NALC: Tell Congress: Don’t cut letter carrier jobs and pay
December 9, 2013
Right now, Congress is considering a budget deal that could both threaten the future of the U.S. Postal Service by ending Saturday delivery and cutting letter carriers’ pay by increasing pension contributions.
Use this form (click on above link) to tell your member of Congress that the American economy and the USPS are growing.
Click here [pdf] to read NALC President Fred Rolando’s December 9, 2013 letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Americans depend on a strong USPS.
The USPS is under attack, again. - UniteBlue.org
December 9, 2013
The United States Postal Service is under attack, again. Right this moment the budget conference committee that was formed to end the government shutdown is considering cutting Saturday and door delivery. If both services are slashed over 100,000 good union jobs would be eliminated. We fought this once before and won, let’s do it again.
The United States Postal Service’s financial crisis has been entirely manufactured. The truth is the USPS isn’t broke, it’s being robbed by House Republicans. The House GOP forced a law requiring the USPS to set aside 75 years of retiree benefits in just 10 years. They have to pay for pensions of workers who haven’t even been born. Is that how you run your business?
Make no mistake, this is a targeted attack on one of the strongest unions in the country. UPS and FedEx are both members of ALEC and major campaign contributors to House Republicans. Their plan is to kill USPS and privatize the entire mail industry.
It’s time to fight back. Below are the 29 members of the bipartisan budget conference committee. Please take a moment to Tweet them right now.
Rep. @TomColeOK04 (OK)
Rep. James @Clyburn (SC)
Rep. @ChrisVanHollen (MD)
Rep. @NitaLowey (NY)
Sen. @ChuckGrassley (IA)
Sen. @MikeCrapo (ID)
Sen. Lindsey @GrahamBlog (SC)
Sen. @RobPortman (OH)
Sen. @KellyAyotte (NH)
Sen. @PattyMurray (WA)
Sen. @RonWyden (OR)
Sen. Debbie @Stabenow (MI)
Sen. @MarkWarner (VA)
Sen. @ChrisCoons (DE)
Sen. @TimKaine (VA)
Royal Mail agrees to 9 pct staff pay rise over three years - WorldBulletin.net
Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said last week an agreement had been reached in principle on pay, pensions and working conditions.
December 9, 2013
Britain's newly privatised Royal Mail said on Monday it had agreed with union members to a 9.06 percent staff pay rise over the next three years.
Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents the majority of the postal firm's staff, said last week an agreement had been reached in principle on pay, pensions and working conditions, averting the risk of a strike taking place over the busy Christmas period.
The union rejected an 8.6 percent pay increase over three years and a lump sum payment of 300 pounds in July.
The newly agreed pay hike includes a 3.0 percent pay rise in 2013/14 backdated to April 2013, the same rise in 2014/15, and a 2.8 percent rise subject to inflation in 2015/16.
The 139,000 staff will also receive a 200 pound lump sum payment in December, a new employee incentive scheme, legal protection on workers terms and conditions, and higher pension contributions from Royal Mail.
The firm said the new agreement would not change its financial outlook.
The threat of industrial action formed part of the backdrop to Britain's high-profile privatisation of Royal Mail, much opposed by the CWU but sealed in October when the government sold a 60 percent stake and handed 10 percent to staff.
Shares in Royal Mail have since rocketed more than 80 percent above its 330 pence offer price, prompting debate over whether it was sold off too cheaply.
Shares in the firm, which is set to move into Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 on Wednesday, were up 0.4 percent to 569.5 pence at 1515 GMT.
Budget Talks Target One Year Deal as Lawmakers Protest - Bloomberg.com
December 5, 2013
“We are making a very clear statement that we cannot, cannot support a budget agreement that does not include unemployment insurance in the budget or as a sidebar,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
House Democratic leaders today held a news conference expressing concern that their priorities, including ending corporate tax breaks and infrastructure investments, were being left out of the discussions.
Ryan has previously shared with Republican lawmakers ideas including increased premiums for pension plans backed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and a cut in Medicaid payments to hospitals. Lawmakers including Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, have floated a proposal to push some spending cuts into future years.
Another option being discussed is giving the U.S. Postal Service flexibility to reduce costs, according to an aide close to the talks, most notably by ending Saturday mail delivery.
Cuts to workers’ compensation and retirement for federal employees are unacceptable as part of a deal that wouldn’t end all of the automatic cuts, said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.
“Enough is enough,” she said today on a conference call with reporters. “Their workloads have increased because of hiring freezes and they just went through a morale-killing 16-day shutdown.”
The two House Democrats who would round up votes for a compromise, Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat, and Van Hollen, represent Maryland districts that include many federal workers.
“I vehemently oppose efforts to target and single out these hardworking, middle-class Americans who play a critical role in maintaining the safety, security, and well-being of our nation,” Hoyer said today in a statement.
APWU e-Team News Update [pdf]
December 6, 2013
24 national posts to establish global e-commerce delivery network - PostAndParcel.info
December 6, 2013
A group of 24 postal companies from around the world have launched a new programme that aims to establish a fully interconnected network for shipping e-commerce products across borders. The programme was agreed by members of the International Post Corporation at a meeting of their chief executives in Washington last month.
The IPC membership comprises some of the biggest national postal services in the world, including the US Postal Service, Deutsche Post, Poste Italiane, Royal Mail and La Poste Group. It also includes the national postal services of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The IPC revealed this week that the new IPC e-Commerce Interconnect Programme will offer a global shipping platform with full track and trace capabilities offering end-to-end visibility to retailers and consumers alike. The platform will provide retailers with a choice of end-to-end delivery times and features, and a cross-border returns solution allowing consumers to ship unwanted items back.
The IPC, a Brussels-based group of cooperating postal companies, said ultimately the project aims to provide consumers with the same kind of shopping and delivery experience when buying online from retailers in other countries as they would expect when buying from domestic retailers. ....
Ex-HR Chiefs: Some Federal Managers Just Can’t Manage - GovExec.com
December 5, 2013
The government should rethink how it evaluates and rewards federal workers, in part to help improve the reputation of civil servants among lawmakers and the public, former executive branch officials said on Thursday.
“There is still a lot of phoniness in the appraisal systems” agencies use to evaluate employees’ job performance, said Constance Berry Newman, director of the Office of Personnel Management during the George H.W. Bush administration, at a panel discussion in Washington with two other former OPM chiefs. Supervisors and managers “should be marked down when they are not properly appraising their staffs,” Newman said.
The current process isn’t working, and it’s undermining confidence in government, said Newman, who is now special counsel for African affairs at The Carmen Group. “What happens is, you get a tough evaluator, and then all the people working for that evaluator are in a worse position when they compete with those who have weak evaluators, and then there is this pressure for everybody to dumb the whole system down.” Performance, Newman said, has “a great influence” on how the public and Congress regard government. “A lot of it is unfair reporting,” by the media, she added, “but some of it is fair reporting.”
Part of the problem is that some managers simply are not good at their jobs, largely because of the government’s antiquated system of promoting employees based on seniority, said former Clinton OPM Director Janice Lachance. “Some people just stink at being supervisors,” said Lachance, now CEO of the Special Libraries Association. “Yet it’s the only way to reward them for their expertise, for their experience, for their contribution. That’s just a crazy rule. How can we start getting rid of that?”
The comments from Newman and Lachance came during a relatively frank discussion on federal workforce issues, including pay-for-performance, recruitment strategies and agencies’ budget constraints, as well as OPM’s relationship with the rest of government, including Congress and the White House. The Coalition for Effective Change, a group of federal employee and good-government advocates, hosted Thursday’s event. ....
Fifth Circuit Rejects NLRB Ruling Invaliding Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements - JDSupra.com
December 5, 2013
On December 3, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) ruling that an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by requiring employees to waive their rights to pursue class or collective actions as part of an employment arbitration agreement.
In 2008, former D.R. Horton employee Michael Cuda sought to initiate a nationwide class arbitration, alleging that D.R. Horton was misclassifying its superintendents as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime pay requirements. Beginning in 2006, D.R. Horton required all employees to sign a Mutual Arbitration Agreement (MAA) as a condition of employment. The MAA included a provision that all employment-related disputes must be resolved through individual arbitration, waiving employee rights to pursue class or collective actions through either a judicial or arbitral forum. Thus, D.R. Horton rejected the arbitration demand, arguing that the MAA barred arbitration of collective claims. Mr. Cuda then filed an unfair labor practice charge, alleging that the class action waiver violated the NLRA.
The NLRB ruled that the MAA unlawfully infringed upon employees’ substantive rights under Section 7 of the NLRA to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection with respect to terms and conditions of employment. D.R. Horton appealed the decision.
In a much-anticipated decision, the Fifth Circuit disagreed with the NLRB’s conclusion. Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in CompuCredit v. Greenwood, the Fifth Circuit found that the NLRA does not create a congressional command that overrides the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). It found nothing in the NLRA’s text or legislative history evidencing a congressional intent to disavow arbitration. It also found no inherent conflict between the FAA and the NLRA’s purpose.
The Fifth Circuit therefore concluded that under AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the MAA’s class action waiver must be enforced according to its terms. The court was impressed that every other circuit to consider the application of the NLRB's opinion to a class action waiver in an arbitration agreement has rejected that argument and found such waivers enforceable. In dissent, Judge James E. Graves, Jr., wrote that he would affirm the NLRB's opinion, thus insuring that the debate over the NLRB's D.R. Horton decision will continue.
The court did, however, agree with the NLRB’s finding that D.R. Horton violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (4) of the NLRA because the MAA could be read by a reasonable employee as prohibiting the filing of a charge with the NLRB. A list of exclusions in the MAA did not expressly mention unfair labor practice claims under the NLRA.
Interestingly, the court declined to weigh in on the constitutionality of President Obama's recess appointments to the NLRB, leaving that issue to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in the pending Noel Canning case.
Sen. Baldwin says bulk mailing rate amendment will help printing firms - BizJournals.com
December 4, 2013
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is championing an amendment to the postal reform bill that would curb large increases in postal rates for bulk mailers.
Baldwin visited Quad/Graphics in Sussex Wednesday morning and spoke with Milwaukee Business Journal reporters and editors Tuesday to talk about the impact of the amendment on Wisconsin’s economy. She outlined how the amendment would give postal customers “pricing predictability” and benefit forestry, paper and printing companies throughout the state like Quad/Graphics.
This is a good read and in my opinion captures the essence of our current struggle with the Congressionally manufactured USPS fiscal crisis. - RZ
Keeping Postage Public - Jacobinmag.com
November 29, 2013
"The PAEA mandates that over the course of just 10 years, the USPS must pre-fund healthcare benefits for the next 75 years of retirees. That means diverting $5.5 billion annually to a fund set aside for future retirees — workers who haven’t even been hired yet. And this on top of the normal cost of covering current employees and retirees. No other entity, public or private, is required to do this. Worse, the USPS might be overpaying: the PAEA calculates future liabilities based on the assumption that the rate of health care cost inflation will average around 7 percent, whereas the actuary industry standard is closer to 5 percent.
This pre-funding mandate is the principal reason the USPS is in the precarious position it’s in today. Without it, the postal service would be comfortably out of the red, even turning an operational profit.
It’s worth remembering how the USPS as we know it today came to be: the Postal Service is one of the few government agencies explicitly enshrined by the Constitution, but in 1970 it was transformed after one of the biggest wildcat strikes in American history. The walkoff dealt with a number of grievances: from low wages and almost non-existent benefits, to unhealthy and unsafe working conditions, to being denied the right to collectively bargain, to the unfair treatment of black workers. In the spring of 1970, members of the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 36 in Manhattan struck without authorization from union officials. The strike spontaneously spread all over the country, inspiring more and more workers to join. The mail delivery system came to a screeching halt, causing the stock market to fall and prompting Nixon to call in the National Guard and declare a national state of emergency.
The result? The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, codifying fair wages and working conditions, anti-discrimination measures, and the right for workers to collectively bargain. It also established what we recognize now as the defining features of the USPS: “the obligation to provide postal services that bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people” and to “provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and… all communities.”
Since then, of course, labor’s fate has declined precipitously. Such massive work stoppages have all but disappeared, and the bargaining power of public sector unions and organized labor generally has eroded."
Why increasing feds' retirement contributions may not help cut the deficit - FederalNewsRadio.com
December 2, 2013
Requiring federal employees to contribute more of their salary toward retirement is rumored to be among the proposals being considered by the House-Senate budget conference committee as an partial alternative to the sequestration budget cuts.
The proposal, which the Congressional Budget Office has concluded would bring in nearly $20 billion in increased federal revenues over 10 years, has drawn criticism from federal-employee unions.
But at least one think tank, known for its hawkish stance on reducing the deficit, says the proposal could end up not saving the government a dime.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says increasing federal employees' retirement contributions would be a "sensible reform that could improve the fiscal situation," according to a post on the committee's website. "But there is a risk that policymakers would double-count the saving, in which case such reform would actually increase the deficit," the group argues. ....
Will budget committee target feds' retirement contributions? - FederalNewsRadio.com
November 29, 2013
...The AP reported last week the committee's most likely path toward a deal is focusing on smaller-bore deficit trims recycled from the 2011 supercommittee, including a proposal requiring federal employees to contribute more toward their pensions.
The Hill also reported last week that the committee was bandying about the idea of upping federal workers' pension contributions.
The Congressional Budget Office concluded, in a report published earlier this month, that requiring workers hired before 2013 to contribute an additional 1.2 percent of their salaries toward their retirements — for a total of 2.9 percent — would increase federal revenues by more than $19 billion over 10 years. That's identical to a plan recommended by President Barack Obama in his 2014 budget proposal
Ryan, however, has pushed for more drastic increases, calling for federal employees to contribute 5.5 percent more toward their retirement, which, he contends, would net savings of $132 billion over the next decade.
All told, in its report earlier this month, CBO estimated Congress could save as much as $300 billion by making changes to federal employee pay and benefits, including $53 billion by reducing annual civilian pay increases and $43 billion by reducing the size of the federal workforce through attrition.
But federal employee unions and sympathetic lawmakers argue that — after across-the-board budget cuts, widespread furloughs, a government shutdown and a three-year pay freeze — federal employees have sacrificed enough.
"Our public servants have sacrificed enough and we ask that you take this into consideration in your discussions as you search for a path forward on the budget," Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) wrote in a Nov. 21 letter to the conferees. "The budget should not be about cutting the pay and retirement and healthcare benefits of middle-income workers." ....
USPS OIG Semiannual Report to Congress - April 1 — September 30, 2013 - USPSOIG.gov [pdf]
December 2, 2013
The U.S. Postal Service has had an impressive track record of success in the face of competing technologies, such as the telegraph, telephone, and computers. Successive predictions of the Postal Service’s demise were greatly exaggerated, to borrow a phrase. But the digital revolution, with its smart devices, and social networking, has proven to be an especially challenging period. Creative destruction is weakening many of the nation’s business sectors and public infrastructures.
While the digital age has ushered in major changes in communications, the Postal Service’s mission to bind the nation together has remained largely unchanged. It is past time to provide the Postal Service the tools it must have to adapt its business model for a new era of communications while retaining the valuable infrastructure that serves American citizens and commerce.
Likewise, the Office of Inspector General’s commitment to integrity, accountability, and transparency remains steady even as the tools we use to achieve our goals continually evolve. Collaboration, data analytics, and modeling have enhanced our work, helping us to focus on high-risk, high-value work. We can now proactively pursue risks and work the best cases in a shorter period of time. We are collaborating with the Postal Service to model data across program areas for more timely, relevant, and actionable products.
The Semiannual Report to Congress, for the reporting period of April 1 through September 30, 2013, features overviews of our key audit and investigative work in the period, as well as special reports and white papers.
The appendices provide detailed information on audit reports and their recommendations, investigative cases pursued in the period, and monetary impacts of our work. In this reporting period, we issued 114 reports, including audit reports and management advisories, which resulted in about $13.5 billion in monetary impact. We completed 2,143 investigations that led to 332 arrests and nearly $80 million in fines, restitutions, and recoveries, of which $74 million went to the Postal Service.
I look forward to working with the Governors, Congress, and Postal Service management as we address the challenges ahead. With the support of these groups, the OIG will continue to play a key role in maintaining the integrity and accountability of America’s postal service, its revenue and assets, and its employees through our audit and investigative work.
David C. Williams
There certainly are very important postal reform legislation efforts ahead of us and we will need to continue to lobby our Congressmen and the public to support us but this is also a very important piece of legislation that I would like to see APWU, as well as the other postal unions and public at large, get behind. We, as a union and as a country, must never forget these Anthrax work place attacks on our brothers and sisters. We must also continue to fight postal management for our rights to adequate safety measures and responses to such attacks that may occur in the future (unlike what happened in 2001). - RZ
H.Res. 390 - GovTrack.us
Honoring the lives, work, and sacrifice of Joseph Curseen, Jr., and Thomas Morris, Jr., the two United States Postal ...
... Service employees and Washington, DC, natives who died as a result of their contact with anthrax while working at the United States Postal Facility located at 900 Brentwood Road, NE, Washington, DC, during the anthrax attack in the fall of 2001, United States Postal Service employees, who have continued to work diligently in service to the people of the United States notwithstanding the anthrax attacks, as well as the three other Americans who died and the 17 who became ill in the attacks.
Introduced: Oct 23, 2013
Sponsor: Del. Eleanor Norton [D-DC0]
Status: Referred to Committee
The Nation Blames Republicans Because It Can’t Pay its Postal Bill - FrontPageMag.com
November 24, 2013
The Nation magazine’s continued existence is proof that capitalism works. Not because it’s capitalist, but because it’s a pathetic failure, meandering along year after year, mostly unread, constantly begging for money, always unable to pay its bills, despite its wealthy owners.
But it’s the fault of the Republicans.
The Nation is facing a crippling hike in postal fees that’s going to cost $120,272 that we simply do not have.
When House Republicans aren’t shutting down the government, they’re trying to gut funding for essential programs and services. Legislators like Congressman Darrel Issa and other conservatives helped force the Post Office into requesting an emergency rate hike — one that will cost The Nation an additional $120,272 every year.
Postal rates go up because it costs money to deliver things, like dead tree print magazines full of crazy lies, that exist only for the social status of the granddaughter of the founders of MCA.
If only it wasn’t for the Republicans, I’m sure that the postal workers, like the Nation’s interns, would be happy to work for free. But wait… in a stunning counterrevolutionary move, the interns also wanted to be paid. ....
Legislation Would Provide Pay Parity for Hourly and Salaried Federal Employees - FedSmith.com
November 22, 2013
Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) has introduced legislation that would ensure that the percentage increase in rates of basic pay for Wage Grade (WG), or hourly, employees is equivalent to the percentage increase received by other federal employees in the same pay locality.
According to a statement from Cartwright’s office, the President was able to provide a 1% COLA for General Schedule (GS), or salaried, federal employees this year, however, he does not have the statutory authority to provide the same COLA to all federal workers. Beginning January 1, 2014, WG employee’s wages will stay the same or even decrease thus creating a greater disparity between the wages of WG employees and GS employees.
Cartwright thinks this is wrong. “The inconsistency in wages between WG and GS employees is inequitable. It hurts a group of Americans that can least afford a fourth year with no increase at all. For this reason, I am proud to introduce this legislation which would benefit a group that has been particularly impacted by a four year pay freeze, the recent Defense furloughs and the government shutdown.”
The Support the Wage Grade Employee Parity Act as the bill is known (H.R. 3573), is similar in nature to legislation that Cartwright introduced back in June that, to date, has not advanced in the House.
Pre-funding mandate masks USPS ’13 profit - TheStand.org
November 20, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Postal Service on Friday announced its year-end results for Fiscal Year 2013, citing a loss of $5 billion. Two major postal unions were the first to point out that the Postal Service actually made a profit on its operations.
“Headlines across the country are shouting that the USPS lost billions of dollars again this year, but that’s a fallacy,” said American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein. “If it weren’t for the congressional mandate to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees, the USPS would have shown a surplus of $600 million.” ....
Postal Reform Encounters Another Major Setback - GovExec.com
November 19, 2013
Legislation to overhaul the Postal Service has hit yet another roadblock, with the agency’s oversight committee once again delaying its markup of the reform bill.
The markup -- which gives Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee members an opportunity to offer and vote on amendments to the bill, and ultimately decide whether to move it to the full Senate -- was originally scheduled for Nov. 6, but was delayed indefinitely due to a lack of support from Democrats. Aides said the committee would vote on the bill -- the 2013 Postal Reform Act -- before Thanksgiving, and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., rescheduled a markup for Wednesday. But Carper, who introduced the reform measure along with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., was forced once again to push back his timetable as he still failed to muster enough backing.
Carper and Coburn will now work on a new bill, which they will offer in the form of a substitute amendment to the original bill, according to a committee aide. The chairman and ranking member will reschedule a markup after the Senate returns from the Thanksgiving recess.
The aide said the amendment would address “concerns raised by members of the committee and stakeholder groups.” ....
Bill would end pensions for new feds - FederalTimes.com
November 18, 2013
Newly hired federal employees would not be eligible for traditional pensions under a bill reintroduced last week by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and two colleagues.
The measure, which would also apply to new members of Congress, would end the defined benefit portion of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) for employees who come on board starting six months after it is signed into law, according to a news release from Burr’s office.
New federal employees could still participate in the Thrift Savings Plan,the federal government’s equivalent of a 401(k)-type program under which agencies match employees’ contributions up to 5 percent of their salaries.
“Right now, federal government workers receive far more generous retirement benefits than private-sector employees,” Burr said in the release. For taxpayers, he added, the cost is “unsustainable.”
Current federal workers and retirees would not be affected.
Co-sponsoring the bill are Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. A similar measure introduced by Burr in 2011 never got out of a Senate committee.
But pressure on the status quo is coming from other quarters. U.S. Postal Service leaders, for example, would like to end FERS defined benefit pensions for new employees; a Senate bill introduced in August would give the mail carrier the green light to bargain over the issue with its unions.
On a separate track, the Obama administration has proposed phasing in a 1.2 percent increase in workers’ share of contributions to both FERS and the Civil Service Retirement System over three years.
For FERS participants, the proposed change would boost their share of contributions from 0.8 percent of salary to 2 percent, while CSRS employees would pay 8.2 percent, compared to 7 percent today.
APWU e-Team Report, Nov. 18, 2013
◾ New Legislative & Political Director Marcotte Set on Mobilizing APWU Members for Legislative Victory
◾ Dimondstein Vows to Broaden Support for Protecting Postal Service, Postal Jobs
◾ Facing Opposition to Harmful Postal Bill, Committee Cancels Another Mark-up
◾ The Bigger the Team, The Stronger We Are
◾ E-Team Homework: Who is Hurt by Slowed Mail in your Community?
Congress still hates the U.S. Postal Service - LATimes.com
November 18, 2013
...But the bigger problem is the enduring hostility to the USPS shown by many conservatives in Congress. It's because of them that the USPS has maxed out its statutory borrowing authority and faces an annual payment of $5.5 billion into a health fund for its future retirees. The service defaulted on that obligation last year and this year, but it shows up as a liability on its balance sheet and destroys its financial flexibility.
In real terms it's an obnoxious fiction imposed by a cynical Congress in 2006. Barring the unnecessary healthcare payments, the postal service's deficit would be manageable -- $5 billion is a bit more than one-tenth of 1% of the federal budget.
We examined the reasons for this congressional hostility last year. As we wrote at the time: "What could explain conservative hostility toward the U.S. Postal Service? After all, most members of Congress, Republican or Democrat, will defend to the death the smallest one-room post office in their district.
"But what about the characteristics of the workforce? It's heavily and effectively unionized, for one thing. For another, over a long period, the post office has been a reliable steppingstone to the middle class for African American families. (Black workers make up about 11% of the USPS payroll, about twice their representation in the overall workforce.) Maybe some people just think these workers are expendable." ....
U.S. government corruption - BrainerdDispatch.com
November 17, 2013
The U.S. government has entered into a contract with a real estate firm to sell 56 buildings that currently house U.S. Post Offices.
The government has decided it no longer needs these buildings, most of which are located on prime land in towns and cities across the country. The sale of these properties will fetch about $19 billion.
A regular real estate commission will be paid to the company that was given the exclusive listing for handling the sales. That company is CBRE Group and it belongs to a man named Richard Blum (Blum has an interest in the CBRE Group, which won a competitive contract to sell postal facilities. He is its board chairman and owns an investment firm that holds less than 5 percent of its stock.)
Blum is the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Sen. Feinstein and her husband stand to make a fortune (estimated at between $950 million and $1.1 billion!) from these transactions. His company (CRI) is the sole real estate on the sale. CRI will be making a minimum of 3 percent and as much as 6 percent commission on each sale. “In 2011, the CB Richard Ellis Group, (now CBRE Group, Inc.), the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, was awarded an exclusive contract to market USPC facilities, which CBRE touted by announcing: “Historically, USPS has worked with multiple real estate service providers. ....
