At the end of a lengthy analysis of the prospects for postal legislation yesterday, long-time postal union leader William Burrus made a statement that could signal a change in strategy on five-day delivery:
"His [President Obama's] proposal includes 5 day delivery which is strongly opposed by the unions but the decision must be made on which fights to engage in and with whom. Do we fight the Republican efforts to destroy the Postal Service and the unions or do we fight the Obama inclusion of 5 day delivery. This is a legislative and executive decision but it is time to decide and serious consideration must be given to the results if you don't prevail. In American Politics you can be right and lose."
Burrus has retired from the presidency of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) but still has plenty of connections in and knowledge of Washington's ways. Dead Tree Edition has questioned his rhetoric and math at times (See Mathematically Challenged: Burrus Proposal Doesn’t Add Up for USPS and The Reinterpretation of William Burrus) but not his political savvy or inside information.
Burrus' statement suggests that the prospects are slim for getting the Obama Administration to change its mind on preserving Saturday delivery. Without an Obama push to counter the mostly anti-union Republicans, a labor-supported position has little hope for success these days.
Burrus seems to be suggesting that the postal unions save their powder for a more important and more winnable fights. Tops on the list is stopping the Issa/Ross bill that would put the U.S. Postal Service into something resembling Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization and potentially tear up the union contracts. Related battles are ending USPS's subsidies of the federal government that have pushed it to the verge of insolvency and opposing postal management's request to void the no-layoff clauses in union contracts.
Update: Burrus took offense at suggestions he may be "throwing in the towel" on preserving six-day delivery -- Burrus Responds: Not Giving Up on 6-Day Delivery.
Other articles on Obama's Postal Service proposals: