The tug-of-war over the U.S. Postal Service’s very uncertain future hits the nation’s airwaves today with the kickoff of an American Postal Workers Union ad campaign that will run on national cable channels for up to two months.
Contrary to what you might expect, given how testy the debate is becoming, the 30-second spot doesn’t bash anyone. Instead, it highlights the fact that the Postal Service generally operates without taxpayer support. While APWU members move millions of pounds of mail each day, the ad says, their work is “funded solely by stamps and postage.”
So what’s the point? In a release, APWU President Cliff Guffey describes a two-fold purpose. One is to help the union sign up new members, starting with an “organizing week” later this month. The other is to build support for congressional legislation that would let the Postal Service reclaim tens of billions of pension overpayments identified by the agency’s inspector general and an outside actuarial firm hired by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
The ad will run for one week on Fox, and about two months on CNN and MSNBC. In an email, APWU spokeswoman Sally Davidow declined to say how much the campaign is costing, but described it as “a substantial buy.” This isn’t the first time, incidentally, that the union—one of four that represents postal workers—has taken this approach. Most recently, Davidow said, the APWU ran ads in 2006 opposing the consolidation of some mail processing facilities.