APWU Web News Article #127-13, Nov. 15, 2013
APWU President Dimondstein: ‘Don’t Believe the Type’
“Headlines across the country are shouting that the USPS lost billions of dollars again this year, but that’s a fallacy,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said after the USPS released financial information for fiscal year 2013.
“If it weren’t for the congressional mandate to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees, the USPS would have shown a surplus of $600 million.” No other government agency or private company is required to make such payments, which cost the agency approximately $5.5 billion annually.
“The USPS is suffering from a manufactured crisis,” Dimondstein said. “But the fallout of the artificial crisis is real. Service has declined dramatically — mail takes days longer to arrive, carriers are delivering mail in the dark, lines at post offices are out the door – and good, union postal jobs are disappearing,” he said.
“The solution is clear: Congress must repeal the pre-funding mandate and allow the Postal Service to develop new services that will provide new revenue,” the union president said.
The recent USPS agreement to deliver Amazon’s packages on Sundays is a good example, Dimondstein said, but the Postal Service must do more.
“The USPS should offer basic banking service to the millions of Americans who want a non-profit alternative to the big banks or who don’t have bank accounts at all,” he said. “This would give the working poor an alternative to the legal loan-sharking they are now victimized by. It also would provide another source of revenue. The Postal Service also should offer notary services and licensing.” There are many other examples, he said.
“Unfortunately, there are some in Congress who want the Postal Service to fail. They are eager to privatize it,” Dimondstein.
But the American people don’t agree. Dimondstein is calling for a “grand alliance” to save the USPS as a public postal service and to protect postal jobs.
Related: NALC: USPS made $600 million delivering mail in 2013
Senators Propose to End Defined Benefit Pensions for New Federal Employees - FedSmith.com
November 13, 2013
Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) have reintroduced legislation that would end the defined benefit pension portion of the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) for new federal government hires starting six months after enactment. Current federal government employees and retirees would not be impacted by the changes.
Known as the Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act, the Senators say the legislation is necessary to cut costs that have become unsustainable.
The bill would leave the Thrift Savings Plan fully in place with the current match (up to 5%) for both current and future federal workers. The cuts it makes would also apply to members of Congress. ....
Congress Wasn't Going to Save the Postal Service Anytime Soon - GovExec.com
November 13, 2013
"Help could come only from Congress, which outlines what the Postal Service can and can't do. "There's not a lot of people in the private sector that want to get into our kind of business with those kinds of requirements," U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told The Wall Street Journal in September. "So we need Congress to act."
But as we learned this week, that's not the case. The Postal Service announced Monday that it began delivering Amazon.com packages to residential addresses in Los Angeles and the New York metropolitan area and would eventually expand the service to other cities. The agency already delivers some priority mail on Sundays, as well as packages during peak holiday season in cities in December.
So the help the agency sought to pinch pennies and turn a profit didn't come from the Hill. It came from a private company with a growing knack for rescuing operations in precarious financial situations, one thatThe Washington Post's Lydia DePillis says may as well buy the entire mail service."
"Brennan said she did not know who approached whom about negotiating the Amazon-USPS partnership, which "began months ago" and was "collaborative." The U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission filed the agreement in early October.
The Postal Service said Monday it considered the new partnership a win-win. Congress, it seems, isn't even in the game."
Why Is Amazon (AMZN) Deal With US Postal Service Sealed? - IBTimes.com
November 11, 2013
The U.S. Postal Service's deal with online retail giant Amazon for Sunday deliveries raised eyebrows on Monday, in part because both parties declined to disclose the financial terms of the arrangement.
Under terms of a contract between Amazon and the USPS, postal workers on Sunday began delivering items at no extra charge to residential addresses of Amazon customers in the New York City and Los Angeles areas, with plans to expand the program to other cities next year.
Amazon and the USPS agreed to the terms in October, but details -- including how much Amazon is paying for the arrangement -- are sealed, Sue Brennan, a USPS spokeswoman, told International Business Times in an email. She explained that the USPS is not permitted to disclose terms of the deal without permission from the Postal Regulatory Commission, adding that the postal service has not made such a request to the commission. The PRC did not immediately respond to questions about when it will disclose the terms of the Sunday-delivery agreement with Amazon. ....
Related: Lobbying Spending Database - Amazon.com, 2013 | OpenSecrets.org
NALC: Budget update - The devil is always in the details
…from Jennifer Warburton, Director of Legislative and Political Affairs
November 12, 2013
"But the buzz around Capitol Hill is that the budget might also include yet another hit to federal employees—significant employee increases to Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension contributions.
There is the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) approach, which would increase pension contributions 5.5 percent; the Obama budget proposal, which would increase pension contributions by 1.2 percent over three years; or the Senate approach, which is silence (on this issue)."
Chairman Carper Statement on USPS Announcement Regarding Sunday Package Delivery - Carper.senate.gov
November 11, 2013
WASHINGTON - Today, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following reaction to the U.S. Postal Service's announcement that it will deliver packages seven days a week through a new partnership with Amazon:
“This announcement by the U.S. Postal Service is a clear example of the innovative solutions that the agency needs to adopt in order to survive and thrive in the 21st century. Partnering with Amazon for Sunday package delivery offers a great deal of promise. It will allow both Amazon and the Postal Service to better serve their customers and has the potential to boost the ailing Postal Service's bottom line. It might also encourage other companies to pursue similar agreements with the Postal Service, creating even more opportunities for growth. I look forward to learning more about this new agreement and how it will impact the Postal Service’s ongoing challenge to cut costs while increasing revenue. Ultimately, Congress must give the Postal Service the tools, resources, and flexibility it needs so it can right its financial ship and continue to implement forward-thinking ideas like this one. That’s why I continue to work with Dr. Coburn and our colleagues on our bipartisan postal reform bill that will make the necessary changes to ensure the Postal Service is competitive in an era of digital communication and can continue to serve the American public for years to come.”
Via Community and Postal Workers United (CPWU):
FSS Contractor Defrauded USPS, Whistleblower Says - Dead Tree Edition
November 9, 2013
A whistleblower is claiming that his former employer, Northrop Grumman, defrauded the U.S. Postal Service by providing it false information about the Flats Sequencing System.
The ex-employee “alleges that the company violated the False Claims Act in a number of ways with respect to the FSS contract [and] alleges damage to the USPS in an amount of at least approximately $179 million annually,” Northrop Grumman stated in its recent quarterly financial report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The ex-employee also “alleges he or she was improperly discharged in retaliation.”
Magazines accidentally ejected from an FSS machine.
Northrop Grumman was the lead contractor for the FSS – 100 football-field-sized machines designed to sort catalogs, magazines, and other flat mail. The company has sued USPS for non-payment, and the Postal Service has counter-sued with a claim that Northrop’s late and substandard work prevented the FSS from realizing its expected cost savings.
So far, the FSS has resulted in higher mail-handling costs that have outweighed the Postal Service’s decreased delivery costs. But postal officials expect productivity to rise early next year when flats mailers will be required to present mail for FSS ZIP codes in a manner that is optimized for FSS. ....
Postal Service announcing 2013 year-end financial results next Friday - FederalTimes.com
November 8, 2013
The U.S. Postal Service will be announcing its final fiscal 2013 financial results next Friday, according to a Federal Register notice today, and as usual, the only suspense will lie in the exact amount of red ink. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that last year’s loss will be nowhere near 2012’s monster figure of $15.9 billion.
That was a fluke, caused in large part because the Postal Service’s books reflected the cost of two skipped payments for future retiree health benefits. (Congress had pushed the deadline for the 2011 payment into 2012.) For 2013, the final number is likely to be in the range of $6 billion.
But as FedLine has noted before, even modest improvements in the Postal Service’s financial performance lessen the political heat on Congress to move on the long-term restructuring legislation that USPS leaders desperately want. Those odds, never good to start with, continue to fade. ....
Amid Capitol Turmoil, Postal Service Crisis Drags On - NYTimes.com
November 6, 2013
WASHINGTON — In early 2009, John E. Potter, then the postmaster general, delivered a dire warning to Congress: The United States Postal Service would run out of money unless lawmakers stepped in and passed legislation to help the agency stabilize its finances.
“We are facing losses of historic proportion,” Mr. Potter told a Senate committee.
Since then, the post office has seen revenue for first-class mail — the agency’s cash cow — decline by $2.4 billion. It has defaulted on three annual $5.5 billion payments into a health care fund for its future retirees. It has also exhausted its $15 billion borrowing limit from the Treasury Department. More recently the agency has asked for permission to raise its postage prices to help cover costs.
But in the face of such grim developments, Congress has yet to heed the warnings of Mr. Potter and his successor, Patrick R. Donahoe, and pass legislation to help the agency.
The slow pace of reform of the Postal Service, which has experienced a net loss of about $41 billion since 2007, has frustrated postal unions, customers and some lawmakers. The agency’s financial woes, they said, have taken a back seat to other issues. ....
Regardless of the election of interim Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey today, since he will have to resign shortly in order to start his 2016 campaign for US President, question #2 passed raising the minimum wage in our State to $8.25 an hour. Christie vetoed this question earlier in the year. Take that Governor elect, maybe there is still hope for the working class. Peace!
NJ "Raise The Wage" - Thank You Email [pdf]
Senate Postal Reform Bill Delayed 'Indefinitely' - GovExec.com
November 4, 2013
The bipartisan Senate proposal to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service has hit a snag, forcing the bill’s authors to push back the timetable for a vote.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the bill with ranking member Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in August and has held two hearings on the legislation. But the 2013 Postal Reform Act has drawn significant criticism from committee Democrats, forcing Carper to postpone a markup originally scheduled for Wednesday.
Carper “wants to ensure that his colleagues and stakeholders have additional time needed to address provisions of the bill and make further improvements, which is why the postal markup was postponed,” a committee aide told Government Executive. Despite the setback, Carper remains optimistic the committee can proceed with a markup on the bill “later this month,” the aide said.
A second, Democratic aide involved in negotiations said the bill is suspended “indefinitely,” though the chairman still hopes to move on the bill before Thanksgiving. Democrats have expressed their desire to include more of the language from the bill that passed the Senate in the last session of Congress. ....
Dianne Feinstein Delivers Postal Profits to Hubby - Townhall.com
November 4, 2013
"If they really wanted to succeed in life, what I should have done was teach my kids how to be politicians.
Education? Forget it.
Experience? Not necessary.
My children merely had to learn how to turn on the charm, smile, and promise anything and everything with one objective in mind, to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and/or the United States Senate.And this would be their reward: Cheap healthcare, free parking, extravagant junkets, lifetime pensions, unlimited use of health spas, frequent television and radio time, and of course “legal” insider stock trading.
But perhaps the greatest incentive would have been something like the apparent deal that was recently orchestrated by the senior Democratic Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, as she convinced her fellow senators to sell 56 buildings that currently house offices for the U.S. Postal Service.
Rumor has it that the sale of the properties will fetch about $19 billion. The interesting point, and what all future House and Senate wannabes should aspire to, is having a spouse who owns the company that will broker the U.S. Postal Service deal. That company is the CBRE Group and that spouse is Richard Blum. A commission of 3% to 6%, or about $1 billion, is definitely quite handsome and will be received by Mr. Blum and Mrs. Blum (Dianne Feinstein)."
Another setback for Chamber's postal bill - TheHill.com
November 3, 2013
A range of Senate Democrats – many from red states – have serious concerns about the U.S. Chamber’s bill to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, adding a new impediment to Congress’s efforts to get legislation done.
The Postal Service is on pace to bleed more than $20 billion over 2012 and 2013, and top officials there have urged Democrats and Republicans to come together on a legislative fix.
But in the latest setback for postal reform, Democrats like Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) say the current Senate bill would do too much to, among other things, slow down delivery standards and eat into USPS’s remaining competitive advantages.
In the face of those concerns, the Senate Homeland Security Committee pushed back a scheduled Wednesday mark-up of the bill, released this summer by the panel’s chairman, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), and its top Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
“There’s probably a dozen things that need to be fixed with that bill,” Tester, a member of the Homeland Security panel, told The Hill before the mark-up was delayed.
Asked if changes would be needed to get his vote, Tester said: “Absolutely. Unequivocally, yes.”
Trick or Treat: Committee Delays Vote on Postal Bill - NAPUS.org [pdf]
November 1, 2013
Today, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) notified his committee members that S. 1486, the Carper-Coburn postal reform bill, will be not be brought to a vote next week. However, on that day, the Committee plans a confirmation vote on Nanci Langley and Tony Hammond to continue as members of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
Eventually, the Committee will take up be bill, but it has yet to determine which text of S. 1486 will serve as the base bill, the “chairman’s substitute.” All amendments to the legislation, including the substitute are not required to be filed until 5:00 PM EST, two days before the markup. So, it is possible the reaction time on changes to S. 1486 will be limited. Despite the delay, the NAPUS Government Relations Department has scheduled a teleconference on Monday evening for Legislative Chairs whose states’ senators are represented on the Senate Committee. ....
The Future of Your Federal Retirement System - FedSmith.com
October 31, 2013
"We are now seeing proposals that would impact the current and future retirement income of federal employees. In the past, as with a federal pay freeze, proposals that would negatively impact federal pay and benefits would not have a realistic chance of passing in Congress. However, as with the pay freeze federal employees have experienced in recent years, other proposals impacting federal benefits are now under serious consideration.
One of the most important benefits to federal employees is the federal retirement system. Federal employees, whether under CSRS or the newer FERS system have access to a retirement system that is one of the more generous systems available to American workers. That does not mean that there are not some systems that are better, as some readers like to point out, but it is among the best retirement systems around.
So, to alter this retirement system would be a significant change for many of our readers.
With that in mind, here is what is now under consideration. [read more]"
FEHBP As a Model of Health - GovExec.com
October 30, 2013
Of the Republican proposals to eliminate, modify and otherwise undermine the health care reform law known as Obamacare, two would affect federal employees. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., wants to move government workers out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into the insurance exchanges created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Conversely, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., thinks FEHBP is so good that all Americans should be allowed in the program.
“The American people should have as easy a consumer experience as federal employees do,” Issa said when he introduced legislation -- the Equal Healthcare Access Act -- in October to open FEHBP to everyone. ....
OPM has taken pains to reassure FEHBP participants that they can retain their health insurance and that the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace will not affect FEHBP. The two health insurance programs, despite their similarities, are completely separate. Federal employees who have opted out of coverage because it’s too expensive will have to choose between enrolling in the exchange network or FEHBP. Francis and Ermer say FEHBP offers better bang for the buck. The program, which will have 256 health plans in 2014, could add more participants to its beneficiary pool because of Obamacare.
But opening up FEHBP to everyone would be problematic, according Ermer, Francis and others who are familiar with the program. One challenge would be figuring out what portion of premiums enrollees would pay if FEHBP covers the general population. Right now, the government pays up to 75 percent of premiums. “It’s an employer-sponsored plan, it’s not a program like Medicare or Medicaid,” Ermer says. “That’s one of the reasons why Congress created the multistate plan [in the Affordable Care Act].”
A 2009 Urban Institute report on FEHBP captures the program’s popularity as a health insurance model, but also the limitations. “Conservatives like the program’s reliance on private health plans and market competition,” the analysis stated. “Liberals like the prospect of expanding to everyone the FEHBP’s large-employer-style benefits, community rating, and close oversight of insurer pricing. However, it does not seem to be wise simply to open the existing FEHBP to nonfederal enrollment nor feasible to precisely replicate the FEHBP and its national approach outside the context of federal employment.”
Senate Confirms Obama's Choice For Labor Board General Counsel - HuffingtonPost.com
October 30, 2013
WASHINGTON -- The Senate confirmed President Barack Obama's choice for general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, writing the last chapter in a Capitol Hill spat that nearly shut down the federal agency earlier this year.
Richard Griffin, who was nominated by the president in August, passed by a vote of 55 to 44, along party lines. Once Griffin assumes his post at the board, which is tasked with enforcing labor law on companies and unions, it will mark the first time in more than three years that the agency's general counsel was acting with Senate approval.
A former general counsel at the International Union of Operating Engineers, Griffin will serve a four-year term functioning as the lead prosecutor at the board, spearheading investigations and bringing charges of unfair labor practices. Rulings at the quasi-judicial agency are made by a separate panel of five board members nominated by the president. Griffin himself served as a board member under recess appointment before he was nominated for general counsel.
Griffin will replace Lafe Solomon, who's served as acting general counsel since 2010.
If not for a filibuster deal hashed out between Senate Democrats and Republicans this summer, it's unlikely Griffin or any other Obama nominee would have been confirmed to the general counsel post. ....
Schumer to propose end to mail restrictions on alcohol shipments - LoHudBlogs.com
October 30, 2013
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer will announce today a proposal to end restrictions on shipping beer, wine, and spirits through the United States Postal Service.
SchumerFageThe legislation that bars the postal service from shipping beer, wine, and spirits dates back to prohibition. Schumer will argue it is no longer needed and is hurting the state’s economy, Gannett’s Ashley Hupfl reports. ....
Related: Schumer pushes for end to ban on USPS shipping alcohol - WRVO.org
GOP lawmakers eye federal-retiree benefits in upcoming budget talks - WashingtonPost.com
October 29, 2013
Federal employees are bracing for the possibility of paying more toward their retirement benefits as political leaders slowly renew budget discussions with an eye toward deficit reduction. House Republicans and President Obama have both proposed the change in order to achieve savings.
Democrats in both chambers of Congress have opposed the cuts, but Republicans are suggesting that they have leverage in the upcoming talks because of the automatic spending reductions known as sequestration, which are already in place through 2021.
The government-wide cuts, which started in March, are scheduled to grow larger in 2014. At that point, they will trim spending by $109 billion for the year compared to pre-sequester levels, whereas the 2013 reductions amounted to about $85 billion.
That gives Republicans somewhat of an advantage, since another breakdown in negotiations would still yield significant spending cuts — albeit hitting certain programs many GOP lawmakers would prefer to protect.
Democrats have insisted on eliminating the sequester in part by closing tax “loopholes” for corporations and the wealthy, but GOP leaders have said they would rather continue with the automatic cuts than allow new revenue through taxes. A conference committee made up of House and Senate lawmakers is supposed to work out the differences. ....
U.S. Postal Service: Time to Go Public? - InvestorPlace.com
Here are the pros and cons for following the Royal Mail's lead
October 28, 2013
Although my valuation estimate for USPS runs as high as $70 billion, it doesn’t take into consideration that the Royal Mail actually makes money and has for some time. The same can’t be said for the USPS.
In February 2012, the USPS published a five-year business plan that sought to remove $22 billion in annual costs from its operations by the end of 2016. In doing so it would be able to repay the $15 billion it owes the U.S. Treasury. But in order to do all of this, it needs the help of Congress. The Saturday delivery issue is just one example how the postal service’s hands are tied. If Congress doesn’t untie them, its annual losses could be as high as $18 billion by 2016. That’s never going to fly with investors.
Probably an even bigger impediment to going public than its large losses is the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, passed in 2006, which forced the USPS to pre-fund the present value of 75 years of its pension and health-benefit fund over 10 years; that’s $5.5 billion annually. In 2011, it couldn’t pay because it didn’t have enough cash to do so. But here’s the scary thing — its pension is more than 100% funded compared to 42% for the federal government and 80% for the average Fortune 1000 company. The USPS is being held to a standard that no one else has to live up to. Until this requirement goes away, there’s no possibility of an IPO. ....
Bill Would Open FEHBP To All Americans - FedSmith.com
October 25, 2013
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has announced legislation, H.R. 3319, the Equal Healthcare Access Act, that would allow all Americans to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP).
“The Equal Healthcare Access Act offers Americans access to the same health insurance plans long enjoyed by Members of Congress and their families,” said Chairman Issa. “This is a free market approach to healthcare with government playing the very limited role of helping small businesses and individuals come together to get a better price for healthcare – much like larger businesses can already negotiate on their own.”
Issa added, “The American people should have as easy a consumer experience as federal employees do.”
Government employee unions weren’t so crazy about the idea. American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox thought the bill was unnecessary, saying, “If Rep. Issa wants a health-care system where consumers are able to choose among many different plans and no one is turned away or charged more for pre-existing conditions, he should take a look at the exchanges established through Obamacare.”
National Treasury Employees Union president Colleen Kelley added, “Federal employees and retirees should not be put in the position of subsidizing non-employee health care costs.”
The idea of opening the FEHBP up to more participation is not a new one. Legislation has been introduced in the past along similar lines, such as then Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) proposing opening the FEHBP to all Americans in 2007.
Proposals actually go back as far as 2004 when presidential candidate John Kerry floated the idea. In fact, other presidential candidates at the time were debating the issue. To date, however, none of these proposals has come to fruition.
To search the 2014 health insurance premiums for plans under the FEHBP, be sure to visit the insurance section at FedsDataCenter.com.
Rep. Schiff to Postal Service: Don’t Relocate WeHo San Vicente Post Office to Doheny - WeHoVille.com
October 25, 2013
Rep. Adam Schiff called on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to cancel its plans to relocate the West Hollywood Post Office on Monday, adding another chapter to the local campaign against moving the San Vicente Boulevard office.
"Schiff is a co-sponsor for the Postal Service Protection Act, a congressional bill that proposes to fix the postal service’s financial woes by allowing the service to recover overpayments it has made to its retirement programs. According to studies by the Hay Group and the Segal Company, the postal service has overpaid at least $50 billion into its pension plans.
Since the 2006 passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, USPS has been required to pay $5.5 billion annually into an account to pre-fund retiree health-care, 75 years into the future.
Schiff’s bill claims that “no other agency or company in America is required to pre-fund its benefits, especially on such an aggressive schedule.”
According to Maher, USPS has “taken a larger, more comprehensive approach to our financial crisis and has developed a ‘Five Year Plan to Profitability,’ which was shared with members of congress and outlined specifically what must be done to return us to financial solvency.”
According to Maher, a number of postal bills have been put forth, but “congress has failed to pass any legislation.”"
Posts offer major potential to boost financial inclusion, new UPU-World Bank study confirms - UPU.int
24.10.2013 - Unbanked people including the poor, less educated and unemployed are more likely to get their financial services from a post office than a bank or other financial institution, confirms a global analysis by the Universal Postal Union and the World Bank.
The study Financial Inclusion and the Role of the Post Office [pdf], presented today during the UPU’s global forum on financial inclusion for development, in Geneva, Switzerland, also shows that the postal network’s reach and size can significantly boost account ownership among the less privileged.
But with only 44 per cent of adults in developing countries that offer postal financial services having an account – either at the post, at a bank or both –, compared to a 90-per-cent penetration in high-income economies, the findings show there is still an enormous potential for postal networks to ease financial inclusion, say the authors, economists from the UPU and the World Bank.
Postal Regulatory Commission: Letter From Senator Susan Collins [pdf]
Filed October 23, 2013
Ms. Shoshana Grove
Postal Regulatory Commission
901 New York Avenue, Suite 200
Washington DC 20268-0001
Re: Docket No. R2013-11, Rate Adjustment Due To Extraordinary Or Exceptional Circumstances
Dear Ms. Grove:
I am writing to comment on the Postal Service’s recent attempt to revive in this docket the above-CPI (“exigent”) rate increase that the Postal Service initially sought in 2010. For the reasons I summarize here, 39 U.S.C. § 3622(d)(1)(E), which was added to Title 39 by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (“PAEA”), does not authorize rate increases to recover losses caused by electronic diversion of communications from mail to the Internet. As the author of the PAEA, I can speak to the congressional intent of this provision. ....
"I am therefore troubled by the Postal Service’s latest request for approval of an above- CPI rate increase. While the Postal Service claims that the increase is justified by the 2007-2009 recession, it appears that virtually all of the losses claimed by the Postal Service result from the effects of electronic diversion in Fiscal Year 2012. The outcome of this decision will have significant effect on the $1 trillion mailing industry, which supports approximately 7.5 million jobs nationwide. The proposed rate increases would impose substantial costs on the mailing industry, would hurt small businesses and local newspapers, and undoubtedly would accelerate further decline in mail volume and revenues. The Postal Service will permanently lose business from catalog companies, publishers, and others. Some small newspapers may be forced to completely abandon their relationship with the Postal Service because of the increased costs, coupled with the possible decline in service proposed by the Postal Service." ....
27,375-Day Delivery - BoiseWeekly.com
Will future postmen even ring once?
October 23, 2013
....Besides, there's a reason you might not be aware of why the Postal Service keeps having to raise its rates, and it has nothing to do with government inefficiency, Saturday delivery or the convenience of having a mailbox right outside your front door. Since the pimps of privatization—otherwise known as the Republican Party—have just enough sense to realize that the outright dismantling of the USPS would be an intensely unpopular thing to do, they have devised a plot to erode the service from within—to hollow it out so that it collapses under the weight of the rules that a GOP Congress imposed on it.
