Postal Reorganization Act created a consultative process for postmasters and other non-union postal employees to negotiate pay and benefits. While postmasters and postal supervisors use the same negotiating process, postal supervisors also have a fact-finding process that allows for an unbiased review of the issues in dispute and the issuance of non-binding recommendations. Without this process, postmasters lack any form of recourse when consultation fails.
“An improved consultation process for the postmasters is long overdue. We in Congress need to do all we can to support the work postmasters do in the 38,000 post offices around the country,” said Collins. “In rural communities especially, postmasters are often the heart and soul of a community.”
“I am delighted to have worked with Senator Collins and our colleagues in the House to pass the Postmasters Equity Act. Passage of S. 678 is welcome news for the nation’s 27,000 postmasters who are accountable for postal operations and services, including retail postal operations and community relations in individual post offices,” said Akaka.
Passage of the legislation also coincided with a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing today that focused on a report from the Presidential Commission on the U.S. Postal Service, which examined the agency’s operations and requirements.
The bill now heads to the President’s desk.