Postal Reorganization Act

On March 12, 1970, after extensive hearings, the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee reported a compromise measure containing provisions similar to the commission proposals endorsed by President Nixon. The bill included a 5.4 percent retroactive pay raise and a system that would allow employees to reach the top of their pay grade in 8 rather than 21 years. Postal employees called it too little, too late.

On March 18, a work stoppage began. It ultimately involved 152,000 postal employees in 671 locations. The President ordered the Army to deliver the mail, and the unions asked Labor Secretary George Shultz to intervene. Postmaster General Winton M. Blount agreed to negotiate when the employees returned to work. They did, and negotiations began March 25. Eight days later, the negotiating parties recommended a general wage increase of six percent, retroactive to December 27, 1969, for all federal employees. Postal workers would get an additional eight percent increase if there was agreement on, and enactment of, legislation reorganizing the Post Office Department.

On April 16, 1970, after continuing negotiations, the Department and union leaders announced agreement on a reorganization plan, which was embodied in a legislative proposal and sent to Congress by President Nixon. The plan included four provisions that Postmaster General Blount saw as necessary: adequate financing authority, removal of the system from politics to assure continuity of management, collective bargaining, and setting of rates by the Postal Service after an opportunity for hearings before an impartial rate panel. In addition to the eight percent pay increase, the bill provided for negotiation of a new wage schedule permitting employees to reach the top of their pay grade in eight years.

On August 3, 1970, by a vote of 57 to 7, the Senate approved the conference report on House Resolution 17070, a modified version of the legislation proposed by the President. Three days later, the House of Representatives approved it. On August 12, 1970, President Nixon signed into law the most comprehensive postal legislation since the founding of the Republic, Public Law 91-375, the Postal Reorganization Act. n