In 2006, that Congress mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund health benefits for future retirees. Get that? Future retirees. And for 75 years out.
Let me repeat: Because of a bullshit Republican idea—which almost certainly sprung originally from the brow of some government-hating hotbed like the American Legislative Exchange Council or one of the other Koch brothers-funded temples of unfettered free market idolatry—the Postal Service must do what no other business, agency or institution in the country has to do, which is to provide benefits up front for employees that haven't even been born yet.
And get this: It all has to be paid within 10 years, amounting to an added expense to the USPS of 5.5 billion buckaroos a year. That's $5.5 billion in expense they have to figure into what is otherwise a profitable operation.
Which is why I felt compelled to do a column defending a status quo neither myself or most other Americans give much thought to—not unless the mail is a few minutes late, or it's Columbus Day. That's the thing about the postal people, isn't it?... 520,000-plus of them, all fellow citizens—one in five veterans--out there in the snow, the rain, the heat and gloom of night, inconspicuously doing something we all rely on, while rarely contemplating how much we rely on it.
And now, the folks who already have so much money they can't think of anything else to buy—except more politicians—want to Halliburton-ize our Postal Service. And wouldn't those 75 years of pension reserves sweeten the pot considerably?
I'd suggest you contact your congressional representatives and ask them to help rectify this absurdity. But of course, here in Idaho, that would be like calling four prostitutes to help close down a brothel.
Federal Agencies Lost 6,000 Jobs in September - GovExec.com
October 22, 2013
The federal government shed 6,000 jobs in September, according to new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The U.S. Postal Service -- which has seen an overall loss of about 200,000 employees over the last six years -- added 1,400 jobs last month, while the rest of federal agencies dropped a net of 7,300 workers. Including the Postal Service, the federal government ended the month with more than 2.7 million employees.
The BLS report, which typically comes out on the first Friday of each month, was delayed due to the government shutdown. The numbers do not reflect any impact of the shutdown, which began Oct. 1. BLS will also delay the October jobs report, by one week. That report will begin to illustrate the shutdown’s effect on the labor market. ....
APWU E-Team Weekly - APWU.org
Deputy PMG Tells Mailing Industry to Write Members of Congress
October 18, 2013
Have Your Representatives Heard from You?
In an interview with the mailing industry’s Direct Marketing News, Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman noted that powerful forces are coming together to support flawed postal legislation (H.R. 2748 and S. 1486) that would cut service to Americans and needlessly punishes postal workers.
“You’ve got the chairman and the ranking member of both [postal] authorizing committees saying that they want reform and they want it now. You have the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader saying they want reform this year,” said Stroman, the politically connected Deputy PMG and former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff director.
Stroman also said that if the Postal Service gets relief from the $5 billion yearly requirement to pre-fund retirees’ healthcare, the USPS may cancel plans to raise postage rates. This is a key goal of the mailing industry and is likely to provide strong motivation for the mailing industry to lobby Congress to support the bills.
It may strike you as odd that while the Postal Service says relief from the pre-funding mandate could improve its financial position enough to eliminate the need to raise postage rates, management also insists that the Postal Service’s financial position is so dire that even with freedom from pre-funding it would still need to proceed with drastic cuts to the mail processing network and service standards.
Is protecting the mailing industry’s cash cow more important to the Postal Service than preserving jobs and providing universal and timely service to the American people?
In the interview, Stroman urged the mailing industry to write to members of Congress in support of the flawed bills that are working their way through the House and Senate. As forces rally to advance bills that would be highly detrimental to postal workers and the American people will you write to your members of Congress and ask them to oppose such efforts?
To send a letter TODAY to your representatives in opposition to destructive postal bills, please click here.
To read Deputy PMG Ron Stroman’s interview, please click here.
Union Leaders Welcome End of Shutdown, Lifting of Debt Limit - DCLabor.org
October 16, 2013
(Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)
Union leaders welcomed Congress’ end of the 2-week partial federal shutdown and the decision to suspend the nation’s debt limit, thus avoiding what would have been a first-ever default by the U.S. But one, AFGE President J. David Cox, also warned we could be right back in the same partisan soup in several months when the legislation mandating those two moves expires.
“On behalf of the 670,000 federal employees represented by AFGE, I am thrilled a deal was reached to put our members back to work and restore the services American taxpayers count on,” said Cox, most of whose members were locked out of their jobs for more than two weeks. “Thousands could not manage through the shutdown on goodwill alone, and they lost their apartments, daycare slots, and good credit scores.
“Make no mistake about it: This is not a happy day for federal employees. The Senate deal is simply a brief reprieve from the suffering federal employees and their families have endured for the past 16 days. We cannot accept another government shutdown in just a few short weeks. Federal workers and the public they serve have suffered enough,” Cox declared. ....
Congress to vote to end lockout, avert debt default - NALC.org
Oct. 16, 2013—A bipartisan Senate deal to end the 16-day-old shutdown of the federal government and to raise the federal debt limit is expected to go before Congress today. The shutdown has locked out hundreds of thousands of federal employees from their jobs, forced hundreds of thousands of others to work without pay, and damaged the national economy. The bill must pass to avert a global financial crisis that would ensue if the U.S. Treasury defaulted on its bonds—which the Treasury says could occur as early as Thursday, Oct. 17.
If a default occurred letter carriers would not be immune from the resulting financial chaos.
The Treasury department has informed postal management that the Postal Service’s access to its own funds, which are used to meet payroll and to pay vendors, could be disrupted. This would delay the distribution of paychecks. More broadly, Republican and Democratic economists alike have warned that a U.S. default would cause a recession more severe than the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Such a recession could drive the Postal Service into bankruptcy and threaten tens of thousands of postal jobs.
“Congress has already shamefully defaulted on its obligations to federal employees and to veterans and other American citizens who rely on federally funded services,” NALC President Fred Rolando (left) said. “It should not compound the damage by destroying the full faith and credit of the United States.
“I urge every NALC member to call your Senators and House members at 202-224-3121 to urge them to vote for the legislation to re-open the government,” Rolando added. ....
Local postal workers train to save lives in a bioterrorist attack - 10News.com
Critical medication-delivery program in jeopardy
October 11, 2013
SAN DIEGO - Local postal workers are training to save lives in the case of a bioterrorist attack. Six cities participated in the training and drills in San Diego went so well that plans for expansion were in the works. But now, after the sequestration and federal shutdown, funding for the new postal program is in jeopardy. ....
"Around 23 percent of our postal service has a military background and the postal workers tell 10News this is just another way to serve." ....
APWU E-TEAM WEEKLY [pdf]
October 11, 2013
- John Marcotte Elected Legislative & Political Director
"In the hotly-contested election of national union officers that ended Oct. 7, John Marcotte was elected Legislative & Political Director. He takes office Nov. 12. Congratulations!"
- Representatives Co-Sponsor Resolution Supporting Federal Workers
- What do the Government Shutdown and Privatizing the Postal Service Have in Common?
- Minnesotans Experience Mail Delays
What's Weighing Down the Postal Service? - Dead Tree Edition
October 8, 2013
The internet and the economic downturn have not been kind to the nation's postal system, but it's also been burdened by problems that were, and are, completely avoidable.
I, and other postal commentators, have spilled a lot of ink (and pixels) explaining how billions of dollars have been needlessly taken from the U.S. Postal Service to overfund its pension and retiree health benefits. The chart above from Rafe Morrissey of the Greeting Card Association shows clearly that USPS's payments are way out of line with what's typical for government agencies.
"Both funding levels are substantial financial strains . . . and do not allow for fair competition in the marketplace," says the slide, which is taken from a free webinar that Morrissey is presenting tomorrow (Oct. 9, 2013, 2 p.m. Eastern, 8 a.m. Hawaiian) called "A commonsense solution to the postal service's budget crisis."
Morrissey, the GCA's Vice President of Postal Affairs, will present the association's plan for reviving the Postal Service, which advocates nationwide implementation of cluster boxes and adopting a host of other changes while preserving Saturday delivery and avoiding above-inflation rate increases.
For more information on the Postal Service's pension overpayments and "prefunding" of retiree health benefits, see Congress Hears the Truth About Postal Service Finances, which describes the USPS Inspector General's rather forthright Congressional testimony on the subject.
Who’s behind the government shutdown? - SaveThePostOffice.com
Some of the same people trying to privatize the Postal Service
October 6, 2013
There’s an article on the front page of today’s New York Times about how the federal budget impasse didn't just happen overnight. "A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning" describes how a coalition of conservative activists made plans months ago to use a government shutdown as a tool to fight for the repeal of Obamacare.
The article describes “a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law” that includes pressuring vulnerable Republican members of Congress and spending millions of dollars on ad campaigns.
The cast of characters behind the shutdown should be familiar to those who have been watching the effort to dismantle and privatize the Postal Service. The conservative think-tanks and lobbying organizations behind the attack on Obamacare are some of the same groups waging a war against postal workers and the fundamental principle that the Postal Service should be owned by the American people.
The Times article provides a “who’s who” of the conservative movement, and nearly everyone mentioned is also involved with the attack on the people’s postal system. ....
Nine Ways the Postal Service Is Not Like a Real Business - DeadTreeEdition.blogspot.com
October 5, 2013
The hand wringing about the U.S. Postal Service’s broken “business model” doesn’t fool us. The “dot com” at the end of “usps.com” doesn’t fool us. The nagging of politicians and pundits who say USPS should operate more like a business doesn’t fool us.
Despite all the talk about the Postal Service being a business, regular people understand it has the soul of a government agency and in fact is not allowed to act in a businesslike manner. Here are nine examples of how USPS is not like a real business:
1. Real businesses underfund their pensions. The Postal Service overfunded its pension plan (to the benefit of the federal government, not postal employees).
2. When a too-big-to-fail business gets into financial trouble, the federal government often props it up with interest-free loans in the name of economic stimulus. When the Postal Service ran into financial trouble, Congress insisted that it continue lending interest-free money to the federal government in the guise of prepaid retiree health benefits.
3. A real business with thousands of employees might pay its CEO $50 million a year, and no one bats an eyelash. But if the Postmaster General, who oversees 600,000-plus workers, earns 1% of that amount ($500,000), watch the politicians fall all over themselves lambasting the Postal Service’s lavish spending.
4. Real businesses are governed by a board of directors, generally consisting of about a dozen leaders who are or soon become intimately familiar with the enterprise. But the supposedly independent Postal Service in reality is governed by a 535-member board known as Congress, whose members generally know nothing about the USPS’s operations except how to get a post office named and how to prevent it from closing.
5. Board members of a real business have powerful incentives, like stock options, to make the company run more efficiently. But a member of the Postal Service’s real board (that is, a Congressman) only has incentives to preserve inefficiencies that maximize the number of postal employees and facilities in his district.
6. When the board of a real business fails to act, board members get punished with a lower stock price and the prospect of not being re-elected. When the Postal Service’s real board of directors fails to act, postal customers get punished with higher prices.
7. Real businesses make money on monopolies – at least until the trust busters come along. The Postal Service has a government-protected monopoly on the mailbox, but it comes with such onerous conditions that the monopoly is unprofitable.
8. Real businesses make campaign contributions and use lobbyists to curry favor with members of Congress. The only “campaign donation” USPS makes is the franking privilege, which enables Congress members to send free mail to constituents (usually just before election time). USPS's lobbying efforts are limited severely by law.
9. A real business that is billions in debt, has too many locations and employees, and is subject to strong union contracts would have declared Chapter 11 by now. The law would be on its side as it tried to walk away from most of its debts, scale back its operations, and even slip out of its union contracts. The Postal Service, however, apparently cannot turn to the bankruptcy courts – one more example of how the law treats it as just another government agency even though it’s supposed to operate like a business.
USPS retiree healthcare reform needed, PRC nominees say - FierceGovernment.com
October 4, 2013
Two Postal Regulatory Commission nominees called for Congress to adopt legislation that would reform the way the Postal Service provides healthcare to retirees, during an Oct. 2 Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee confirmation hearing.
"There's no doubt legislative changes are needed to put the Postal Service on sound financial footing," PRC nominee Tony Hammond said. And reforming the way the Postal Service pays into the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan would be a big one, he said.
PRC nominee Nanci Langley agreed that allowing the Postal Service to set up its own way of providing retiree healthcare would be financially beneficial to USPS because of its unique workforce. ....
PMG’s Credibility In Doubt Again - APWU.org
By Greg Bell, Executive Vice President
(This article will appear in the November-December 2013 edition of The American Postal Worker.)
At Senate hearings in September on proposed postal legislation — legislation the APWU and the three other postal unions oppose — Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe made several statements that once again call his credibility into question.
At a Sept. 19 hearing, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said, “It is presently the law that an arbitrator cannot consider the financial health of the Post Office in arbitrating a labor dispute with the Post Office. Is that correct?” Donahoe responded, “That is correct.”
Really?! The fact of the matter is Sen. Coburn’s statement and PMG Donahoe’s response are wrong. When contract negotiations end in arbitration, arbitrators routinely consider the financial condition of the Postal Service — along with other issues raised by either party.
The exchange between Sen. Coburn and the Postmaster General is important because the bill (S. 1486) sponsored by Sen. Coburn and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) includes a provision that would require arbitrators to consider the Postal Service’s financial condition in interest arbitration.
The unions oppose this provision as well as many others in the bill. The reason is simple: By singling out this issue among all the others that arbitrators have to consider, the legislation could lead arbitrators to elevate the Postal Service’s financial condition above all other factors.
The USPS has lobbied to include the requirement in postal legislation.
At a second hearing on Sept. 26, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) pointed out that Donahoe’s statement was inaccurate. Donahoe said, “I misspoke. I should have said that they can consider it but they’re not required by law not to consider it.”
If this was the first time that Donahoe misspoke in this way his error would be understandable, but it’s not. ....
Ralph Nader writes Senator Feinstein on potential conflict of interest in CBRE's sale of post offices
October 2, 2013
After reading Peter Byrne's article in the East Bay Express about the potential conflicts of interest in the sale of postal facilities by her husband Richard Blum, Ralph Nader has written to Senator Dianne Feinstein to express his concerns.
Mr. Nader suggests that "to remove all doubt of impropriety, you should: introduce and champion a bill to immediately suspend all sales of postal properties throughout the country; and call for a close examination of the contact between CBRE and the USPS to sell postal properties." The letter is here [pdf].
Mail fraud? U.S. Postal Service is set up by Congress to fail - SILive.com
October 1, 2013
Even John F. Hegarty, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, believes the fiscal woes of the USPS are based on these excessive health-care payments.
“Most losses in the last few years have nothing to do with the failed business model or the obsolescence of postal services,” Mr. Hegarty said, faulting the benefits funding.
Before Congress turns to proposed cost-cutting steps such as ending Saturday mail delivery or regular door-to-door service, it should ease the burden of pre-funding of USPS health-care benefits for decades to come.
It’s time for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to stop playing politics with the U.S. Postal Service.
Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Coburn Statements on USPS Default on Payment for Future Retirees - HSGSC.Senate.gov
September 30, 2013
WASHINGTON – Today, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released the following statements regarding the Postal Service’s default on its payment to the U.S. Treasury to fund its future retiree health care obligations:
Chairman Carper: “Unfortunately, today the Postal Service will yet again default on its obligations to the U.S. Treasury. Sadly, this is not the first time the Postal Service has defaulted, nor will it be the last if Congress is unable to come together to pass comprehensive reform legislation. Today’s default is another stark reminder of the Postal Service’s dire financial situation. We have sat around for too long, watching as the financial challenges facing the Postal Service grow more difficult and the potential solutions become more expensive. It has been clear to me and to others for some time that we must act to save this $1 trillion mailing industry and the over eight million jobs that depend on it. In August, Dr. Coburn and I came together to introduce bipartisan legislation that will make the necessary changes to ensure the Postal Service is competitive in an era of digital communication, and this month we held two hearings that examined our legislation and allowed stakeholders to weigh in on the bill and what the Postal Service needs to survive and thrive in the 21st century. I hope to move our bipartisan legislation swiftly through our committee and onto the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.”
Dr. Coburn: “Unfortunately, the Postal Service announced today that it will default on yet another retiree health benefit pre-funding payment, bringing its total defaulted payments to $16.6 billion,” said Dr. Coburn. “These payments are designed to protect the future benefits promised to postal workers, and short-changing this fund only jeopardizes their future. It is clear the time to reform the Postal Service has come. I am hopeful my colleagues will put the long-term best interest of the Postal Service ahead of parochial interests and will thoughtfully consider our bipartisan bill so that the Postal Service can thrive in the future.”
The USPS OIG's site (http://www.uspsoig.gov/) is completely shut down. There is no access to audits, reports, etc. The PRC's site (http://www.prc.gov/) has a shut down announcement but still has info available.
Don't privatize USPS yet - WashingtonTimes.com
September 28, 2013
WASHINGTON, September 28, 2013 — Britain announced a new proposal for mail delivery this month. It will privatize its postal service, the Royal Mail. Estimated to be worth nearly three billion pounds ($4.8 billion), the Royal Mail will begin selling shares of stock to potential investors sometime in the next few weeks.
The United States should think twice before following Britain’s lead.
The Royal Mail has problems. It appears profitable on paper — Royal Mail’s operating profit tripled in the last year, to just over $600 million — but this is misleading. The Mail would not be turning a profit if the government had not paid off the $6.9 billion deficit in its pension fund last March.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is having an even harder time. Last year, the Postal Service reported a record loss of $15.9 billion. Most of this is due to future health and retiree benefits for postal workers.
Although delivering mail may not turn a profit, it is a valuable public service. The Postal Service delivers 40 percent of the world’s cards and letters, according to the Center for American Progress. Sending letters, though less common today, is far from obsolete. Spending a small amount of tax money to keep the postal service afloat is not automatically a bad idea. ....
Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee
"Outside the Box: Reforming and Renewing the Postal Service, Part II - Promoting a 21st Century Workforce"
September 26, 2013
• The Honorable Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Postal Service
• Jonathan Foley, Director, Planning and Policy Analysis, U.S. Office of Personnel Management
• Frank Todisco, Chief Actuary, U.S. Government Accountability Office
• John E. Dicken, Director, Health Care, U.S. Government Accountability Office
• Fredric V. Rolando, President, National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO
• John F. Hegarty. National President, National Postal Mail Handlers Union
• Robert J. Rapoza, President, National Association of Postmasters of the United States
• Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, Ph.D., President, American Action Forum
• Dean Baker, Ph.D, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research
A summary of today's testimony and comments has been posted on this site.
USPS bio-terror program maybe coming to an end - PostalReporter.com
September 25, 2013
As the video points out: USPS and the Department of Health and Human Services has asked Congress for $5 million to fund the bio-terror program an additional 3 years. Without it they cannot expand to other cities or maintain personnel already trained to respond in the event of a bio terror attack. A Government shutdown could mean an end to this particular program.
If there was a bio-terrorism attack in a major city and you needed to deliver antibiotics to every resident fast, who better than the U.S. Postal Service, with the equipment, the knowledge and the volunteers. Fifteen-hundred letter carriers trained and fitted with protective gear, part of the postal plan initiative; ready to distribute medicine to every resident of Philadelphia and four other cities within 48 hours of an attack. But the program is almost out of money.
Shades of deception: The PMG testifies to the Senate - SaveThePostOffice.com
September 26, 2013
The Senate held another hearing on the Postal Service on Thursday, September 19. The hearing was titled: “Outside the Box: Reforming and Renewing the Postal Service, Part I – Maintaining Services, Reducing Costs and Increasing Revenue Through Innovation and Modernization.” Part II, scheduled for today, Thursday, September 26, promises to address workforce issues.
The first hearing didn’t break any new ground, let alone escape any boxes. It did offer some interesting testimony from the OIG, David Williams, and there were a few interesting exchanges, but like most Senate hearings, it was a fairly scripted event with panelists giving written testimony and senators asking many of the same old questions. There was one brief exchange between Senator Coburn of Oklahoma and the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe that’s worth noting.
The exchange, which comes at about the one hour and eight minute mark of the hearing, involves a question from Senator Coburn and an answer by PMG Donahoe. (The video is here.) They are discussing the impact of labor on costs. ....
Op-Ed: Post office property sales and political connections in the U.S. - DigitalJournal.com
September 24, 2013
In June of this year, Postal Service Inspector General David C. Williams published an audit quite critical of CBRE's exclusive contract. He noted that outsourcing these activities to a single company is "a fundamental change from how the Postal Service previously managed its real estate portfolio [and] Facilities officials should improve oversight to mitigate inherent risks associated with the CBRE contract .... Specifically, there are conflict of interest concerns." ....
USPS August financial statement:
Without RHBF prefunding, YTD $182 million profit - SaveThePostOffice.com
September 25, 2013
The Postal Service’s August financial report [pdf] came out yesterday. With just one month left in the fiscal year, it looks as though 2013 will mark a turnaround in the fiscal condition of the Postal Service.
Revenues are up 1.4 percent over the same period last year (i.e., eleven months, October – August), and they are 2 percent better than expected in the plan.
The bottom line shows a net operating loss of $4.95 billion. But that includes a payment of $5.13 billion to the Retiree Health Benefit Fund (RHBF). Take away the prepayment, and the Postal Service would be showing a net operating profit of $182 million for the year so far. ....
Infrastructure that Doesn’t Cost Taxpayers a Dime
What We Could Do with a Postal Savings Bank - CounterPunch.org
September 24, 2103
The Postal Service Modernization Bills brought by Peter DeFazio and Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, would allow the post office to recapitalize itself by diversifying its range of services to meet unmet public needs.
Needs that the post office might diversify into include (1) funding the rebuilding of our crumbling national infrastructure; (2) servicing the massive market of the “unbanked” and “underbanked” who lack access to basic banking services; and (3) providing a safe place to save our money, in the face of Wall Street’s new “bail in” policies for confiscating depositor funds. All these needs could be met at a stroke by some simple legislation authorizing the post office to revive the banking services it efficiently performed in the past. ....
Postmaster General pledges no post office closures during postal reform but closes post offices anyway - SaveThePostOffice.com
September 25, 2013
On September 19, Postmaster General Donahoe testified to the Senate Homeland Security Committee about the state of the Postal Service and the dire need for legislation. During his testimony, the PMG made a pledge not to close post offices or processing plants while Congress debated postal reform. It’s not a pledge the PMG is likely to keep. In fact, he was already breaking it even as he made it.
The PMG’s promise about not closing facilities occurred during an exchange with Montana Senator Jon Tester. (It occurs at 1:16:55 in the video. The exchange was also reported on KPAX News.) ....
Feds reject Armstrong's motion to dismiss whistleblower suit
Attorneys ask for simultaneous deposition to multiple suits
September 24, 2013
The US Federal Government rejected on Monday a motion to dismiss Floyd Landis's whistleblower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and former US Postal Service team owners Tailwind Sports Corp. The lawsuit alleges that Armstrong and the team management defrauded the government by doping in order to win, and if successful could cost Armstrong $120 million, three times the entire amount of US Postal Service's sponsorship, which was $40 million.
Armstrong's attorneys had argued that the sponsor should have known of the riders' doping, because a French investigation in 2000 looked into such allegations, but the US attorneys rejected that argument.
"The Postal Service, like millions of others, cannot be faulted for having been deceived by Armstrong," they wrote in a filing issued Monday. ....
NAPUS Invited to Testify Before Senate Postal Panel - NAPUS.org
September 23, 2013
Last week, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper and Committee Ranking Member Tom Coburn invited National Association of Postmasters of the United States President Bob Rapoza to testify before their panel regarding S. 1486, the postal reform legislation that they introduced mid-summer. The hearing, which is scheduled for Thursday, September 26, is entitled: “Outside the Box: Reforming and Renewing the Postal Service.” The hearing will begin at 10:00 AM EDT and is the second in a series of two hearings. Thursday’s hearing will focus on promoting a 21st Century Postal workforce, including postal health benefit proposals. Besides President Rapoza, the scheduled witnesses include: the Postmaster General, the presidents of the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, representatives from Office of Personnel Management and the Government Accountability Office, and two economists. You may view the hearing live or after the hearing is completed on the Committee website.
What We Could Do with a Postal Savings Bank: Infrastructure that Doesn’t Cost Taxpayers a Dime - GlobalResearch.ca
September 23, 2013
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is the nation’s second largest civilian employer after WalMart. Although successfully self-funded throughout its long history, it is currently struggling to stay afloat. This is not, as sometimes asserted, because it has been made obsolete by the Internet. In fact the post office has gotten more business from Internet orders than it has lost to electronic email. What has pushed the USPS into insolvency is an oppressive 2006 congressional mandate that it prefund healthcare for its workers 75 years into the future. No other entity, public or private, has the burden of funding multiple generations of employees who have not yet even been born.
The Carper-Coburn bill (S. 1486) is the subject of congressional hearings this week. It threatens to make the situation worse, by eliminating Saturday mail service and door-to-door delivery and laying off more than 100,000 workers over several years.
The Postal Service Modernization Bills brought by Peter DeFazio and Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, would allow the post office to recapitalize itself by diversifying its range of services to meet unmet public needs.
Needs that the post office might diversify into include (1) funding the rebuilding of our crumbling national infrastructure; (2) servicing the massive market of the “unbanked” and “underbanked” who lack access to basic banking services; and (3) providing a safe place to save our money, in the face of Wall Street’s new “bail in” policies for confiscating depositor funds. All these needs could be met at a stroke by some simple legislation authorizing the post office to revive the banking services it efficiently performed in the past. ....
"The post office has been made to look inefficient and obsolete, as if public enterprises are incapable of generating public revenues; yet the postal service has been both self-funding and profitable for over two centuries. If we refuse to allow our government to make money through public enterprises, we will be destined to bear the burden of supporting government with our taxes, while we watch countries such as China, Korea and Japan, which do allow public industries, enjoy the fruits of that profitable and efficient arrangement."
Congressional Response Report: SSA’s Policy on Symptom Validity Tests in Determining Disability Claims - OIG.SSA.gov
Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013.
Management Issue: Improve the Timeliness and Quality of the Disability Process
Audit Report Number: A-08-13-23094
In a January 30, 2013, letter to the Inspector General, Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, requested we review SSA’s policy that disallowed the purchase of SVTs for disability determinations. SVTs are used to determine whether an individual is exhibiting signs of malingering. Malingering is a term used to describe individuals who intentionally pretend to have, or grossly exaggerate, physical or psychological symptoms for their own gain.
Senator Coburn also requested that we review medical literature and survey other agencies and private disability insurance providers regarding the usefulness of SVTs in determining disability.
Our objective was to (1) review the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) policy that prohibits the purchase of symptom validity tests (SVT) in disability determinations; (2) determine the medical community’s opinion on the usefulness of SVTs; and (3) determine whether other Federal agencies and private disability insurance providers consider or fund the purchase of SVTs.
View the Full Report [pdf]
View the Summary [pdf]
Postal service red ink not about the carriers - Kentucky.com
NALC President Fredric Rolando Op-Ed
September 23, 2013
The U.S. Postal Service, older than the country itself and rooted in the Constitution, today provides Americans and their businesses with the world's most affordable delivery service.
In neighborhoods throughout the Lexington area, letter carriers serve people six days a week and contribute far more than delivering the mail.
And yet, there's a good deal of misinformation about the Postal Service, reflected by proposals in Washington that would hurt folks and small businesses in Kentucky and elsewhere. So here are some facts:
The Postal Service doesn't use a dime of taxpayer money. It funds itself by the sale of stamps and other services. And it's doing far better financially than you've heard. ....
"Clearly, lawmakers should address the pre-funding mess they created, and allow the Postal Service to adapt to technological change, as it's done for two centuries, while continuing to provide the world's best delivery services."
APWU Web News Article 107-2013, Sept. 23, 2013
All-Craft Conference Attendees Reminded
to Get Absentee Ballots For State, Local Elections
APWU members who plan to attend the All-Craft Conference and other union events in Las Vegas in early November are reminded to vote early or request absentee ballots if their states or municipalities are holding elections during that time.
Get Your Absentee Ballot Now! - LongDistanceVoter.org
Voting by absentee ballot is easy. We'll help you. Choose your state to get started.
Exigent Postal Rate Increase Expected Next Week - DMNews.com
September 20, 2013
Expect a request for an exigent rate increase to be filed by the Postal Board of Governors when they meet in Kansas City, KS, next week. That's the dire warning from direct mail industry officials following hearings held by the Senate on the Postal Reform Act (PRA) yesterday.
“It was pretty obvious after listening to the Postmaster General that the Board of of Governors is ready to file an exigent rate increase, so I think the industry should be prepared for that,” says DMA SVP of Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale, who testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said at the hearing that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) should be allowed to adjust prices in competitive products, and he gave a vote of confidence that the postal board would be judicious in the amount of increase it might seek.
“What happened at the hearing is certainly not going to increase confidence that a deal is imminent with the House on postal reform, so it would not be surprising to see [the board] file,” says Patrick Henderson, director of government affairs for Quad/Graphics. ....
Related: To Be or Not to Be a Monopoly - DMNews.com - September 20, 2013
APWU News Bulletin 17-2013, Sept. 19, 2013
In Senate Testimony, Guffey Blasts Carper-Coburn Bill
Bill is ‘Fatally Flawed;’ Penalizes Workers, Cuts Service
APWU President Cliff Guffey told a Senate panel on Sept. 19 that the postal bill introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is “fatally flawed.”
The bill (S. 1486 [PDF]) “fails to correct the cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis — the mandate in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) that requires the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees,” Guffey said. [full written testimony (PDF)] | [five-minute opening statement (PDF)]
That mandate is responsible for “ill-considered and destructive cost cutting by the Postal Service” that is penalizing the working men and women of the United States Postal Service by threatening their jobs and undermining their benefits; cutting services to the American people, and dismantling our nation’s Postal Service. ....
PostCom.org: Highlights Of The Day's Testimony
A summary of key points made during today's postal oversight hearing has been posted (and is developed in real time).
USPS News Link - ‘Financial disaster’
PMG says USPS liquidity dangerously low
September 19, 2013
Outside the Box: Reforming and Renewing the Postal Service, Part I
– Maintaining Services, Reducing Costs and Increasing Revenue Through Innovation and Modernization
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Hearing
September 19, 2013
Going Postal - EastBayExpress.com
September 18, 2013
The husband of US Senator Dianne Feinstein has been selling post offices to his friends, cheap.
But email is not the problem and the budget deficit is easy enough to fix, so there must be other reasons for the forced sales, say save-the-post-office activists. The post office is being killed for political reasons, they assert, pointing out that the corporation with the exclusive contract to negotiate sales for the Postal Service's $85 billion real estate portfolio is C.B. Richard Ellis (CBRE). And that the company is chaired by Richard C. Blum, who is the husband of US Senator Dianne Feinstein and a member of the University of California Board of Regents. CBRE's connection to a politically powerful family with a history of accessing public pension funds to make private investments has caused more than a few activists to suspect wrongdoing — even though no evidence of any conflicts of interest tied to the CBRE contract have been revealed.
My yearlong investigation has uncovered evidence of multiple conflicts of interest and problems with post office sales supervised by Blum's company, including:
• CBRE appears to have repeatedly violated its contractual duty to sell postal properties at or above fair market values.
• CBRE has sold valuable postal properties to developers at prices that appear to have been steeply discounted from fair market values, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars in public revenue.
• In a series of apparently non-arm's-length transactions, CBRE negotiated the sale of postal properties all around the country to its own clients and business partners, including to one of its corporate owners, Goldman Sachs Group.
• CBRE has been paid commissions as high as 6 percent by the Postal Service for representing both the seller and the buyer in many of the negotiations, thereby raising serious questions as to whether CBRE was doing its best to obtain the highest price possible for the Postal Service.
• Senator Feinstein has lobbied the Postmaster General on behalf of a redevelopment project in which her husband's company was involved.
APWU Web News Article 103-2013, Sept. 16, 2013
Guffey to Testify Before Senate Committee
APWU President Cliff Guffey will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Sept. 19. The hearing will address “reforming and renewing the Postal Service” and a bill proposed by Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Republican Tom Coburn (R-OK).
The APWU declared that the Carper-Coburn bill (S. 1486) was “fatally flawed” when it was introduced in early August, just before Congress adjourned for a five-week recess. The bill “punishes the working men and women of the United States Postal Service; slashes service to the American people, and fails to protect the USPS from the impending financial disaster Congress set in motion in 2006 with the passage of the PAEA,” Guffey said.
Guffey will testify about the urgent need to enact postal legislation that addresses the cause of the manufactured USPS financial crisis; stops the dismantling of the mail processing and retail network, and protects the rights and benefits of postal employees. ....
Congress turning to social media as use of mail privileges declines
September 14, 2013
FREDERICK, Md. — Maryland’s U.S. congressional delegation spent more than $1.1 million sending official mail through the U.S. Postal Service, requiring only their signatures to reach constituents from 2010 through the first quarter of 2013, according to an analysis by The Frederick News-Post.
Called “franked mail,” the practice is a privilege about as old as the legislative body itself. It is used by Congress to send official mail, most often in the form of a mass mailing of 500 pieces or more, Franking Commission spokesman Steve Dutton said.
“The frank is basically like a stamp,” Dutton said. “It’s their way of being identified as sending it out.”
Since 2010, the House’s member offices and committees have spent more than $57.1 million through the first quarter of 2013 — which ended March 31 — on franked mail, according to a summary of expenditures compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit. A little more than $1.1 million of that was spent in this year already alone.
"Franking spending comes as Congress also deals with the need to reform the U.S. Postal Service, which reported a $1.9 billion loss in the second quarter of this year. While annual Congressional franking represents a fraction of the USPS’ revenue, which was $65 billion in 2012, members may have to grapple with the future closure of offices in their districts. With other cutbacks possible, delayed access to constituents via traditional mail could become a drawback."
Outside the Box: Reforming and Renewing the Postal Service, Part I
– Maintaining Services, Reducing Costs and Increasing Revenue Through Innovation and Modernization
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Hearing
September 19, 2013 10:00AM
Location: SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building
Neither snow nor rain nor threat of anthrax:
U.S. Postal workers part of little-known program to distribute medicine in event of bio-attack
September 11, 2013
Postal workers - particularly those in rural areas - are crucial in the delivery of medicine in the event of a bioterrorism attack. National Rural Letter Carrers' Association President Jeanette P. Dwyer tells The News why.
Neither snow nor rain nor sleet nor threat of biological attack shall stop these couriers.
For the last four years, U.S. Postal workers have been charged by the president with delivering crucial antibiotics and medications to those in rural areas, should the nation fall victim to a bioterrorist attack.
The little-known executive order, signed by President Obama on Dec. 30, 2009, draws out what the U.S. Postal Service and other organizations would do in the event of a bioterrorism attack. ....
Unions’ Misgivings on Health Law Burst Into View - NYTimes.com
September 11, 2013
"Any erosion of health care benefits poses a singular threat to labor leaders, whose arsenal of tools to attract workers into union membership has dwindled alongside the decline of their organizations and their concomitant loss of influence around the country. Many unions and retirees have lost some benefits since the recession began, especially in the public sector as governments froze pension plans."
New report describes conflicts of interest in sales of USPS property by CBRE - SaveThePostOffice.com
September 11, 2013
The husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has been selling post offices at bargain basement prices — often to his own business partners. That’s the conclusion reached by award-winning journalist Peter Byrne after a year-long investigation. His report is entitled Going Postal U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap.
Senator Feinstein’s husband is Richard C. Blum, the chairman of CBRE Group Inc., the largest commercial real estate firm in the world. In 2011, the Postal Service awarded Blum's company an exclusive contract to sell off postal real estate in cities and towns across America.
Byrne's in-depth investigation details the many apparent conflicts of interest driving the CBRE deals. It brings to light a scathing government audit of Blum's contract that is being ignored by the Obama administration. It’s based on information gathered through numerous requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and extensive analysis of invoices, tax records, and government reports, as well as many interviews.
The investigation reveals how Senator Feinstein pressured the Postmaster General to stop a postal construction project, and to favor the interests of a developer working with her husband's firm. We learn that the post office executives in charge of Blum's contract have been up to a financial shenanigans of their own.
Byrne’s investigation has uncovered evidence of multiple conflicts of interest and problems with post office sales supervised by Blum's company. Among its findings are the following:
• CBRE appears to have repeatedly violated its contract to sell postal properties at or above fair market values.
• CBRE has sold valuable postal properties to developers at prices that appear to have been steeply discounted from fair market values, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars in public revenue.
• In a series of apparently non-arm's-length transactions, CBRE negotiated the sale of postal properties all around the country to its own clients and business partners, including to one of its corporate owners, Goldman Sachs Group.
• CBRE has been paid commissions as high as 6 percent by the Postal Service for representing both the seller and the buyer in many of the negotiations, thereby raising serious questions as to whether CBRE was doing its best to obtain the highest price possible for the Postal Service.
• Senator Feinstein has, herself, lobbied the Postmaster General on behalf of a redevelopment project in which her husband’s company was involved.
Byrne’s report also explains why the Post Office is not really broke and how powerful forces on Capital Hill are angling to franchise the U.S. Mail monopoly.
APWU COPA contributed $10,000.00 to Senator Feinstein in the 2012 election campaign cycle.
Undeserved Discounts - BurrusJournal.org
September 11, 2013
In the 1970s because there was not a bridge between postal mechanization and computerization, the Postal Service did not have processing space for the growing volume so what was intended as an interim measure – (the reduction of postage for large mailers who performed mail preparation functions) was created and referred to as rate discounts. The theory was that if a mailer packaged a mailing sequenced by zip code, the Postal Service would not be required to provide that sortation. For example, if multiple mailings were destined for Florida and the mailer separated by zip code, the Post Office would not be required to perform 3 digit separations. Over time, this concept was applied to all processing activities and for each activity a postal cost was assigned that reduced the amount paid by the mailer. To hide the reduced rates, the Postal Service changed the requirement that the amount of postage paid would appear on the mailed item so there was no way for the public to see the exact cost of the mailing.
That program has grown from limited use to an ugly subsidy today so with an investment of a modest sum, less than $5,000 – a mailer can purchase a computer program that generates mailing labels in sequences that will qualify for millions of dollars in discounts through its use. The mailers’ generate labels consistent with mailing requirements and that gift just keeps on giving.
To determine the amount of the discount for each activity, postal management made arbitrary decisions about the size of the discount until I successfully convinced Senator Lieberman to amend the PAEA to insert a requirement that discounts cannot exceed the postal cost avoided. So if the internal postal cost of separating mail to the 3 digit zone was X cents, the discount could not be set at a greater amount. While not perfect, this formula is better than the previous arbitrary application. However, it ignores the effect on postal costs of removing volume from the postal system for performing the discounted function. So, if the Postal Service processes 10 million mail pieces to 3 digit separation and five million pieces have been preprocessed the productivity of the Postal Service is reduced by 50% and the remaining five million pieces are more expensive for the USPS to process. ....
Will a Busy Fall Congressional Schedule Derail Postal Reform? - GovExec.com
September 10, 2013
Issa “continues to communicate” with USPS officials and other leaders in the House, according to his spokesman, Ali Ahmad, and is working with his “counterparts in the Senate and stakeholders” to advance reform legislation.
Issa’s bill cleared the oversight committee without Democratic support, and he “hopes to bring it to a vote [in the full House] in the near future,” Ahmad said.
Another potential roadblock to postal reform cropped up Monday when a group of federal employee unions announced their opposition to two major provisions included in the most significant Senate proposal to overhaul USPS.
The American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union, and National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association expressed concern with provisions to reform the workers’ compensation program for all federal employees and remove postal workers from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The proposals were included in bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
USPS employees have their own unions -- which have been highly critical of the Carper-Coburn bill -- and groups like AFGE and NTEU do not typically wade into postal issues. They said, however, the bill would have a negative impact on the entire federal workforce -- not just postal employees.
The workers’ compensation portion of the bill would lower the benefits provided to employees injured on the job who reach retirement age. These employees would receive compensation in line with their retirement benefits, rather than the larger percentage of their full salary they currently earn.
“Forcing a worker at retirement age to give up regular [Federal Employees’ Compensation Act] benefits earned as a result of an on-the-job injury,” the groups said in a joint statement, “would cause grave economic hardship to many disabled workers.”
The Senate bill, which would allow but not require the Postal Service to opt of FEHBP in favor of its own health benefits system, would weaken insurance coverage for federal employees by lowering the number of people in the pool, the unions said. Currently, about 25 percent of FEHBP enrollees are postal workers or retirees.
“It would be not only unwise to dilute FEHBP in this way, it would be another enormously unfair blow to these dedicated public servants and their families,” said NTEU president Colleen M. Kelley. ....
Postal unions push back on Senate bill - TheHill.com
September 9, 2013
A trio of unions is raising questions about health provisions tucked into the newest Senate postal reform legislation.
The American Federation of Government Employees, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association and the National Treasury Employees Union say that the Senate proposals would give too much leeway to Postal Service executives and be a bad deal for rank-and-file workers.
“The health insurance provisions,” the unions wrote in a letter dated Friday [pdf], “will undermine the successful, longstanding Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and increase costs for millions of federal employees, retirees and their families.”
“These proposed changes are especially problematic given that many federal employees have already been driven to the brink by furloughs and wages that have been stagnant for years,” the unions added. ....
Related: APWU PRESIDENT GUFFEY ON HEALTHCARE - July 17, 2013 Congressional Testimony
Union chief Richard Trumka deplores Syrian slaughter - Politico.com
September 8, 2013
LOS ANGELES — AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Sunday that the slaughter of civilians in Syria is “deplorable” and hinted at possible union support for a more robust international response to the humanitarian crisis there.
On the opening day of the AFL-CIO’s quadrennial convention, Trumka said the labor giant had not yet taken a position on a potential military intervention in Syria. He said AFL-CIO executive council would debate the issue and “ultimately make a decision.”
But as Congress prepares to vote on a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Trumka expressed horror at the dictator’s use of weapons of mass destruction against his own people.
“Here’s what I do know: I know that there are over 100,000 people killed in Syria, and I know that each and every one of them was a tragedy,” Trumka said at a briefing, emphasizing the importance of aiding Syrians who have been displaced from their homes. “I know the international community is not responding effectively enough to help those people.”
He continued: “We also believe that the use of chemical weapons or any kind of weapons like that against your own people is a deplorable act.”
While the AFL-CIO typically focuses on economic issues, the labor movement’s stance on Syria – one way or another – could conceivably prove consequential as the White House seeks to round up Democratic votes for an intervention that has attracted little public support so far.
A.F.L.-C.I.O. Has Plan to Add Millions of Nonunion Members - NYTimes.com
September 6, 2013
“The crisis for labor has deepened,” Mr. Trumka said in an interview. “It’s at a point where we really must do something differently. We really have to experiment.”
By crisis, he means myriad setbacks, including a steady loss of union membership, frequent defeats in organizing drives and unions being forced to accept multiyear wage freezes. Not only have labor leaders faced the embarrassing enactment of anti-union legislation in onetime labor strongholds like Wisconsin and Michigan, but they could not even win passage of legislation making it easier to unionize when President Obama was elected and the Democrats controlled the House and Senate.
Here is what some industry stakeholders think the answer is:
PostCom Webinar: Will Postal Reform Be Delivered? [pdf]
Jessica Dauer Lowrance
Executive Vice President
September 5, 2013
Excerpts from above presentation:
(Click on pictures to enlarge)
Contact your Congressmen via
APWU Congressional Information Center
USPS postpones price increase decision - TheHill.com
September 5, 2013
"The Postal Service Governors met today at a regularly scheduled Board meeting. As part of the agenda, the Governors considered pricing issues, including the possibility of filing for price adjustments," the USPS said in a statement. "The Governors continue to listen to stakeholders and have postponed final pricing decisions until the next scheduled Board of Governors meeting, Sept. 24 – 25, 2013."
Lobbyists opposed to the increase had expected the Postal Service to seek as much as a 3 cent increase in the price of the 46 cent first-class stamp and a double digit increase in the average 27 cent cost of mailing magazines. The price increases would take place in January, if approved. ....
This is an excerpt from the 1 hour "The Labor Picture" September 3, 2013 show on RT hosted by Thom Hartman. The whole piece is a good watch (you can see that here) but this portion with NALC's Fredric Rolando may be of particular interest to Postal Workers.
Fix the real USPS problem - Trib.com
September 1, 2013
"Unfortunately, some lawmakers want to use the very financial crisis they helped bring to the USPS as a pretext for dismantling an institution relied on by millions of Americans and by small business owners. Instead of addressing pre-funding -- which they instituted and could fix, thereby actually addressing the source of the financial drain -- they want the public to take the hit. They advocate ending home mail delivery, which would force residents in Wyoming to traipse around the neighborhood to "cluster boxes" in all kinds of weather and safety conditions. And they seek to eliminate Saturday delivery, which would raise costs for small businesses that are open on weekends and would have to contract with expensive private carriers.
Folks in Wyoming and around the country deserve to maintain the service they've long relied on -- a letter carrier depositing their mail in their mailbox, six days a week. The impact of severe cuts goes even beyond this. The postal service, operating six days a week, is the centerpiece of a $1.3 trillion national mailing industry that employs 7.5 million Americans in the private sector -- including Wyoming. Besides hurting residents, small businesses and jobs, degrading service is counterproductive for the Postal Service itself. It would ultimately destroy the USPS by driving customers (and revenue) away. Remember, the Postal Service functions solely on the revenue it generates, not on taxpayer money."
Silent Fools - BurrusJournal.org
August 30, 2013
Over my lifelong experience with millions of human beings I accept the fact that, but for notable exceptions, human beings are very similar to each other. We all have ambition, feelings and passion, and in like circumstances can be expected to react similarly. This assumption belies the social reaction to universal health care and the debate over the Affordable Care Act. Polls reveal that a large percentage of Americans oppose universal health care, including those who have no health insurance and those who are limited by maximum lifetime health expenses. One would expect that this group of human beings would applaud any effort to expand coverage and provide them with preventive services that determine the quality and duration of their existence.
The Democrats routinely announce that 40 million Americans, including children are uninsured. This number has recently been reduced to 30 million, but whatever the number it’s a lot of people and one would expect that a population of this magnitude would express themselves in the debate. You would expect that they would form organizations demanding that as a matter of government policy, every citizen should have the right to medical care short of emergency services.
The Republicans have taken 40 votes to appeal Obama Care and deny these intelligent human beings preventive health care. They have been silent; not a single demonstration or expression of collective outrage that the government is proposing to take away their health care. I can understand the political zealots who oppose everything that Obama is for but the vast majority of those affected are just everyday people who have no ax to grind. One would think that an issue as important as health care would be at the top of their agenda, that they would flood the streets in protests equal to the outrage over the confiscation of guns. It just doesn’t make sense that so many average people would be so defensive about gun control and so silent about medical care.
This reaction by so many people challenges my theory that fundamentally we are all alike. There must be a trigger that drives irrational behavior. The enslavement of human beings existed in this country for 400 years even though the vast majority of white Americans never owned slaves and received no direct benefit from the enslavement of others. It elevated their status but the presence of slaves by the wealthy few did not put bread on their tables. Yet, it was these individuals who served as fodder in the most destructive war in the history of this country.
These irrational acts belie my assumption that all human beings are rational and will react similarly in similar situations. If there are in fact 30 or 40 million Americans who do not have health insurance and are silent as the Republicans publically announce their intent to take it away, they are not average human beings as I suspected, they are fools.
NALC responds to PMG’s workroom floor video - NALC.org
Aug. 30, 2013—Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe issued a video message on Aug. 14 that was played on the workroom floor. The video provided an assessment of developments in Washington on the legislative front and addressed the subject of a separate Postal Service health plan.
“In both cases, what the PMG did not say was more important than what he did say,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said.
On postal legislation, Donahoe said in the video that he was encouraged by the introduction of S. 1486 by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), which followed the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s passage of Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) postal bill in the House.
But what the PMG failed to note was that neither bill provides a real solution to the postal financial crisis. In fact, both bills would continue the mandate to massively pre-fund retiree health benefits (after a brief moratorium), and both would pay for that mandate by slashing service and jobs.
Both bills also call for elimination of Saturday and door delivery, at the cost of nearly 100,000 postal jobs, and for slower mail service, which would drive even more business away and deepen the USPS’ financial crisis.
“The PMG’s comment that there are some positive aspects in both bills is bizarrely beside the point,” Rolando remarked. “Sure, there are a number of individual provisions in the bills that are good in isolation—but both bills would hasten the destructive downsizing and service cuts we’ve faced for years, and both would attack the collective-bargaining rights of postal employees. ....
Trumka: ‘Mistakes’ made in ObamaCare - TheHill.com
August 29, 2013
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Thursday said “mistakes” were made in the writing of ObamaCare.
"He compared labor’s effort to win concessions on the health plans to business’s successful effort to convince the law’s mandate that certain employers offer health insurance for a year.
Labor angst over ObamaCare has grown, with several unions lobbying the administration to fix the law so that union “Taft-Hartley” healthcare plans qualify for tax subsidies.
Without that change, labor believes their members could lose their health coverage and be forced onto the ObamaCare insurance exchanges, which are set to open this October.
Unions are also worried that the law allows employers to not provide healthcare coverage to workers who work less than 30 hours per week. Trumka said companies could cut down on their employees’ work schedules to avoid providing health benefits.
“So that’s something that needs to be addressed. Is that an issue? Yeah, that’s an issue,” Trumka said."
POSTAL PROTEST: Workers Protesting Proposed Changes - WHOTV.com
August 30, 2013
Postal workers rallied Thursday night in Des Moines to protest two bills in Congress and set the record straight about their profitability. Postal workers said Congress wants to cut the wrong portion of the postal service budget. Protesters said unfair rules on retiree healthcare funding are to blame for postal shortfalls. Cutting back on deliveries will only make things worse, protesters argued.
APWU PRESIDENT GUFFEY ON HEALTHCARE -Congressional Testimony
The above is a link to the Playlist of 7 videos I created from the July 17, 2013 Congressional Testimony of APWU President Guffey, related to the healthcare issue in which he discussed negotiating a "Postal" health plan and shifting APWU Retirees to Medicare. Each video has the official source video information in the "About" section.
(this should make sharing this important information easier by having all relevant videos in one place for review)
If anyone remembers, the cause of the PO's financial woes was the 2006 postal "reform" act that was imposed on us by a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican President. Even though the GOP put the screws to us, with the deliberate intent of destroying the Post Office, our Unions, and our jobs, one-third of our members register and vote Republican. Forty percent of APWU members in a dozen battleground states voted for Romney even though he clearly stated his opposition to Unions. One third of our members voted for Republicans for the House and Senate. What could they possibly be thinking?
When our members vote for politicians who want to take away our jobs and bust our Union, it makes it much harder to get the attention of lawmakers. They can see that we are not politically involved and that we are no a serious threat to their schemes.
Every APWU member should vote only for pro-labor candidates - period!
If you don't know the candidates' stands on labor - find out! We shoud stop being distracted by nonsense like tax cuts or church issues. Our postal jobs and our postal Unions come first - then we can worry about the other stuff.
Contact your local Area Labor Federation - they'll tell you who the labor endorsed candidates are. It's really that important!
Christmas for Pat: A heartwarming tale in which everyone gets what they want — and then doesn’t - SaveThePostOffice.com
August 25, 2013
It’s August and Congress is on its annual five-week summer break. Despite statements by folks like Senator Tom Carper and Congressman Darrell Issa, we don’t seem to be any closer to postal reform than we’ve been for the last three years. Back in January, Senator Carper, who likes to use sports analogies, summed up the state of postal reform with a football metaphor: “I think we narrowed our differences…. In terms of negotiations, we’re in the red zone.”
Maybe we should switch sports to baseball. Rather than the game being almost over, it looks like we’re in for an extended rain delay. Very extended.
Christmas in August
When Congress returns from its break, it will have a lot to deal with besides postal reform. First off, it will need to take up the spending bills that fund the government for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1. That’s likely to degenerate into another protracted battle. Some of the more radical Republicans, like Senator Ted Cruz, have insisted that threatening to shut down the government would be a perfect opportunity to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. It’s likely the House and Senate will spend precious time arguing back and forth before they come up with a continuing resolution to keep the government going.
Also looming on the horizon is another battle over the debt ceiling. Who knows how much time that will waste? There are probably a few surprises on the horizon that will manage to chew up a few more news cycles. Before you know it, it will be time for Congress to take its traditional Christmas break.
Maybe by Christmas time Pat Donahoe and his friends on the Board of Governors will have brought this postal crisis to a head. CFO Joe Corbett keeps repeating his dire warnings about the Postal Service running out of cash. With the threat of an exigent rate increase being bandied about the industry, apoplectic lobbyists will be making sure every contribution counts. These days nothing is more likely to focus a Congressman’s or Senator’s attention than the promise of a contribution or the ability to proclaim himself or herself a hero for saving the public from another dreaded bailout.
So let’s pretend it’s Christmastime in Postal Land. Let’s pretend that the PMG has been a good boy all year, and Santa Darrell and St. Nick Carper are ready to bring him all the goodies he wants. What exactly does Pat want for Christmas? ....
Create A Moratorium On Closing Postal Facilities And Cutting Services Until A Reform Bill Has Been Passed By Congress
By APWU Member Jerry Stidman
To be delivered to: The United States House of Representatives,
The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama
"We demand the US Postal Service cease closing post offices of all sizes and keep current service levels. We want the postal service to continue six day delivery of all mail. We demand Congress establish an immediate moratorium of any downsizing of any type until a new postal reform bill has been passed. This bill should include repealing the requirement to prefund 75 years of retiree healthcare benefits in a 10 year window at $5.5 billion dollars a year."
Postal Workers Picket - WICS.com
August 21, 2013
Congressional leaders are on break until September, which is why postal workers who picketed at the post office on Cook Street in Springfield Tuesday believe now is the perfect time to get their attention. Most of the postal employees who came say they just want peace of mind--the promise today for a better tomorrow.
"Right now the postal service is backing a bill that will allow closures and allow privatization," union member and postal employee Jim O'Connel said.
The picketers want Congress to vote yes to SB 316 and HR 630. The postal reform bills would end the mandate that requires the post office to pre-fund healthcare for future retirees.
"$5 billion for every year in a 10-year window," O'Connel said. "The Congress that put that--enacted that legislation, had to know that was going to put some undue pressure that no other business has put on them."
While the picketers there Tuesday say it's been hard on the US Postal Service, they say things have been especially hard on postal employees.
"I hope their voices will be heard," Terri Brake said. "I really don't know how much of an effect it'll have on it. But I hope they will be heard."
She wanted to work for 30 years, but retired from the post office at 28 and a half. Now her concern--like that of others--is for those still working for the US Postal Service.
"It's always an uncertainty, and that's why we always ban together to help our other union brothers and sisters," Dena McGill, VP of AFSCME 2600, said. "What happens to them eventually affects us."
The rally Tuesday was unique to the Springfield area, but lawmakers don't go back to D.C. for several more weeks. Between now and then, more of these pickets are likely to pop up all across the country.
The War on Workers - BurrusJournal.org
August 19, 2013
Mark Jamison reviews the struggle between capital and labor and how it has affected postal employment. This struggle will not be won by labor unions or individuals who expose the manipulation of the political system by corporate interest; it requires the investment of average working people whose interests have been channeled to embrace the evils of capitalism. This is a must read for all those who believe that there should be fair distribution of proceeds generated from the efforts of the masses.
GAO-13-658, Jul 18, 2013
U.S. Postal Service: Proposed Health Plan Could Improve Financial Condition, but Impact on Medicare and Other Issues Should Be Weighed before Approval
GAO Report Highlights (2 pages) [pdf]
GAO Full Report (72 pages) [pdf]
What GAO Found
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) would likely realize large financial gains from its proposed health care plan, primarily by increasing retirees’ use of Medicare. Specifically, USPS estimates that its plan would reduce its retiree health benefit liability by $54.6 billion, thereby eliminating its unfunded retiree health benefit liability. The plan would also reduce USPS’s required total annual health care payments by an estimated $7.8 billion in the first year of implementation and by $33.2 billion over the first 5 years of implementation. USPS also projects that relative to the total annual health care payments it would expect to make (reflecting its stated inability to make prefunding payments to fund retiree health benefits), its new plan would reduce its payments by $2.1 billion in the first year of implementation and $12.4 billion over 5 years. USPS also projects that its plan would increase the more than $550 billion that the federal government spends annually for Medicare by $1.0 billion in the first year and an average of about $1.3 billion annually in the first 5 years of its health plan—about 0.2 percent of Medicare’s annual costs. GAO has previously reported that Medicare is on a fiscally unsustainable path over the long term. Additional costs resulting from USPS’s proposed plan would also have to be weighed alongside the fiscal pressure already faced by Medicare, but these costs have not been evaluated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Some elements of USPS’s proposal would add uncertainties that could reduce funds available for its employees’ and retirees’ future health care.
• Investment of Health Plan Assets: One of USPS’s proposed options for investing health plan assets would increase the risk exposure of these assets by allowing investments in assets other than Treasury securities, such as stocks, as well as commodities, foreign currency, and other investments. If fund assets were invested in non-Treasury securities (including $46 billion that would be transferred under this option from the current Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund), the fund may experience losses in a market downturn and would thus have reduced assets available for health care. The presence of non-Treasury securities in the portfolio would also raise issues as to the appropriate discount rate for determining prefunding targets for retiree health benefits.
• Transfer of Surplus Funds: USPS’s proposed option to transfer health fund assets to use for purposes other than health benefits, when assets supporting the USPS health plan exceed liabilities, is not fiscally prudent. If USPS were to consistently exercise this option to help maintain its financial solvency, it could result in an unfunded liability for retiree health benefits.
• Selection of Assumptions: Liability measurements are very sensitive to assumptions, and there can be professional disagreements over assumptions. USPS’s proposal could potentially allow for the use of overly optimistic assumptions, which could lead to inadequate funding for the health plan over time. This potential could be reduced by having assumptions selected by an independent third party.
Under USPS’s health care plan as designed for year one, USPS employees and retirees would have coverage for a similar set of inpatient, outpatient, and prescription drug services as under selected Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) plans, which account for over 75 percent of postal enrollment in FEHBP. USPS’s proposed plan would also offer similar levels of coverage for many services, with some exceptions (e.g., services received outside of USPS’s approved network). GAO estimated that at least 63 percent of postal enrollees in the selected FEHBP plans would pay similar or lower premiums under the USPS plan, but some employees and retirees could have higher total costs—premiums and out-of-pocket costs for the use of care—due in part to differences in deductibles and maximum spending limits. Also, employees and retirees may need to change providers and would have many but not all the same protections around benefits and costs under the USPS plan as in FEHBP. For example, postal retirees would no longer have the assurance that USPS’s contribution to the cost of health benefits would be fixed by law as it is within FEHBP.
A USPS withdrawal from FEHBP would reduce the program’s enrollment by an estimated 25 percent. Despite the significant change in enrollment, most nonpostal enrollees would likely not be affected by a USPS withdrawal beyond what selected FEHBP plan representatives expect to be small increases or decreases in premiums. However, USPS’s withdrawal could lead the small number of FEHBP plans with primarily postal enrollment to withdraw from the program, which would result in an estimated 29,000 (of over 3 million) nonpostal enrollees having to select a new health plan.
Why GAO Did This Study
USPS has asked Congress to help restore its financial viability in part by enacting its proposal to create a USPS health care plan outside of FEHBP. This would result in the withdrawal of all postal employees and retirees (about 1 million people) from FEHBP. Under its proposal, USPS’s and postal employees’ and retirees’ share of premiums would first be established by USPS and then, for union-covered employees, in collective bargaining. USPS employee groups oppose or have concerns about USPS’s proposal.
GAO was asked to review USPS’s proposed health care plan. This report discusses how the plan could affect 1) USPS’s financial condition, 2) postal employees’ and retirees’ benefits and costs, and 3) FEHBP and non-postal enrollees. GAO analyzed USPS and FEHBP data and interviewed officials from USPS, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), OMB, Treasury, CMS, employee groups, and FEHBP plans.
Related video clips of APWU President Guffey's Congressional Testimony from source video at
• APWU President Guffey on "new" Health Plan creation
• APWU President Guffey on Retirees Health Plan Part 1
• APWU President Guffey on Retirees Health Plan Part 2
• Postal Service’s financial plan: Make Medicare pay our bills - WashingtonExaminer.com
• Proposed USPS healthcare shift could add slight strain to Medicare - TheHill.com
• USPS Plan to Pull Out of Fed Health Benefits Could Cost Postal Workers - GovExec.com
• Postal health plan would save USPS money, but workers could pay the price - WashingtonPost.com
Issa to blame for postal woes - HeraldStarOnline.com
August 18, 2013
To the editor:
It appears that the House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., cannot keep his nose out of the Postal Service business.
Issa is the main player in this tragedy. He is trying to cut 100,000 jobs from the United States Postal Service and cripple postal workers right to collective bargaining. Issa is introducing the Postal Reform Act of 2013 in the House Of Representatives.
This act would cripple the Postal Service. It will eliminate Saturday deliveries and door-to-door service for millions of Americans. But, here's the real up yours to the American public by Issa. The Postal Service doesn't need to cut jobs or eliminate services. What it needs is to end the disastrous pre-funding mandate, which requires the Postal Service to guarantee retiree health care and pension benefits for 75 years.
The Republican Congress is demanding that the Postal Service provide something they are strongly against, universal health care. Congress, in 2006, passed into law the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act, which mandated the Postal Service would have to fully fund retiree benefits for future retirees. The act meant that every Sept. 30, the USPS had to pay $5.5 billion to the Treasury for the refunding of future retirees health plans. The Postal Service is funding the retirement packages of people who haven't been born yet. This is a Bush-era mandate that no other government or private company is forced to do.
The Postal Service is older than the Constitution itself. It is not paid for by taxpayers dollars, but rather fully funded by the sale of stamps. What we have is a service that caters primarily to the economically disadvantaged and employs more than 575,000 union members. A few years ago the USPS was considered not only stable, but thriving. Crippling one of the last great public services would be quite a feat for Issa.
What it’s all about: The war on workers goes to the post office
August 14, 2013
What if the postal crisis we’ve read about over the last five years isn’t really about saving the Postal Service after all? What if the story really isn’t about an archaic Federal agency struggling to find a business plan in the face of technological change? Could the real story be much simpler than that?
Maybe the real story is about changing the basic relationship between employers and employees in the one sector of our economy where employees have been able to maintain decent wages and benefits. ....
Quarterly report: USPS finances are rebounding strongly as economy improves - NALC.org
August 9, 2013—Statement from Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, about today’s Postal Service financial report for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2013:
The Postal Service’s latest quarterly report makes clear that its finances are rebounding strongly as the U.S. economy improves.
Although it reported a loss of $740 million, the agency would have reported a profit of $660 million absent the $1.4 billion payment it was charged for pre-funding future retiree health benefits—a bill no other company or agency in the country is required to pay. Operating revenue is up 3.6 percent compared to the same period last year.
That good operating picture was fueled by a sharp 8.8 percent rise in package delivery revenue from online orders, which offset the effect of online bill-paying, as well as by workers' compensation interest adjustments.
The sharp improvement over 2012 reflects the fact that the opportunities offered by the Internet (delivering goods ordered online) increasingly are offsetting Internet challenges (online bill-paying), which augurs well for the future.
All of the Postal Service red ink for the entire year to date stems from an external political factor: the 2006 congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits, which no other entity in the country is required to do.
Given this, it makes no sense to degrade service or dismantle a network that is performing well and that provides Americans and businesses with the world's most affordable delivery network.
The congressional priority should be to address the actual source of red ink: the $5.5 billion annual pre-funding albatross that is hampering the Postal Service. This mandate is not only onerous, it is unnecessary, because the Postal Service already has put aside sufficient money to meet the needs of future retirees for decades to come. Few, if any, companies can say the same.
The path to profitability is clear: Address the pre-funding fiasco and give the Postal Service the freedom to innovate and grow in the digital era. Do not eliminate Saturday delivery, which would raise costs for small businesses open weekends, and do not force people to traipse around their neighborhood looking for cluster boxes. Such steps would inconvenience the public and would destroy the Postal Service by driving mail—and revenue—out of the system.
The latest financial results should finally convince Congress to deliver a postal reform plan that eliminates pre-funding; strengthens and protects the existing Postal Service network; provides a more business-oriented governance structure; and frees the Postal Service to meet evolving customer needs in the digital era. Unfortunately, the advancing House legislation and the recently introduced Senate bill fail to achieve these goals.
USPS actions help lower third quarter loss to $740 million
Postal reform legislation needed to close $20 billion gap
August 9, 2013
USPS ended the third quarter of its 2013 fiscal year (April 1 – June 30) with a net loss of $740 million, increasing the year-to-date net loss to $3.9 billion.
Aggressive Postal Service actions to contain costs and increase efficiency prevented the financial loss from being greater. However, the Postal Service will not return to profitability and long-term financial stability without passage of comprehensive legislation to fix a business model that does not allow it to adapt to changes in the marketplace.
“We are encouraged that comprehensive postal reform legislation has started making its way through the legislative process in both the House and Senate,” said PMG Pat Donahoe. “We continue to evaluate the current legislation based on whether it enables $20 billion in savings by 2017.”
"The Postal Service also continues to implement efficiency measures and continues actions to better align staffing levels with projected mail volume. In the first nine months of the current fiscal year:
• 104 mail processing facilities were consolidated.
• 7,397 Post Offices reduced operating hours as part of Post Plan.
• 258 new Village Post Offices were established.
• 1,156 delivery routes were consolidated or reduced.
• Career employee work hours were reduced by approximately 41 million.
• Non-career employee work hours increased by approximately 30 million.
Comparing third quarter and year-to-date operating results to the same period last year (SPLY), total mail volume was down from 38.3 billion pieces to 37.9 billion."
Postal Service Actions to Improve Efficiency Help To Lower Third Quarter Loss
August 09, 2013
Release No. 13-063
• Postal Reform Legislation Key Component to Close $20 Billion Gap
• Aggressive Cost Reduction Actions Can’t Fully Offset Impact of Declining First-Class Mail Volumes
• Continued Growth in Package Business Highlights Value of Postal Service Shipping Services
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service ended the third quarter of its 2013 fiscal year (April 1 – June 30) with a net loss of $740 million, increasing the year-to-date net loss to $3.9 billion. Aggressive Postal Service actions to contain costs and increase efficiency, along with a decrease in workers’ compensation expense due to fluctuations of discount rates, prevented the financial loss from being greater. However, the Postal Service will not return to profitability and long-term financial stability without passage of comprehensive legislation to fix a business model that does not allow it to adapt to changes in the marketplace. ....
Between a Rock and a Hard Place - BurrusJournal.org
August 8, 2013
Postal unions and American citizens who rely upon secure and trusty mail delivery can thank Senator Carper, a Democrat for putting them in a position to oppose any postal legislation in this session of Congress. The House under the leadership of Chairman Issa has already voted a Bill out of Committee that is totally unacceptable. Now Carper is doing the bidding of the major mailers in his state and has produced an equally offensive piece of legislation for consideration in the Senate. Carper is Chairman of the Committee of jurisdiction on this issue and while efforts may be undertaken to consider significant amendments or substitute legislation, little time and effort should be devoted to this extremely long shot. The simple fact is that the support of the Chairman is needed.
Much time and effort has to be devoted to preventing a vote for bad legislation, and if necessary a presidential veto but at the end of that process no matter the outcome the Postal Service is in dire need of a source of revenue that can only come from legislation. It is too late in the game to hope for Substitute legislation by a friendly Senator or Representative or to generate letters, emails or telephone calls. The only Bills that will be voted on will contain poison pills, and while it is not beyond the influence of the unions and their supporters to block a vote in this session of Congress that would leave the Postal Service high and dry for a source of needed revenue at the end of the fiscal year.
Mail volume, specifically parcels, has experienced needed growth and Standard mail has stabilized but the savings promised from new labor agreements will not be fully realized until the pre 2011 workers are phased out and are fully replaced by a lower paid work force. Absent legislation that generates immediate financial relief, the only options remaining are a rate increase and the phase out of rate discounts. The postmaster general has estimated that between $14 billion and $18 billion is lost annually to rate discounts and this source of revenue dwarfs any other target of relief on the immediate horizon. The mailers will scream to high heaven but the unions have chipped in with new pay scales, plant consolidations has slowed service but few options remain to close the fiscal gap beyond new sources of revenue. Much focus has been placed on the health care payment but whether or not it is addressed in legislation, it is not a factor in the financial crunch at the end of the fiscal year because the Postal Service has not paid it over the past two years and will not pay it this year with or without legislation.
Decisions must be made about the revenue needed to survive this fiscal year and the source of those funds, absent postal reform. The unions representing the 450,000 employees and the American public are entitled to a true accounting of the USPS’ finances that they can make informed decisions about postal stability and legislation. This is between a rock and a hard place.
August 8, 2013
Dear Mr. Zelznick,
Thank you for contacting me about the Postal Reform Act of 2013 (H.R. 2748). I appreciate hearing from you.
I value knowing your views about reforms at USPS. As you may know, Representative Darrell Issa introduced H.R. 2748 on July 19, 2013. Among its provisions, H.R. 2748 will modify Saturday delivery and phase out doorstep delivery of mail. I understand your concern about the effect of these changes. That being said, although I believe it is important that USPS be preserved, we must do so in a fiscally responsible way that allows it to truly thrive moving forward and not be a burden on taxpayers. I therefore look forward to advancing reforms at USPS that will put it on a stable financial footing. Please be assured I will keep your concerns in mind should this measure come before the Senate.
Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania
Undermining the Union in the Legislative Arena – More Concessions from APWU President Guffey
An article by APWU Member Clint Burelson
August 6, 2013
The Senate and the House are both considering bills that if passed would radically accelerate the dismantling of the Postal Service. APWU President Cliff Guffey recently made concessionary remarks that indicated APWU compliance for Congress to take more away from postal workers and further reduce service to the American public. Therefore, as a union, we will have to work even harder to overcome President Guffey’s damaging remarks in order to defeat these bills. (Note: As this article was about to be published, the four major postal unions wrote a joint letter to Senator Harry Reid objecting to the Senate bill where Democrats have a majority. President Guffey signed the joint letter, which helps to make up for his previous concessions to Congress.)
At the recent hearing, on July 17, 2013, held by the full committee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, President Guffey testified that he thought postage discounts to the large mailers were appropriate and in response to questioning from Republican Darrell Issa (CA), the Chairman of the Committee, President Guffey expressed agreement with the large mailers, the Postmaster General, and Issa, that the least desirable option of all the proposed postal reforms is to raise postage rates. A review of past hearing comments by President Guffey show similar concessions. ....
Dear Mr. Zelznick:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the financial health of the United States Postal Service. I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.
The Postal Service faces a deteriorating financial situation. From 2007 through 2011, the Postal Service lost $25.4 billion. Last year, they lost a record $15.9 billion. The Postal Service's Inspector General has warned that the agency may run out of funds as soon as October 2013.
In an attempt to reduce costs, the Postal Service announced earlier this year its intention to end the delivery of first-class mail on Saturdays beginning this August. In March, Congress passed legislation temporarily requiring the Postal Service to continue providing 6-day delivery. The Postal Service has since announced that they are halting their plans to end Saturday delivery.
Beyond the issue of Saturday delivery, Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont has introduced legislation to broadly reform the Postal Service. As a cosponsor of this legislation, the Postal Service Protection Act of 2013, I believe it would take a number of steps to improve the Postal Service’s finances, including allowing the Postal Service to reclaim overpayments to its employee pension fund and changing the way the Postal Service funds its retiree health benefits. This legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, of which I am not a member. Please be assured that I will be working with my colleagues to make the reforms needed to preserve the Postal Service and the crucial role it plays in our economy.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.
For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov. I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.
United States Senator
P.S. If you would like to respond to this message, please use the contact form on my website: http://casey.senate.gov/contact/
APWU News Bulletin 11-2013, Aug. 5, 2013
Next Step in APWU’s TV Ad Campaign
The APWU has launched the next phase of its television ad campaign, with spots airing on NBC Nightly News, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.
In early July, the APWU aired an ad that helps dispel the myth that the USPS is supported by tax dollars.
At the end of the month, the union began airing a second commercial that explains — in just 30 seconds — the true cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis. The spot quickly identified the problem — a 2006 law that imposes a $5 billion annual burden on the USPS that no other agency or company bears. The ad concludes with a simple message, “Congress created this problem and Congress can fix it.”
The ads have helped change the terms of the debate about the USPS financial crisis. “But we must continue to press our message with legislators, the media, and the American people,” Guffey said. “Our members must ask their senators and representatives to endorse the Postal Service Protection Act (H.R. 630/S. 316),” Guffey said, “which would help solve the USPS financial crisis without hurting workers or downgrading mail service. We also should seek support for the Protect Overnight Delivery Act (H.R. 2459), which would help safeguard mail processing centers.”
APWU Web News Article 092-2013, Aug. 5, 2013
In Letter to Senate Majority Leader,
Postal Unions Seethe Over Carper-Coburn Bill
The four postal unions sent a joint letter [pdf] to Senate Majority Harry Reid on Aug. 5 expressing “utter dismay” at the introduction of S. 1486, the postal bill co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The bill continues the disastrous policy of mandating massive pre-funding of retiree health benefits and provides for major downsizing measures to pay for it, the letter notes.
To afford pre-funding costs, “The Carper-Coburn bill would give the USPS tools to slash postal employees’ pension and health benefits by making these federal employee benefits subject to interest arbitration,” the presidents of the APWU, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association said.
“Our unions were not consulted about these proposed major changes to our rights as federal employees or to our collective bargaining process,” the letter points out.
S. 1486 would facilitate the dismantling of the Postal Service’s mail processing, retail and delivery networks, and would seriously harm the 7.5 million Americans who work in private companies that rely on the USPS, the union presidents wrote. ...
"The APWU has called on locals and state organizations to meet with lawmakers during Congress’ August recess to discuss postal reform. Together with members of the Mail Handlers Union, APWU members will ask legislators to oppose the Carper-Coburn bill as well as the House bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (H.R. 2748). Union members will ask members of Congress to support the Postal Service Protection Act (S. 316 in the Senate / H.R. 630 in the House). Members of the NALC and NRLCA will also talk to lawmakers during the recess."
Postal unions write joint letter to Reid
against Carper-Coburn postal bill - NALC.org
August 5, 2013—Today, the presidents of the four postal employee unions—the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union—sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “to express our utter dismay with the introduction of S. 1486 on August 1,” a postal bill introduced by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) that “renews a commitment to the disastrous Bush administration policy to mandate massive pre-funding of future retiree health benefits and provides for major downsizing measures to pay for it.”
Click here to download a PDF of this letter.
Senator Carper introduces legislation to virtually end the USPS - NHLaborNews.com
August 4, 2013
Democratic Senator Tom Carper has moved the Postal Service one big step closer to extinction this weekend by introducing his new Postal Reform Act S 1486. Mr Carper a long time ally of wealthy corporate interests intends to drive the stake into the heart of the worlds best Postal Service. His bill on many levels closely resembles Congressman Issa’s HR 2748 which passed out of a House committee 10 days ago on a party line vote, with only GOP support.
Carper’s S 1486 will allow the elimination of Saturday delivery in just one year. That itself will put the USPS in a death spiral. Cutting service is clearly not the way to compete in a 21st economy. Cutting 16% of the USPS services to save at most 3% of the budget doesn’t seem to be a rational strategy. Saving any money itself is in question as studies have shown that losing Saturday delivery would reduce mail volume by 7.7% that itself would result in a revenue loss of $5.3 Billion far exceeding the money projected to be saved by cutting a day of delivery. ....
Proposal to Reduce Fed Workers’ Comp Benefits Attached to Postal Bill - GovExec.com
August 2, 2103
A provision in bipartisan Senate postal reform legislation would overhaul workers’ compensation policies for all federal employees.
"The new plan would trim the benefit to 50 percent of an employee’s salary, once that employee is eligible for retirement. Additional compensation for dependents would no longer be provided." ....
The Senate does postal reform: Highlights and low points of the Carper-Coburn bill
August 3, 2013
Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have introduced their version of postal reform legislation, the Postal Reform Act of 2013, a.k.a. PRA and S.1486. A summary is here, and the whole bill is here.
The new bill contains several changes from the earlier Senate bill, S.1789, that should bring the House and Senate closer together and make the passage of legislation more likely. In that sense, there’s been some progress, but unfortunately, it’s mostly in the wrong direction. ....
Postal reform bill finds $6B surplus in retirement plans - FederalNewsRadio.com
August 2, 2013
Changes to the way the Office of Personnel Management calculates how postal employees pay into their retirement plans could help the U.S. Postal Service dig itself out of debt by generating a $6 billion surplus.
That's one of the highlights of the new Senate postal reform bill.
The bipartisan Postal Reform Act of 2013 (S. 1486), introduced Thursday night by Chairman Tom Carper (D- Del.) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, aims to help USPS to pay down some of the $15.9 billion it owes the Treasury in outstanding debt.
USPS also has to address the congressionally mandated payment of $5 billion-plus it must make to the Treasury before Fiscal Year 2013 ends on Sept. 30.
Highlights of the Postal Reform Act (PRA) of 2013:
Pension Reforms: The PRA would require that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) use data in determining how much the Postal Service must pay into the two federal pension programs – the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) – that more accurately reflects the amount of the Postal Service’s projected liability, in light of differences between the postal and non-postal federal workforces. This reform is expected to reduce the amount the Postal Service pays into both FERS and CSRS and to result in a Postal Service FERS surplus. The Postal Service would be permitted to request and receive up to $6 billion of any surplus, which could be spent to retire Postal Service debt and give it needed liquidity.
In addition, the bill would allow the Postal Service and postal unions to bargain over the extent of new postal employees’ participation in FERS and the Thrift Savings Program (TSP).
Health Care Reforms: The PRA would eliminate the Postal Service’s statutory retiree health pre-funding and replace it with a less aggressive 40-year amortization of the Postal Service’s retiree health liability. This provision, combined with language allowing premiums for current retirees to come out of the account containing health care funds that the Postal Service has already pre-funded, could reduce the Postal Service’s total retiree health costs by roughly half. Those costs could be reduced even further through the implementation of provisions in the PRA requiring that 1) health plans be created to meet the needs of postal retirees enrolled in Medicare parts A and B, some of whom currently purchase full Medicare and Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) coverage; and 2) postal retirees not enrolled in Medicare be given the opportunity to do so penalty-free. Participation in Medicare parts A and B and these new health plans would be voluntary, but these two provisions are expected to increase Medicare enrollment among postal retirees and significantly reduce the Postal Service’s long-term retiree health liabilities.
In addition, the PRA would also allow the Postal Service and the postal unions to bargain over the creation of a new health plan for postal employees, either within or outside of FEHBP.
• The Postal Service last year proposed a service standard change for certain classes of mail that would have largely eliminated the overnight delivery of mail and led to the closure or consolidation of a significant number of mail processing plants. The PRA would place a moratorium on service standard changes and plant closings for two years, keeping all plants open as of the date of enactment in operation for the duration of the moratorium.
• The PRA would codify the Postal Service’s current plan to find savings in its retail operations without closing post offices.
• The PRA would preserve Saturday delivery for at least a year.
• The PRA would require the Postal Service to use the most cost effective means of mail delivery, requiring centralized or curbside delivery for new addresses and business addresses. It would also require the Postal Service to seek to convert residential addresses from door delivery to centralized or curbside delivery on a voluntary basis.
Revenue and Innovation
• The PRA would streamline the current rate-setting process, giving the Postal Service more authority to set prices on its own while preserving a more flexible CPI rate cap until 2016, when the rate cap would expire.
• The PRA would give the Postal Service enhanced authority to innovate and introduce new non-postal products that take advantage of its retail and mail processing, transportation, and delivery network.
• The PRA would authorize the Postal Service to offer services on behalf of federal, state, or local government agencies.
• The Postal Service is prohibited under current law from shipping beer, wine, and distilled spirits. The PRA would lift this prohibition and allow the Postal Service to deliver beer, wine and distilled spirits under the same rules as private sector shippers.
Federal Workers Compensation Reform
The PRA contains the Workers Compensation Act of 2013, which reforms the workers' compensation program for federal employees who are injured on the job. The Act would bring compensation levels for older workers more in line with retirement benefits, strengthen programs for helping injured workers get back on the job, make other updates and improvements.
APWU Web News Article 092-2013, Aug. 2, 2013
APWU: Senate Postal Bill
Betrays Workers, American People
The leaders of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), introduced postal legislation on Aug. 1, just before Congress adjourned for a five-week recess.
The APWU is reviewing the 194-page bill (S. 1486) [pdf] and will provide a more complete analysis of the legislation once the review is complete. But after a quick review, President Cliff Guffey said, “This bill is fatally flawed. It betrays the working men and women of the United States Postal Service; it slashes service to the American people, and it fails to protect the USPS from the impending financial disaster Congress set in motion in 2006 with the passage of the PAEA.”
Feds give laid-off Boeing workers a big helping hand - SeattleTimes.com
July 31, 2013
Local Boeing workers who’ve lost their jobs will receive substantial additional federal unemployment benefits after two unions at the company sought aid under a program for employees laid off due to outsourcing and foreign trade.
Thanks to a federal program lined up by their unions, local workers laid off during the current dip in employment at Boeing Commercial Airplanes will enjoy a financial cushion that’s much, much plumper than what the average unemployed state resident gets.
“Compared to what Joe Worker gets when they get laid off, our members have a pretty extensive safety net,” said Connie Kelliher, spokeswoman for the International Association of Machinists (IAM).
The U.S. Department of Labor has approved Boeing workers — union or nonunion, production workers or engineers — laid off between April 2012 and June 2015 for a package of benefits that includes drawing unemployment pay for up to 2½ years, rather than the regular six months.
The Labor Department ruling also means that if laid-off Boeing workers need to travel, say to California, for a job interview, the government will reimburse 90 percent of the costs.
If they relocate for a new job, the government will pay 90 percent of their moving expenses and provide an additional lump-sum relocation allowance of up to $1,250.
While unemployed, they’ll also get a tax credit for nearly three-quarters of their health-care premiums. And they’re eligible for a grant of up to $25,000 toward the cost of a degree.
And for those workers over 50, if they have to take a lower-paid job after leaving Boeing, the government will provide up to $10,000 over two years in supplementary pay to make up some of the difference.
One More Way Banks Screw Regular People
(And Why We Need to Bring Back Postal Banking) - HuffingtonPost.com
August 1, 2013
I believe in personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is at the core of progressive philosophy. Progressives believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed, and that people should have to work for their success. What separates us from the Ayn Rand Republicans in our midst is our recognition that, sometimes, people work hard and still don't succeed. It happens. Such people don't deserve to be cast aside on to the scrap heap, condemned as a loser or a taker, and left to rot. Liberals also believe in second chances (no, this post isn't about Anthony Weiner), and we believe in putting resources toward providing people with those second and, yes, even third chances to succeed through their hard work. The problem is, the banks just don't agree with us.
"Imagine that. Offering a service to those who can't get it, providing more good, union jobs at the postal service, and shoring up the USPS's finances to boot. All while doing something the commercial, for-profit banking industry doesn't seem to want to do."
Congressional Research Service Report for Congress:
The U.S. Postal Service’s Financial Condition: A Primer [pdf]
Kevin R. Kosar
Analyst in American and National Government
July 24, 2013
Here is an idea. We assess $1.00 per pay period per member. We use the $5 million to get our enemies out of office. Lets see Issa, Ryan....
Maybe after we start taking the leadership out the rest will get the message. And maybe we should investigate how a member of congress amasses such a fortune.
House Bill On Post Office Unfair To Rurals, Critics Say - MVProgress.com
July 31, 2013
In an attempt to alleviate some of the financial woes plaguing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), a bill has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives which would implement various cost-savings measures, prevent another general fund bailout and bring the cash-strapped agency to financial stability. The Postal Reform Act of 2013 (H.R. 2748), presented by Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), passed out of Committee last Wednesday by a 22-7 vote split along party lines. It is now expected to go to the floor of the House for a vote.
But critics of the bill say that most of the pain of the bill’s cost-cutting measures would hit rural residents the hardest.
President Obama Announces Another Key Administration Post - WhiteHouse.gov
July 25, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key Administration post:
•Tony Hammond – Commissioner, Postal Regulatory Commission
Tony Hammond has been a Commissioner on the Postal Regulatory Commission since his appointment in 2012. He previously served on the Postal Regulatory Commission and its predecessor agency, the Postal Rate Commission, from 2002 to 2011. During his tenure, he was twice elected as Vice Chairman of the Commissions. Previously, Mr. Hammond was owner and managing member of T. Hammond Company, LLC, a private consulting firm. In addition, he was Senior Vice President of the direct marketing firm FL&S, and Senior Consultant to Forbes 2000, Inc. From 1994 to 1999, he worked at the Republican National Committee, where he was Political Director during his last two years at the Committee. From 1989 to 1994, he was Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. Mr. Hammond served for ten years on the staff of then-Southwest Missouri Congressman Gene Taylor, the ranking member of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee. Mr. Hammond received a B.S. from Missouri State University.
Senate panel approves Tester study of rural mail service changes - Tester.senate.gov
July 26, 2013
(BIG SANDY, Mont.) - Senator Jon Tester this week won approval for his measure to require the government to determine how reductions in rural mail delivery standards are affecting Montana communities.
The Postal Service last year cut certain delivery programs in rural states like Montana, claiming the change would save the agency money and not hurt delivery service standards. But there have been no studies to back up the Postal Service's claims - or to determine how communities in rural America are affected by the change.
Tester's measure will require the government's top watchdog to get to the bottom of the issue. Tester sits on the Senate's Appropriations Committee, which approved his amendment unanimously.
Amid $16B in losses, Congress proposes changes for the Postal Service - CBSNews.com
July 27, 2013
(CBS News) NEW YORK - Mail service as all of us know it could be headed for some historic change. With $16 billion in losses last year, Congress is looking to cut costs.
The latest congressional proposal could radically change your mail service. On the table: ending both door-to-door and Saturday letter delivery.
"But postal union official Chuck Zlatkin said the financial crisis is overblown, and that Congress is just trying to privatize the business."I would say that this bill is really a road map to destroy the Postal Service as we know it," he said."
NM-Sen: Tom Udall (D) Introduces Legislation
To Reauthorize Key Native American Housing Bill - DailyKos.com
July 26, 2013
"The bill funds a wide range of federal agencies and priorities, including an assurance that the U.S. Postal Service will continue delivering mail six days a week, according to a news release issued by Udall’s office."
USPS News Link - Legislative update
July 25, 2013
USPS issues statement on Postal Reform Act of 2013
USPS has responded to the Postal Reform Act of 2013, which was approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Wednesday and sent to the full House of Representatives for further action.
The Postal Service said in a prepared statement, “We thank the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for recognizing the urgent need for comprehensive postal reform legislation by voting the Postal Reform Act of 2013 out of committee.”
The statement adds, “We will evaluate the Postal Reform Act of 2013 to determine whether it meets that goal. The Postal Service looks forward to working with Chairman [Darrell] Issa and the committee to improve the bill as it makes its way through the legislative process.”
In his July 17 testimony before the committee, PMG Pat Donahoe said postal reform legislation should be evaluated on whether it results in $20 billion in savings for USPS by 2017.
APWU News Bulletin 010-2013, July 25, 2013
House Panel Approves Rep. Issa’s Postal Bill
Union Says: Tell Congress to Vote ‘No’
“If it is enacted, this bill will lead to the demise of the Postal Service,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “I call upon all APWU members to contact their U.S. representatives and urge them to vote ‘no’ when the bill is brought before the full House.
“The bill would punish postal workers and deprive the American people of vital services,” said Guffey. “It would subvert the Postal Service’s mission by privatizing major portions of USPS operations.”
APWU Web News Article 088-2013, July 24, 2013
House Panel Approves Issa Bill
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved a postal bill introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on July 24, by a vote of 22 to 17. The vote was along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor of the measure and all Democrats voting against it. All amendments submitted by Democrats were defeated by the same margin. Voting concluded at approximately 8:15 p.m.
Notes from the Markup of H.R. 2748, The Postal Reform Act of 2013 - PostCom.org
July 24, 2013
Cummings: No Dem votes expected for Issa postal plan - TheHill.com
July 23, 2013
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Tuesday that he does not expect any Democratic colleagues to back a Republican bill to revamp the U.S. Postal Service.
The Oversight panel is scheduled to mark up Chairman Darrell Issa’s measure on Wednesday, after the California Republican toned down some of his proposals from the last Congress.
But Cummings told The Hill on Tuesday that, without pretty significant changes, Issa’s postal plan will once again have to pass the committee without Democratic votes.
“I think we’ll have a good discussion,” Cummings said. “But I think in the end, it’s going to be very difficult.”
Business Community Praises Postal Legislative Progress - PRNewswire.com
Endorses the Postal Reform Act of 2013, HR 2748
WASHINGTON, July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (C21) which broadly represents the nation's $1.3 trillion business mailing and supplying community, that employs nearly 8 million private sector workers, announced its support today for H. R. 2748 introduced by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa.
"The Coalition is particularly pleased that Chairman Issa has maintained the rate structure approved in 2006 which allows the Postal Service to increase rates at the class level by the Consumer Price Index without costly litigation. This provision has enabled mailers to predict and plan for rate increases and has helped preserve business in a challenging market," said coalition co-manager Art Sackler.
Union slams House GOP postal bill - TheHill.com
July 22, 29013
A leading postal union came out swinging Monday against a new House GOP proposal, calling it “deeply disturbing” and urging lawmakers to vote against it.
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa’s latest legislation, released Friday, dials back or eliminates past proposals that were unpopular with Democrats and unions, as the California Republican casts a broader net for support.
But top leaders at the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said Monday that the legislation falls short on collective bargaining issues and service standards for the cash-strapped Postal Service, in a letter to Issa (R-Calif.) and the top Democrat at House Oversight, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) The Oversight panel is scheduled to consider the GOP postal reform bill on Wednesday.
Union Letter: Obamacare Will ‘Destroy The Very Health and Wellbeing’ of Workers - WSJ.com
July 12, 2013
The roll out of President Obama’s health care reform package was always going to be tricky, with vehement opposition from his political opponents and pushback from employers large and small. But after announcing last week that penalties for companies failing to comply with the law will be delayed by a year, the Affordable Care Act has a new, high profile set of dissenters: Unions.
The leaders of three major U.S. unions, including the highly influential Teamsters, have sent a scathing letter to Democratic leaders in Congress, warning that unless changes are made, President Obama’s health care reform plan will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
Thank you for using American Postal Workers Union Mail System.
Message sent to the following recipients:
Message text follows:
6125 Hilltop Drive
Brookhaven, PA 19015-1306
July 22, 2013
Dear Representative Meehan,
I urge you to oppose H.R. 2748, the Postal Reform Act of 2013, as
currently written. On Wednesday, July 24, the House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee will meet to markup this bill.
In its present form, the bill would spell disaster for the Postal Service
and customers who rely on it. As currently written, H.R. 2748 would
prohibit postal unions and management from negotiating protection against
layoffs in future contracts; increase health insurance costs; limit
collective bargaining rights; close post offices, stations and branches;
consolidate plants, and privatize operations.
Without serious modification, the bill is a long way from satisfying the
four fundamental principles that must underlie any effective postal
• Service standards must be preserved as a means of protecting the value
of postal services. The Postal Service requires sufficient resources to
maintain its mail processing and retail service at a level allowing prompt
reliable service to all Americans. Closings of mail processing plants and
post offices are damaging communities and businesses by delaying service
and severely limiting access to postal services.
• The Postal Service and postal rate-payers must be relieved of the burden
of unnecessary payments into the federal treasury. This requires repealing
the mandated payments into the retiree health benefits fund;
re-calculating retirement funding obligations, past and future based on
Postal Service specific demographic and actuarial data; and refunding
overpayments into retirement funds for the use of the Postal Service to
maintain service and control rate increases for postal customers.
• The Postal Service must be released from the overly restrictive present
law and permitted to offer new services that take advantage of the postal
infrastructure in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies.
• Collective bargaining agreements must be respected, and the right of
postal employees to bargain over their wages, hours and working conditions
under federal labor laws must be continued unfettered.
Unless it is amended to sufficiently address these four principles, I urge
you to oppose H.R. 2748.
APWU Web News Article 087-2013, July 22, 2013
Rep. Issa Introduces Postal Legislation
APWU Urges ‘No’ Vote on ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Bill
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) officially introduced postal legislation on July 19, which will be voted on by the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform on July 24. The bill (H.R. 2748 [PDF]) includes some minor modifications from a discussion draft Rep. Issa circulated in June, but is still “deeply disturbing,” APWU President Cliff Guffey said.
Although the revised bill omits the requirement to re-open contract negotiations to immediately eliminate protection against layoffs, which was included in the discussion draft, the revised bill would prohibit postal unions and management from negotiating protection against layoffs in future contracts; increase health insurance costs; limit collective bargaining rights; close post offices, stations and branches; consolidate plants, and privatize operations.
"The legislation as written is totally unacceptable," Guffey said.
“Official Time” for Union Officials Under Fire in Congress - FedSmith.com
July 19, 2013
“Official time” refers to a practice under which the federal government pays the salaries of federal employees who work as union representatives. In other words, the government pays a person to work on behalf of the union while still receiving salary as a federal employee.
As federal employee unions have become synonymous with the election campaigns of Democrats running for office, it isn’t surprising there would be a blowback.
HR 2748 Postal Reform Act of 2013 Aka Ultra-Wealthy Congressmen Destroying The USPS - NHLabornews.com
July 21, 2013
So this is how the worlds best Postal Service may meet its demise. Early Friday evening an obscure 2nd term Republican Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold, who was born into great wealth. Introduced HR2748 that will destroy our nations Postal Service it’s no surprise that the wealthiest and arguably most corrupt member of Congress Daryl Issa is the one setting this tragic play in motion. There is money to be made selling off Postal Service assets and these people want to capitalize.
Mr Farenthold has a net worth of $35.8 million according to the Center for Responsive Politics and Mr Issa is the 2nd wealthiest member of congress at $220,000 million, according to Roll Call. These two people are making reckless decisions that will affect every ordinary working American in this country who depend on mail delivery. These two are as out of touch with mainstream America as two people can be but they are self appointed experts when it comes to our nations mail delivery.
House committee to debate postal overhaul bill Wednesday (7/24/13) - FederalTimes.com
July 19, 2013
A House panel will take up legislation Wednesday that would let the U.S. Postal Service end Saturday mail delivery and would relieve the cash-strapped carrier of its obligation to pre-pay billions of dollars for future retirees’ health care.
The 140-page bill, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., would also bar no-layoff protections in future contracts for unionized workers, let the Postal Service sell advertising space on its vast vehicle fleet and replace the existing part-time USPS board of governors with a team of five full-time executives until the agency starts turning a profit.
The bill’s “common-sense reforms” will restore the Postal Service to long-term financial solvency while maintaining “high-quality universal service,” Issa said in a Friday news release accompanying the bill’s introduction.
Issa chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, whose mark-up Wednesday is the first attempt this year to move legislation aimed at overhauling the Postal Service.
The bill builds on months of bipartisan discussions and incorporates ideas from both sides of the aisle, Issa said in the release. The measure, for example, includes a proposal by the oversight committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, to create the job of USPS chief innovation officer. Issa has also dropped a controversial provision that could have forced postal unions to give up no-layoff safeguards in existing contracts.
But while the Postal Service says that halting Saturday delivery would save about $2 billion annually, letter carrier unions are fiercely opposed. Cummings, who introduced a rival measure earlier this week, has previously opposed ending Saturday delivery and has criticized a separate provision in Issa’s plan that would end most door-to-door delivery in favor of neighborhood “cluster boxes.”
But in a Friday statement, Cummings said he is encouraged by Issa’s willingness to include provisions from his bill. “I believe if we reject extreme measures, we can craft common-sense provisions that wll provide common-ground solutions,” Cummings said.
Issa Introduces Postal Reform Act - oversight.house.gov
July 19, 2013
WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today introduced H.R. 2748, the Postal Reform Act of 2013.
“The commonsense reforms in this legislation will restore the United States Postal Service to long-term financial solvency while maintaining high-quality universal service for all Americans,” said Chairman Issa. “The legislation incorporates reforms offered by members of both sides of the aisle and builds upon months of bipartisan and bicameral discussions.”
Issa released a discussion draft of the Postal Reform Act in June. The Committee received dozens of comments from stakeholders, including members of Congress both on and off the Committee. A list of changes incorporated into the introduced version of the bill can be found here.
The introduced version of the legislation incorporates elements of H.R. 2615, introduced by House Rural Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., H.R. 961, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., and H.R. 2690, introduced by Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
Among the key updates in the legislation are provisions ensuring small and rural post offices are protected from disproportionate number of closures, creating a chief innovation officer for USPS, protecting existing collective bargaining agreements, recalculating projected liabilities for employee pensions, and offering additional relief from retiree health care benefit payments.
“Rural Americans and USPS employees have expressed concern that the burden of cost-cutting reforms will fall disproportionately on their shoulders. We have taken steps to address these concerns because there is no question these populations will be among those most severely affected by a financial collapse of USPS,” said Issa.
The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Postal Reform, and Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., who cosponsored the Postal Reform Act in the 112th congress.
APWU News Bulletin 09-2013, July 18, 2013
Guffey Testifies Before House Committee
“The USPS was not broken in 2006 when Congress passed the PAEA [Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act], President Cliff Guffey told a House committee on July 17. “As a consequence of that legislation, it is nearly broke now; but it still is not broken. Even today it delivers mail to every address in the United States, and delivers six days per week, at less than half the cost of mail in other industrialized nations.”
House Republicans strike bill language to force postal unions to open contracts - WashingtonPost.com
July 17, 2013
The architect of a forthcoming House bill to restructure the financially ailing U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday he’ll strike language to force unions to open existing contracts and eliminate no-layoff rules.
The change from House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is a major concession to labor unions and their allies among Democrats in Congress, who will be key to getting a bill through Congress.
NPMHU and APWU Coordinate Lobbying Efforts to Secure Favorable Postal Legislation - NPMHU.org
July 18, 2013
The National Postal Mail Handlers Union and APWU have announced plans to conduct a nationwide joint lobbying effort over the Congressional recess from Aug. 5 to Sept. 6 to urge senators and representatives to co-sponsor the Postal Service Protection Act (H.R. 630 in the House / S. 316 in the Senate), the Protect Overnight Delivery Act (H.R. 2459), and the United Stated Postal Service Stabilization Act (H.R. 961).
This effort is intended to build support for the unions’ demand that Congress take action now to save the Postal Service and protect postal jobs. Currently, there are 28 co-sponsors for S. 316, 163 co-sponsors for H.R. 630, and 72 co-sponsors for H.R. 2459, but many more are needed.
"In addition to supporting the bills outlined above, we also need to oppose any bill, such as the ‘discussion draft’ authored by House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, which would interfere with collective bargaining, and further degrade service."
USPS News Link Extra - Bridge to financial stability
PMG says USPS needs flexibility and authority to close $20 billion gap
July 17, 2013
The Postal Service’s legislative requirements, as part of its Five-Year Business Plan, include:
• Adopting a USPS health care plan to resolve the retiree health benefits prefunding issue.
• Refunding the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) overpayment and adjusting future FERS payments.
• Adjusting delivery frequency (6-day packages/5-day mail).
• Streamlining the USPS governance model by eliminating duplicative oversight.
• Providing authority to expand products and services.
• Requiring a defined contribution retirement system for future postal employees.
• Requiring arbitrators to consider the financial condition of the Postal Service.
• Reforming Workers’ Compensation laws as they relate to USPS employees.
Cummings Introduces Legislation to Return Postal Service to Profitability
July 17, 2013
Washington, DC (July 17, 2013)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, introduced legislation to return the U.S. Postal Service to long-term solvency and sustainability. The Innovate to Deliver (I2D) Act of 2013 (H.R. 2690) would address the agency's financial challenges through innovative structural changes.
“Our job in Congress is to enact comprehensive legislation that will keep the Postal Service running by offering products and services that meet the ever changing demands of consumers while providing customers with timely and convenient access to these services,” Cummings said. "My legislation would enable the Postal Service to act more like the business it was meant to be by increasing flexibility while ensuring that revenue from mailing rates meets expenses."
Cummings’ bill would strengthen the Postal Service by:
• Creating a new Chief Innovation Officer position charged with leading the development of products and services that enable the Postal Service to capitalize on new business opportunities.
• Authorizing the Postal Service to develop new sources of revenue by providing expanded non-postal services, such as check-cashing, new technology and media services, warehousing and logistics, and public internet access.
• Requiring that each class or type of mail bear the direct and indirect costs attributable to it.
• Requiring the Postal Service to ensure that total costs do not exceed total revenues and, beginning two years after the date of enactment, prohibiting members of the Board of Governors from receiving their $30,000 salaries for any year following a year in which costs exceeded revenues.
• Modifying the Retiree Health Benefits 100% pre-funding requirement by amortizing payments over 40 years, requiring the Postal Service to fund 80% of the liability owed, folding the $11.1 billion in defaulted payments into the amortization schedule, and delaying future payments until 2017.
• Permitting employees of the Postal Service to receive additional service credits as an incentive to retire early. Employees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) would be offered one year of additional service credit, while those covered under the Federal Employees’ Retirement System would be offered two additional years of service credit.
• Requiring OPM to recalculate the surplus within the Federal Employees’ Retirement pension system using postal-specific assumptions rather than the government-wide assumptions currently used, and making a one-time return of excess funds to the Postal Service to pay down existing debt while directing future surpluses to pay down liabilities within CSRS and to Retiree Health Benefits payments.
APWU Web News Article 086-2013, July 17, 2013
APWU, Mail Handlers Plan August Actions to Push Postal Reform
The APWU and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union have announced plans to conduct a nationwide joint lobbying effort over the Congressional recess from Aug. 5 to Sept. 6 to urge senators and representatives to co-sponsor the Postal Service Protection Act (H.R. 630 in the House / S. 316 in the Senate) and the Protect Overnight Delivery Act (H.R. 2459).
APWU Web News Article 085-2013, July 16, 2013
Guffey to Testify Before House Committee
APWU President Cliff Guffey will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on July 17. The hearing will examine a draft postal bill proposed by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and the need for comprehensive postal reform.
Greeting card industry releases postal reform plan - TheHill.com
July 15, 2013
"The study from the greeting card industry comes as postal officials continue to press Congress for action, even as the issue struggles to become a central issue on Capitol Hill.
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has reached out to colleagues with a new discussion draft that softens some of his previous stances on shoring up USPS, which lost close to $16 billion in fiscal 2012 – more than two-thirds of that from the defaults on the prepayments.
In the Senate, Homeland Security Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) is also hopeful of reaching a bipartisan agreement.
But the greeting card industry’s new paper also underscores some of the challenges of postal reform. Both Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and Issa backed a plan that kept only Saturday delivery of packages, which USPS only backed down from under pressure from Congress.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and postal officials have expressed an interest in at least restructuring the retiree prepayment. Some Democrats and unions have also expressed skepticism about clusterboxes, and are pushing for to give USPS access to more revenue streams.
The greeting card industry’s paper also includes dozens of other potential provisions that they say could also aid USPS’s bottom line."
Can the House Reach Bipartisan Agreement on Postal Reform? - GovExec.com
July 15, 2013
The House’s oversight committee will discuss multiple proposals for overhauling the U.S. Postal Service at a hearing this week.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold the hearing -- The Path Forward on Postal Reform -- Wednesday after its chairman and ranking member each released their own proposals to revamp the cash-strapped agency.
APWU Web News Article 083-2013, July 15, 2013
Unions Call for Senate Action On Labor Relations Board Appointments
The APWU and the entire labor movement are demanding that a minority of senators stop blocking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from protecting workers’ rights on the job.
“We can’t let Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans shut down the federal agency that protects the rights of American workers,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey.
Standing in the way of action on pending nominations to the board is the ongoing abuse of the Senate’s filibuster rules, which in recent years have become “a weapon of partisan obstruction and unending delays,” Guffey and Legislative and Political Director Gary Kloepfer wrote in a letter to local presidents.
Smith introduces bill seeking to limit rural post office closures, would actually increase closures
July, 14, 2013
A bipartisan bill that intended to ensure that rural post offices are not inappropriately targeted for closures has been introduced by Reps. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and Mike McIntyre, D-N.C. H.R. 2615, the Securing Access to Rural Postal Services Act, would cap rural closures and consolidations at 5 percent of total closures in any given year. The Congressmen may have their hearts in the right place, but they need to do some math. There are over 32,000 post offices, so limiting closures to 5 percent a year would allow the Postal Service to shutter 1,600 post offices in just one year. Over the past four decades, the Postal Service has been averaging about 100 closings a year. This bill won't help matters at all.
NRLCA Action Alert: House Committee To Consider USPS Service Levels - RuralInfo.net
July 12, 2013
Next Wednesday, July 17, the House Appropriations Committee will consider the Financial Services and General Government’s (FSGG) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014. As you may know, for over 30 years this bill has contained language mandating the Postal Service maintain 6-day mail delivery. This language was key in our fight to protect six-day delivery, and its inclusion this year will help us maintain these service levels. Currently, the FSGG’s Appropriations bill has been voted out of subcommittee with the mandatory 6-day language intact. We must keep it in!
The FSGG’s Appropriations bill is scheduled to be considered by the full committee next Wednesday. We need you to contact and urge the members of the Appropriations Committee to MAINTAIN the 6-day language in this appropriations bill, as it will ensure that the USPS continues to deliver mail 6 days a week, and not lose out on much-needed business and revenue by abandoning customers. Below is a list of the members of the House Appropriations Committee: (see link above)
NLRB Truth: 10 Reasons Why the National Labor Relations Board Matters - AFLCIO.org
July 11, 2013
A radical decision by Republican-appointed federal judges threatens to destabilize the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) if the Board loses a quorum in August. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that two recess appointments made by President Barack Obama in January 2012 were invalid and now NLRB decisions made while those appointees served on the Board are being challenged based on the D.C. Circuit opinion and placed on hold pending resolution of this issue by the U.S. Supreme Court. This puts many workers across the country in dangerous and unfair situations that hurt them and their families. The Senate could go a long way towards fixing the problem by confirming five nominations the president has made to the Board, but Republicans continue to obstruct the process in an effort to disable the NLRB and prevent it from protecting the rights of American workers. Some, like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have taken the extreme position that the NLRB should be "inoperable" and have vowed to block all nominations to the Board.
Here are ten examples—real stories from workers whose jobs and lives are negatively impacted by Republican obstruction—of why we need a functioning NLRB: (click link above).
Federal judge: Post Office violated man's rights by banning gun from parking lot - DenverPost.com
July 10, 2013
A federal judge has ruled that a U.S. Postal Service regulation barring firearms in its parking lots violates the Second Amendment in a case brought by an Avon man and a national gun rights group.
But Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said the Postal Service has a right to bar Tab Bonidy, who filed the lawsuit, from carrying his gun into the Post Office building itself.
Bonidy, who brought the suit along with the National Association for Gun Rights, in U.S. District Court in Denver, has a concealed carry permit and routinely carries a firearm.
"The public interest in safety and Mr. Bonidy's liberty can be accommodated by modifying the regulation to permit Mr. Bonidy to 'have ready access to essential postal services' provided by the Avon Post Office while also exercising his right to self-defense."
House Democrat’s New Postal Reform Bill Finds Some Common Ground - GovExec.com
July 10, 2013
The Democrats’ House oversight leader has introduced his own bill to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, seeking to create new and innovative products for the agency, reduce the number of employees and alter the payment schedule for USPS liabilities.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, struck some common ground with his colleague Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the committee’s chairman. Several key differences persist, however.
July 9, 2013
Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has provided a draft of his approach to postal legislative reform [pdf]. Our very quick reading of the draft indicates the following key points:
• The USPS will appoint a Chief Innovation Officer
• Procedures will be put in place to ensure he does the job
• The costs and revenues from innovative services shall be reported and reviewed.
• The USPS may provide nonpostal services using its current resources including "technology" and "other resources" subject to a public interest test.
• All market dominant services must cover attributable costs and make a contribution to overhead recovery. (No underwater products.)
• The PRC should revisit the cap and see if something better results from placing the cap over the aggregate of market dominant services rather than by class.
• USPS gains authority to ship wine and beer.
• Flat rate media/book rates are repealed.
• All postal board and regulatory commission travel expenses are to be reported and audited.
• USPS may compensate up to six very senior executives up to an amount of no more than $199,700.
• USPS may compensate other officers and executives no more than $178,700
• No fringes paid to senior executives may exceed that which is provided to postal supervisors and managers.
• No bonuses are to be paid if the USPS can't meet long-term solvvency and budget balancing requirements.
• There are several provisions designed to safeguard employees in the event there is a need to downsize personnel or consolidate or close facilities.
• First year FERS excess to be used to pay down postal borrowing.
• Subsequent FERS excesses to be used to pay against other postal obligations.
• Pre-funding to be reamortized to accomplish an 80% satisfaction of obligation by September 30, 2053.
• USPS must report on projected workforce needs based on actual and reasonably anticipated workload requirements.
• USPS may introduce new classes of mail.
• Products covered by the monopoly must take into account "due regard" to private sector entitites providing or using such services.
July 9, 2013
♫"Don't cha know that I heard it -- Heard It -- Yes,
I heard it through the grapevine. . . ."♫
"Word has it that House Government Oversight and Reform Committtee chairman Darrell Issa will be convening his full committee next Wednesday for a hearing on postal reform. Word also has it that his plan is to move to markup the week thereafter."
Congressmen Introduce Bill To Limit Rural Post Offices Closures, Consolidations - PostalReporter.com
July 9, 2013
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) introduced H.R. 2615, the Securing Access to Rural Postal Services Act along with Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC). The bill would ensure rural service is not inappropriately targeted by capping rural closures and consolidations at 5 percent of total closures and consolidations in any given year.
The 2 Supreme Court Cases That Could Put a Dagger in Organized Labor - TheAtlantic.com
July 9, 2013
Amid the ruckus over its voting rights and gay marriage rulings, the justices quietly accepted a pair of cases that could make it nearly impossible for private sector unions to organize new members.
During the last half century, private sector unionism has endured a rather brutal death march. Almost every year, we learn once again that the percentage of private sector workers who are union members has declined to a new record low. For the most part, the decline has been a gradual affair, with private sector unions slowly suffocating under America's uniquely terrible labor laws. In the coming year, however, this slow demise could hasten considerably, courtesy of the Supreme Court.
In the shadow of the intense media coverage last month surrounding the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, the Defense of Marriage Act, and Proposition 8, the justices quietly agreed to hear two cases that could devastate unions in the private sector.
Unusual Route for Postal Workers Union Money - RollCall.com
July 9, 2013
A federal PAC of a union has acted as a pass through for $125,000 of union treasury funds to be used for independent expenditures by a Democratic super PAC.
The American Postal Workers Union Committee on Political Action reported [pdf] it received $125,000 on 6/12 from Wachovia Bank listed as a “transfer from Gen Treasury.” On the same day the PAC sent $125,000 to the House Majority PAC and listed it as a “contribution to independent expenditure committee.”
The PAC also paid Wachovia Bank $3,604 for bank analysis fees.
In that report, covering 4/1 to 6/30, the PAC also reported giving out 100 contributions to federal candidates and committees totaling $304,500.
The PAC also received other union treasury funds in January when it reported [pdf] receiving $326,490 on 1/2 from Wachovia Bank listed as “transfer from gen treasury to reimburse voter registration wages & expenses.”
The American Postal Workers Union Committee on Political Action is listed with the Federal Election Commission as a nonconnected Hybrid PAC that maintains a separate non-contribution account. See FEC Statement on Carey v. FEC and reporting guidance for political committees that maintain a non-contribution account.
However, it is unclear how the American Postal Workers Union Committee on Political Action is considered a nonconnected political committee.
APWU News Bulletin 08-2013, July 8, 2013
APWU Renews TV Ad Campaign
The APWU is renewing its television ad campaign, with spots airing on NBC Nightly News, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News beginning July 8, President Cliff Guffey has announced.
“With postal bills pending in Congress, it is imperative that we remind the American people of the crucial role the Postal Service — and our members — play in meeting our nation’s commerce and communication needs,” he said.
First up is a 30-second ad that describes the enormous task postal workers perform, and ends with a simple question and response: Ever wonder what this costs you as a taxpayer? Not a single cent.
“The ad first aired in July 2011 and helped dispel the persistent myth that the Postal Service is funded by taxpayers,” Guffey said.
Fix pre-funding mess to save USPS - HeraldNet.com
July 6, 2013
"The year 2006 was the best ever for the USPS. Automated mail processing was significantly reducing costs, and productivity was at an all-time high. The Post Office wasn't designed to make a profit, but we were flush with cash, and Congress had dollar signs in its eyes. Legislation was passed requiring the Post Office to pre-fund employee retirement benefits for the next 75 years in a 10-year span, something no other company has to do. Money had to be set aside for retired employees who weren't even born yet. Those $5.5 billion annual payments went directly into the Treasury where Congress could spend it however it wanted. It was nothing more than a cash grab.
Then the economy went bad and Internet use took off. Mail volumes were declining and revenue was going down. The Post Office does not rely on taxpayer money, supporting itself solely through the sale of postage and services. Things began getting tight, and the Post Office asked for relief from the pre-funding requirement. Congress said no. The postal service had to begin other cost-cutting measures -- staffing was cut, vacant positions were absorbed or left unfilled, small Post Offices were closed. All of this disrupts service to the public. But it wasn't enough. Soon, bigger facilities were being shut down. You all know our local mail processing facility is still scheduled to be closed, right? Still not enough. Now the Postmaster General is talking about cutting mail delivery to five days per week. That will result in the layoff of thousands of people. Do we really want that?"
Bipartisan Bill Would Redefine Full-Time Employee Under The Affordable Care Act
July 5, 2013
Legislation has been introduced in the Senate, the Forty Hours is Full-Time Act of 2013 (S. 1188), that would change the definition of full-time employee under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Currently, the ACA defines a full-time employee as an employee who works 30 hours or more per week or 130 hours per month. The bill would increase these numbers to 40 hours per week or 174 hours per month.
During a news conference Senator Susan Collins, one of the sponsors of the bill, said: "The new health care law creates a perverse incentive for businesses to cut their employees' hours so they are no longer considered 'full time.' If its definition of a full-time worker as someone who works only 30 hours a week is allowed to go into effect, millions of American workers could find their hours, and their earnings, reduced. This simply doesn't make sense."
Collins and Senator Joe Donnelly co-authored a letter to President Obama urging his administration to provide employers transition relief beyond January 1, 2014, the effective date of the employer shared responsibility provisions, without incurring financial penalties.
OPM FERS policy on APWU negotiated NTFT positions of less than 40 hours/week [pdf]
Author Releases African American Literature - BurrusJournal.org
July 4, 2013 - Press Release
Author Bill Burrus has written Black History, We Remember, published by Intelligent Publishing. William Burrus was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, to parents William H. and Gertrude Burrus. He began his postal career as a clerk in February 1958, and in the years that followed became interested in union affairs. After gaining membership in the National Postal Union, he began his ascension through the leadership ranks, fighting to improve conditions for postal employees. In 1981, Burrus was elected as the executive vice president of the American Postal Workers Union, the second-ranking officer in the 280,000-member union. In 2000, he was elected president of the union and became the first African American elected by the membership to the presidency of a major union. He served as president for ten years before announcing his retirement after a fifty three-year career as a postal employee and elected union official.
Burrus has four daughters and a stepson and is married to his wife and soul mate Ethelda. They are proud of their ability to communicate, and build a relationship that reflects their mutual love.
We celebrate Black History Month as a continuing reminder of the road that we traveled and pay tribute to the struggles endured, the lives lost prematurely, the pain and suffering and the indignities. So the month of February each year is the reminder that we have not forgotten. Black History Month is our acknowledgement of how far we have come.
The book can be ordered through amazon.com or directly from the publisher at www.icandp.com.
E-book also available through amazon.com.
U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement - NYTimes.com
July 3, 2013
WASHINGTON — Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: A handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.
“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green.
"Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, but that is only a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images."
Congressmen send letter to Postmaster General - ToledoBlade.com
Officials seek to save mail distribution center
July 2, 2013
Ohio’s two Senators and two northwestern-most members of its House delegation asked Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe on Monday to delay closing the Toledo-mail processing and distribution center.
In a bipartisan, bicameral letter, Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) and Sens. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and Rob Portman (R. Ohio) raised concerns that the impending facilities consolidation, under which most work now done in Toledo would be transferred to Pontiac, Mich., will cause delays in mail delivery and not produce projected savings.
The congressmen wrote the letter based on the inspector general’s audit of the U.S. Postal Service’s 2010 elimination of its Lima processing facility.
They noted that concerns appear to be justified after Lima’s operations were transferred out. An inspector general audit requested by Senator Brown reported a 136 percent increase in delayed mail and missed service commitments.
They requested that the postmaster delay transferring processes from the Toledo facility until the inspector general can proactively audit the facility and provide the postal service with all relevant information.
Congress must act to save post office - HamptonRoads.com
July 1, 2013
The effects of the U.S. Postal Service's financial woes - billions in debt, a maxed-out line of credit with the treasury, declining mail volume - are hitting South Hampton Roads. By the end of the summer, every letter dropped into a mailbox will be routed to Richmond to be sorted and sent to its destination.
Officials are in the midst of transferring equipment to that facility from the mail processing and distribution center in Norfolk. The consolidation is one of the few efforts undertaken to staunch the postal service's financial hemorrhaging over the past five or so years. It is, however, entirely inadequate by itself to address such a sweeping problem.
The postal service must undergo a broader, more comprehensive overhaul. For such a unique institution, that requires congressional action.
The following is a perspective by Gene Del Polito, President of the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom), for Mailing Systems Technology magazine.
Time to Get Real About Postal Reform - PostCom.org
June 28, 2013
In a prior article written for Mailing Systems Technology magazine ("What Will It Take?"), I said:
"Everyone within the mailing industry knows how badly meaningful postal reform is needed. Everyone knows the toll the uncertainties of Congress' inaction is having on the Postal Service and its customers. Everyone knows that the postal system is still a vital and needed part of the nation's economic infrastructure. But no one within the industry seems willing to tell their "friends" in Congress they've had enough of congressional lolly-gagging, and that it's time to put up or shut up. Nobody wants to tell their "friends" that unless Congress acts soon, the political campaign contributions will end, and that the industry will spur a torrent of public criticism that will mess up many a members' congressional careers. Instead, the voices of the industry continue to hold back. They continue to to talk quietly and patiently about the pendency of a postal reform measure everyone really knows Congress hasn't the stones to enact."
Well, the heck with all that. When it met early in June, the Board of Director of the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) decided it was high-time someone spoke more affirmatively about what mailers wanted to see in the next postal reform bill, and it approved nine principles which, the PostCom leadership maintained, should be a part of the nation's next postal law. Here is a list of those principles:
• Principle One: The Postal Service should be allowed to develop and propose a health benefits program that may be separate and distinct from the current FEHBP health insurance program provided it meets the needs and garners the support of those who work for the Postal Service.
• Principle Two: The Postal Service should be allowed to develop a defined contribution retirement plan of its own in lieu of the current retirement plan provided under the FERS program.
• Principle Three: Arbitrators called in to address management-labor disputes that cannot be settled by collective bargaining should be Instructed to ensure that the consideration of the fiscal position and the marketplace challenges facing the Postal Service have been taken into sufficient account.
• Principle Four: Congress should authorize the return to the Postal Service any funds that have been contributed to and are being held in excess of the amount that's needed to ensure the adequate and timely funding of the Postal Service's obligation to support its employees' participation and benefits under the FERS program.
• Principle Five: Congress should direct that the current requirement for the Postal Service to pre-fund the health retirement benefits of its employees and retirees under the CSRS program be re-amortized for complete funding over a more actuarially justified period of time in lieu of the 10 years currently mandated under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.
• Principle Six: Congress should reform the rules governing eligibility for Workers Compensation to ensure that workers whose age otherwise would qualify them for retirement-related benefits have their future compensation and benefits provided in accord with those retirement programs in lieu of continued coverage under Workers Compensation.
• Principle Seven: Congress should retain in postal law the requirement that annual increases in prices for market-dominant postal services (those services covered by any statutory monopoly or for which the Postal Service benefits from a position of market dominance in the provision of the service) can be no greater than the annual increase in general prices as determined under the Urban Consumer Price Index (CPI-U).
• Principle Eight: The Postal Service should be permitted to make modification in its days of delivery, network and services, if deemed essential to its fiscal viability and in alignment with its universal service obligation.
• Principle Nine: The Postal Service should be empowered with greater flexibility in the design and offering of new products and services provided that those products and services do not result in demonstrable harm to private sector businesses that already provide such services, and do not permit the Postal Service to unfairly compete with the mailing and fulfillment services industry.
Now, of course, there are knotheads out there who prefer to vilify the PostCom Board for taking a stand in behalf of those within the mailing industry which it represents. The complaints come the loudest from those who simply haven't gotten grasp of the reality that the nation's postal system is fully supported and paid for by those who use mail for business purposes, and that the nation's postal system remains a vital part of the infrastructure by which we conduct commerce.
Instead, they would prefer to stick their heads in the sand and wish for Congress to preserve a way of life which is no longer sustainable without the influx of tax dollars. Then again, there are those complainers out there who couldn't care less if taxpayers were now asked to fund a postal system, if the result would be the satisfaction of the wants and desires. Never mind that the nation can't afford to do that. Nothing, in their minds is more important that satisfying their wants and desires, despite the fact that the nation would be doing well if it focused more on addressing and satisfying our continuing postal needs.
When I hear all their moaning and gnashing of teeth, I'm reminded of that old saying of Maggie Thatcher's. "The trouble with a socialist is that eventually he runs out of his ability to spend other people's money."
APWU Web News Article 080-2013, June 21, 2013
Rep. DeLauro Introduces Bill To Protect Overnight Delivery Standards
Joined by 63 other members of the House, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Protect Overnight Delivery Act (H.R. 2459) on June 20, which would protect overnight mail delivery by preventing the USPS from weakening delivery standards. Moving from overnight to two or three day delivery standards will not only slow mail delivery, it will result in closure of mail processing centers and the loss of approximately 30,000 jobs, Rep. DeLauro said.
Among the original co-sponsors of the bill were 62 Democrats and 1 Republicans.
“Again and again members of Congress have asked the Postal Service not to unilaterally eliminate overnight delivery,” she said. “The Postmaster General should not pre-empt Congressional action and, in the absence of a comprehensive bill, Congress should move forward with this legislation.
“Ending overnight delivery standards – and the subsequent consolidation of processing facilitates – will have a disastrous impact on unemployment. With unemployment high, this is a particularly bad time for the Postal Service to eliminate jobs.
“Our postal workers do an extraordinary service for the community and should be treated with the respect and gratitude they have earned,” Rep. DeLauro added.
The lawmaker is also a co-sponsor of the Postal Service Protection Act of 2013 (S. 316 / H.R. 630), which would remove the retiree benefits pre-funding burden from the Postal Service and would return billions of dollars in overpayments the USPS made to federal retirement accounts to the Postal Service.
Special Interest - BurrusJournal.org
June 21, 2013
Most postal employees are unfamiliar with the organization representing large mailers bearing the name of PostCom so when they announce a political position regarding the Postal Service it is often met with a careless yawn expressing boredom. This is a grievous error as most issues affecting mail services and employment are influenced by their political position. They are an effective political force and exert influence on issues of importance to all postal employees.
The most recent attack by PostCom is the white paper [pdf] released setting forth their legislative principles for postal reform. Included are:
◾The removal of postal employees from the FEHB health insurance program
◾Separate defined contribution retirement program
◾Mandating conditions for decisions of arbitrators in collective bargaining disputes
◾Require the retirement of employees on long term disability
◾Require rate increases be continued as determined under the CPI-U index
Issa reaches out to Democrats on postal reform - TheHill.com
June 20, 2013
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is reaching out across the aisle for suggestions on his new discussion draft to revamp the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
Issa released the discussion draft last week, in an attempt to broaden the support for his efforts at postal reform. And in a "Dear Colleague" letter aimed at Democrats, the California Republican says that “while the challenges are great, I strongly believe that the Postal Service is a government institution worth saving.”
U.S. Postal Service Birthday Rally and Barbecue At Issa’s California Office - PostalReporter.com
Community and Postal Workers to Protest Postal Privatization
When: July 26, 2013 (238th birthday of the US Postal Service) at Noon
Where: Office of Rep. Darrell Issa, 1800 Thibodo Rd., Suite 310, Vista CA 92081
The postal service is considering subcontracting the highway movement of mail to the private sector in approximately 162 Postal Vehicle Services sites nationwide, according to the USPS.
Corporate vultures, their friends in Congress and postal management have delivered body blows to the postal eagle like a piñata to shake loose the 65 billion dollar business within. In April 2013 USPS sent the postal unions a notice of intent to subcontract their Pacific Area Postal Vehicle Service, citing cost comparisons. This, despite the fact that they failed in a previous attempt to subcontract PVS in California on an environmental pretext. “The postal service is not broke. The financial crisis is phony. Thanks to Congressman Darrell Issa, the USPS is now destroying good family wage jobs,” said Kevin Cole, a local postal union officer. According to postal unions, Issa pushed the USPS to study privatization of postal trucking.
Current plans to close half the distribution plants and thousands of post offices, eliminate six-day and door-to-door delivery, and abolish 200,000 jobs will send the postal service into a death spiral. To justify these cutbacks, the Postal Service cites its financial crisis. Since 2006 the USPS has been forced to spend nearly 10 percent of its budget prefunding retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. No other U.S. agency or private business faces such a crushing financial burden. Without the unjust Congressional requirement, the USPS would have been profitable. H,R, 630 and S 316 would fix postal finances and protect the service.
Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Darrell Issa recently introduced a bill that would punish workers, deprive customers of vital services, privatize postal services and harm postal finances. It would force USPS to make $3 billion worth of cuts in post offices and mail processing facilities within two years. Secondly it would prohibit postal unions and management from negotiating restrictions in layoffs. Finally it would empower a board to reject negotiated labor contracts if they were deemed too costly Issa’s bill is an excuse to sell public assets to private interests under the guise of a financial crisis.
PRC.gov - June 18, 2013:
Hon. Shoshana M. Grove, Secretary
Postal Regulatory Commission
901 New York Avenue NW, Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20268-0001
Dear Ms Grove:
ln connection with the Commission's rules pertaining to periodic reports, 39 C.F.R. § 3050 (2012), I have enclosed copies of the following:
(1) FY 2014 Budget, Congressional Submission [pdf];
(2) FY 2014 Congressional Budget Workpapers [xls]; and
(3) FY 2014 Congressional Budget, Summary Tables SE-1, 2, and 6 [xls].
I have also enclosed computer disks containing electronic versions of these reports.
Daniel J. Foucheaux, Jr.
Chief Counsel, Pricing and Product Support
United States Postal Service
Postal Reform Bill Riles Unions, Reduces To-the-Door Delivery - eCommerceBytes.com
June 18, 2013
A new proposal in the House of Representatives to rejuvenate the U.S. Postal Service would authorize the cash-strapped agency to phase out Saturday delivery of regular mail, move away from delivery to doors toward clustered mailboxes and undertake major cost-cutting reforms.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, unveiled his proposal as a discussion draft, suggesting that he would consider modifications before formally introducing legislation.
But the proposal, which revives many of the ideas included in a postal reform bill that Issa backed in the last congress, sparked pointed criticism from unions representing postal workers.
Cliff Guffey, the president of the American Postal Workers Union, said the group is still reviewing Issa's proposal, but that at first look it found several provisions "deeply disturbing."
Government Snooping Revelations Should Give The Postal Service A Huge Opportunity - Forbes.com
June 17, 2013
For all the talk about the failures of the USPS, the latest revelations about government eavesdropping on our emails and telephone calls should be a big commercial for the benefits of physical mail and package delivery. The Post Office is uniquely positioned to exploit the opportunity.
Of course, it would help if Congress stopped trying to put it out of business. For years now, politicos of a certain ideological bent have been going after government services in general, and those with significant union populations in particular. They’ve legislated that the USPS must fully fund its entire retirement obligation, which is something it has obligated no other Federal agency to do (and few corporate retirement programs are similarly front-loaded).
PostCom Takes Leadership Role in Postal Legislative Reform - PostCom.org
June 16, 2013
"The Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom), in its continuous effort to support Congress in passing comprehensive, postal reform, has released a white paper outlining nine legislative principles [pdf]. These principles reflect what our membership believe need to be the cornerstone of any meaningful, postal reform. Our membership represents the diverse industry in which we serve, consisting of direct marketing firms, businesses, printers, lettershops, suppliers, logistic companies, parcel delivery firms and others who either use or support the use of mail and parcels for business communication and commerce."
US Postal Service remains under attack
June 15, 2013
"People are giving into the myth that the US Postal Service is on the verge of collapse. Ed tells the real story of this growing American institution, and why Congress is to blame for the Postal problems with Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union."
- The Ed Show
Postal Reform on the Move - BurrusJournal.org
June 14, 2013
Chairman Issa has released a new version of postal reform that includes some of the negative provisions in the failed legislation. He could not generate sufficient support from the Republican majority to move the 2012 draft so he shelved it and left the Postal Service swinging in the wind.
Despite accelerated consolidations and other means of reducing costs pressure continues to build on USPS finances so it is extremely important that the retirement funds are released and the Postal Service be given flexibility to use its network to generate more revenue. Future health care costs must also be addressed even though the Postal Service has not paid it in two years and will not pay it this year.
The new legislation is reported to include 5-day delivery and restrictions on no lay off protection and it is anticipated that the unions will oppose this legislation as vigorously as they did against the previous anti-labor provisions, but the ball is moving again on postal reform.
How did postal reform fail last year? - WashingtonPost.com
June 14, 2013
APWU Web News Article 076-2013, June 14, 2013
Issa’s Draft Bill ‘Deeply Disturbing,’ APWU Says
A draft postal bill [PDF] released by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on June 13 would punish postal workers, privatize major portions of the USPS, and deprive the American people of vital services, said APWU President Cliff Guffey.
“We will examine the draft more thoroughly in the coming days and participate in discussions with lawmakers and other stakeholders,” Guffey said, “but our initial review is deeply disturbing.”
Flawed ‘discussion draft’ has major problems - NALC.org
June 13, 2013
Darrell Issa's Surprising Compromise to Fix the Post Office - Businessweek.com
June 14, 2013
APWU Web News Article 075-2013, June 13, 2013
Rep. DeLauro to Introduce ‘Protect Overnight Delivery Act’
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will introduce legislation to preserve overnight mail delivery and, in the process, protect mail processing facilities from closure, she told fellow lawmakers in a letter dated June 13 [PDF].
Issa rolls out new postal reform plan
June 13, 2013
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Thursday unveiled a new measure aimed at overhauling a struggling U.S. Postal Service that has been bleeding billions of dollars a year.
Issa’s new draft discussion updates his 2011 postal reform legislation, and comes as lawmakers from both parties and both chambers meet to try to solidify the Postal Service’s finances. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has urged Congress to act for years, with the agency having lost some $19 billion in the last year-and-a-half.
The Postal Reform Act of 2013 – Discussion Draft
In order to solicit broad stakeholder input on the Postal Reform Act of 2013 prior to introduction, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is posting a discussion draft of new legislation along with several summary documents. Feedback can be sent directly to OGRPostalReform@mail.house.gov.
Letter: Congress urged to end logjam on NLRB slate - DelcoTimes.com
By Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO
June 10, 2013
Most people in Pennsylvania don’t even know what the National Labor Relations Board is. Well, why should they? Here’s why.
For decades, American labor law helped working people come together to have a voice on the job which in turn gave them a say in our economy and in our politics and public life. This freedom to organize, which is enshrined in the National Labor Relations Act (and, by the way in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights) helped produce the greatest period of sustained and broad prosperity in our country’s history.
Everyone did better.
Firm chaired by Sen. Feinstein's husband cashes in on another federal crisis - WashingtonGuardian.com
June 12, 2013
The real estate giant chaired by Richard Blum, the husband of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is cashing in on a new federal crisis.
Just a few years after the firm now known as CBRE Group collected more than $108 million from a contract to help the FDIC sell foreclosed properties, the company owned in part by Blum is selling off old post offices under an exclusive contract with the financially struggling U.S. Postal Service, records show.
The story below about Mr. Blum is heartwarming indeed. Perhaps if we increase the amount that COPA provides for his wife's campaign we will be in "better graces." Sad that one of our so-called allies profits by our demise. When will we learn? Where have you gone Teddy Kennedy? We need you now more than ever.
UPS Teamsters in Tampa Bay organize for ‘no’ vote on proposed contract - FightBackNews.org
June 8, 2013
Tampa, FL – Around the country, 250,000 Teamsters are voting on a proposed 5-year contract between the Teamsters and United Parcel Service. With the ballots already out in the mail, rank-and-file Teamsters are doing what they can to reject the agreement. All ballots are due by June 20. Around the country, UPS workers have been organizing a “Vote No” campaign urging fellow Teamsters to vote against the contract.
"Teamster President Hoffa and the contract negotiators are also urging members to vote yes. They have sent out three different letters to the 250,000 members, full of skewed information promoting this tentative agreement. Many leaders have expressed to the rank and file that they should be grateful for this contract, because of hard economic times and that wages are all generally low. All while UPS almost hits record profits."
"On, June 8, Teamster Local 79 members went to local meeting to talk further about this proposed contract. Many people were mad and asked questions about the contract. Questions centered around health care costs to part-timers; low wage increases overall, the pension and the 9.5 language. As Local President Ken Wood attempted to sell the contract, he received many complaints from members. People left the meeting even angrier than before. They plan to go back to work to talk to their brothers and sisters about the contract and urging everyone to vote no."
Peter DeFazio Petitions Obama to Fix the Post Office - BusinessWeek.com
June 7, 2013
Like many House Democrats, Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon is unhappy with the U.S. Postal Service’s efforts to live within its means. But DeFazio isn’t critical of just Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe for closing mail-processing centers and trying to move to five-day delivery to ease the fiscal crisis at the USPS, which is losing $25 million a day. He’s frustrated that President Obama isn’t working on a solution. So he mounted a petition drive on the White House’s We the People site, which garnered 30,000 signatures to get the president to support his bill to fix the USPS. The petition failed—you need 100,000 signatures to trigger a response from the administration. But DeFazio’s efforts raised an intriguing question: Why has Obama been silent about the crisis at the Postal Service? DeFazio talked to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Devin Leonard about his frustration with Donahoe, Obama, and the future of the USPS. The interview has been edited and condensed.
Letter to the Editor - Cleveland.com
Congress denies the Postal Service money it needs, then has the gall to rob from it
June 6, 2013
"I'm writing you today to express my disgust with Congress and the recent decision made by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. The plan to take money from two federal employee retirement funds to balance the budget is appalling. The United States Postal Service has, on different occasions, pleaded to officials to get back the money it had overpaid into the Federal Employees Retirement System based on the Office of Inspector General's findings. The USPS was told there wasn't any legislation allowing for such a thing. So in basic and short terms: no. Yet the Treasury Department can raid these funds when they feel like it?
The Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund is bankrupting the USPS. It is currently sitting at roughly $46 billion reserved for future retirees of the USPS, or so we thought. The USPS puts in roughly $5 billion a year by law. Now the Treasury Department just wants to step in and take it from this account as well? This amounts to nothing more than modern-day bank robbery.
I'm perplexed as to how the U.S. government can justify stealing money from both retirement accounts while the USPS, a private entity of the federal government, is on the verge of bankruptcy. The USPS is running out of options to stay a viable business. Officials continue to close rural post offices, close city offices, close processing plants and change delivery standards. The USPS has tried to cut costs at every corner of its operations. Yet members of Congress have no problem just putting their hand into the cookie jar and taking whatever they want while telling the USPS, "No, you can't have any."
To add insult to injury, the president has lifted the pay freeze on federal workers. The House of Representatives and Senate as well as the president and vice president will benefit from this executive order and be receiving pay increases, while the U.S. government robs the USPS blind. How can anyone in D.C. justify such an act other than out of greed?
I'm on the verge of losing my job because the House and Senate can't or won't come together on a decision to save the Postal Service. And yet, the government is raiding federal retirement money and is given a raise. This is simply a slap in the face of every postal worker -- union and nonunion members alike. It's a slap in the face to every American paying taxes, watching the cost of living climb and barely getting by. I can tell you this does not bode well with my members or myself.
Thomas R. Benson, Roaming Shores"
(Benson is President of the Lake-Geauga Area American Postal Workers Union Local 1204.)
APWU COPA April 2013 Quarterly Report:
REPORT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS [pdf]
OIG Releases Semiannual Report to Congress - USPSOIG.gov
October 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013
June 5, 2013
"The OIG continues to rely on data modeling and data analytics to focus our efforts on the Postal Service’s high-risk areas to produce valuable work. These tools help us to find the root causes of weaknesses in postal operations and to offer solutions. As the OIG seeks solutions that will help the Postal Service, it encourages feedback through its blog, audit projects, and other social media outlets."
Bengazi, the IRS, the Associated Press, and the USPS - CEPObserver.com
June 4, 2013
This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold its 2nd hearing on “scandals” at the Internal Revenue Service. These two hearings along with a third hearing held by the full committee on the Bengazi have provided the Committee significant visibility that the hard work required to create a postal reform bill that can pass would not.
CBRE/Richard Blum and USPS - Snopes.com
Does the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein chair a company that brokers sales of USPS facilities?
No mention of Postal Reform on the schedule...
Cantor Outlines Busy June, Highlighted by Appropriations - RollCall.com
May 31, 2013
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor circulated a memo to House offices Friday afternoon outlining a busy schedule for the chamber’s June work period.
The Virginia Republican says the chamber will turn to an assortment of legislative measures, including four fiscal 2014 appropriations bills. Those measures fund a handful of departments and agencies, including the Agriculture, Homeland Security, Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, along with some other federal functions, such as the Food and Drug Administration.
"Cantor also signaled that the House will move forward on two other annual measures: the defense and intelligence authorizations bills. He mentions other health and medical research legislation and ongoing oversight endeavors. Work also looms in July on reauthorizing the education law known as No Child Left Behind, Cantor noted. The debt ceiling and immigration also earned mentions in the letter, but neither came with a specific timeline."
What Would Happen if the Postal Service and FEHBP Part Ways? - GovExec.com
May 30, 2013
Walton Francis, an independent consultant and author of Consumers' Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, has criticized the plan, telling Congress in 2012 the move would destroy FEHBP.
"The USPS proposals would massively disrupt or destroy the FEHBP, the single most successful health insurance program ever operated by the United States government,” Francis said. “In destroying the FEHBP, the USPS would disrupt the health insurance of 8 million Americans, and breach statutory entitlement promises made to millions of federal retirees."
U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro told a Senate committee in February the Government Accountability Office would issue a report on the effects of USPS withdrawing from FEHBP -- both on postal workers and the rest of enrollees -- in July.
APWU Web News Article 071-2013, May 31, 2013
More Ricin News
UPDATE: In a Stand-Up Talk [pdf] to employees on May 30, the USPS said, “A third suspicious letter — this one addressed to the President of the United States and showing characteristics similar to the two letters found earlier this week — has been identified, isolated and sent to a laboratory for testing today.” Preliminary tests of the earlier letters tested positive for ricin. Law enforcement authorities are investigating.
In a related development, Bloomberg reported that FBI agents investigating a mid-May ricin incident in Spokane WA said suspicious letters also were sent to President Obama, the Central Intelligence Agency and a U.S. Air Force Base. Previous reports indicated that ricin-tainted letters were sent to the Spokane Post Office and a federal judge. According to the FBI, the letter to President Obama was intercepted and found to contain ricin; the letter to the Air Force Base is undergoing testing, and the letter to the CIA hasn't been found, Bloomberg reported.
USPS SUSPICIOUS MAIL ALERT POSTER (POS 84): [pdf] | [jpg]
APWU Web News Article 069-2013, May 29, 2013
Another Ricin Incident
Suspicous Letters to NYC, DC Were Postmarked in Shreveport LA
Two suspicious letters, one to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and another to an address in Washington DC, are being tested for ricin, the Postal Service has notified the APWU. Both letters were postmarked in Shreveport LA on May 20. The Washington DC letter indicated the presence of ricin in preliminary tests; the New York letter is similar, but has not tested positive.
“Further analysis is now being conducted in a specially-equipped laboratory,” the USPS said in a Mandatory Stand-Up Talk [PDF] given to employees in the New York and Washington DC Districts on May 28 and 29. “In addition, law enforcement officials are in the process of searching to determine if there may be additional letters.”
APWU Web News Article 068-2013, May 28, 2013
Federal Government Loots USPS;
Nobody Seems to Notice
When Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress last week of plans to take money from two federal employee retirement funds to avoid defaulting on the national debt, there was hardly a peep. No outrage. No dismay. Not even a question.
APWU President Cliff Guffey wants to know why not.
Also see: APWU Press Release - May 28, 2013
'Unchained CPI Melody' bums some - FederalNewsRadio.com
May 28, 2013
A major "reform" proposed by the White House and endorsed by Republicans in the House, would hit all current and future federal retirees. But some — the soon-to-be-majority of retirees — would be hit harder than others.
The proposal, if it becomes law, would reduce the size of future cost-of-living adjustments for federal, military and Social Security retirees. It would use a new yardstick (known as the chained CPI) to measure price increases and determine the size of future adjustments for retirees. People would still get January COLAs to keep pace with inflation. But those increases, using the chained CPI system, would be smaller than under the current system. Smaller by about 0.3 percent each year, according to some experts.
That amount — if accurate — isn't much. But over time it could mean considerably smaller annuities for retirees than they could expect under the current system. So how big a deal is it, and who would it hurt the most?
Right And Wrong - BurrusJournal.org
May 24, 2013
I must acknowledge the brilliant thoughts expressed by Mark Jamison in his response to my post “Reform or What?” Mark captures the essence of the debate over the future of the Postal Service. The only difference that I would have with his theories is that power concedes nothing without a demand. Ordinary people who are so caught up in superfluous issues are blind to the bend of our government institutions to favor the rich and powerful. The political system has been contorted to respond to campaign contributors who dominate the legislative agenda.
Transformation is underway to remove government as a leveling agent in the division of resources generated by the population. A series of events have tilted the collective benefit to those at the very top of collective action. Over the course of the past 50 years, the wealthy have made significant progress in harboring a disproportionate share of resources through the use of government; NAFTA, weakened safety regulations, gerrymandered election Districts, assaults on the right to organize, and now the coup de gras of removing Congress as a legislative branch beyond the maintenance of national defense. The Chambers of Congress have been successful in eroding the use of government for the collective good and have converted it to be an inactive body consumed by investigations.
The Postal Service and its future are caught in this transformation and until the voters begin to focus on their collective interest, this generation will unwind the relationship between government and individual citizens. Social Security, Medicare. Health care and government provided services, including the Postal Service will be abandoned to be replaced by -for profit services. The future of the United States Postal Service is caught up in this transformation and a disinterested public will be oblivious to its demise.
We can editorialize about the proper use of government but the American citizens are tuned out even though they will be directly affected. Our political system has been changed into a forum where only 30% of eligible voters participate and this 30% is focused on pet issues, exclusive of service and long range benefits. We need a political movement representative of working people that will focus on issues that add to the quality of their lives.
Congressman Issa has the support of his constituents who accept his use of authority to pursue a political agenda. It is the American voters, 50% of whom do not participate in the democratic process, who are the real architects of the dismantling of government institutions. I predict that when conservatives have achieved their objectives of disadvantaging the ordinary people there will be a response, but by then the damage will have been done and the road back will be insurmountable.
Mark and I disagree on the question of deciding what is right and what is wrong in the role of government. Mark believes that there is a universal standard that will judge the best use of government. I believe that in a Democracy it is a political question that will be decided at the polls.
Unfortunately, the voters do not understand the importance of government in their lives and believe that they inherit all of the positives generated by collective activity. And if history is repeated, the very same citizens that will be disenfranchised by the decisions favoring capitalism over labor will either fail to vote, or in a majority will vote against their personal interest. This is democracy and we will get the government and services that we vote for.
I thank Mark for adding a voice of reason to the debate.
APWU Web News Article 064-2013, May 21, 2013
47 Members of Congress Tell PMG:
Stop Accelerating Consolidation of Mail Processing
Forty-seven members of Congress have signed a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe urging him to stand by his commitment to keep more than 70 mail processing facilities open until next spring.
“We believe it would be imprudent of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to close or eliminate processing of mail, at any facility, ahead of schedule,” the May 20 letter [PDF] says.
The letter was written in response to management’s decision to close or consolidate 71 mail processing facilities this year that were scheduled for possible consolidation in 2014.
Lew taps government retiree pension fund- FederalNewsRadio.com
May 21, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said late Monday he will begin tapping into two government employee retirement funds to buy more time before the U.S. Treasury is faced with the prospect of defaulting on the national debt.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Lew said that he would tap the civil service retirement and disability fund and a similar fund that covers retired postal workers. The law allows him to remove investments from these funds to clear room for more borrowing until Congress votes to raise the debt limit.
It would truly be wonderful if there were a leader such as Eugene V. Debs, William Z. Foster, or a Big Bill Haywood in these times – but, alas, they were purged long ago and their remnants eliminated in the second “Red Scare” of the 1940’s through the 1960’s. Now, all that it seems that one can do is be the voice in the wilderness while the majority of us, still, cling to the illusions of the Democratic Party and the American Federation of Labor as being the voice of the common man and worker. Meanwhile, our social, political, industrial, and human rights are legislated away or are taken away from us outright as we float along being led by the seductive song of the Lorelei.
Would that there had been a Henry Wallace as Vice-president in 1944 instead of a Harry S. Truman for the Democratic Party – but the Democratic Party had accomplished what needed to be done to save its constituency and it was time to return to its roots. Would that there had been a Henry Wallace and a Progressive Party in control of the Presidency in 1948, but both the AFL and CIO turned against the common man and their own best interests and went Democrat – and the bi-partisan purge of the progressive labor elements continued.
The Postal Department became the Postal Service and the stage was set for privatization under Nixon. Most certainly, there were better years and quiet time – but step by step and in inch by inch the stage was set for privatization both by action and intent. Yet, we continue to believe otherwise that this is not the case and that our work is not being transferred to FedEx, Pitney-Bowes, and the other entities and that privatization is not the issue.
The Postal Service was set up along private and corporate lines with collective bargaining and ties to government benefits to the unionized work force to ease the transition away from a public service and government oversight to control the process of privatization.
We can point to this or that instance – but to point to any one instance leads to another piece of the legislative puzzle that once completed will end in the elimination of the postal service as an affordable mandated service to the public.
Reform or What? - BurrusJournal.org
May 20, 2013
What is Congressman Issa waiting for? After being informed that the USPS may run out of cash in October of this year he continues to dally with legislation that would stabilize postal finances. It is obvious that Republican members on the committee object to key pieces of the proposed legislation, but there is too much at stake to hold out for a political agenda. Union efforts to substitute H.R. 630 as the vehicle for postal reform are a wistful long shot so to continue as a viable institution it is essential that some form of legislation is adopted and soon. The question before the major stakeholders is whether each will accept undesirable provisions to save the Postal Service and there is a laundry list of them.
For the unions, they want to avoid at all costs modification to collective bargaining; accelerated consolidations; 5-day delivery; release of retirement overfunding; major subcontracting, but eliminate the health care prefunding.
The Republican agenda seeks to continue the health care payment in some form, accelerate consolidations, reduce the retirement overpayment and lay the foundation for privatization.
Within these conflicting agendas and unflinching adversaries there is a possibility of legislation that does not satisfy the politicians or the unions but saves the Postal Service. If one begins with the goal of an economically stable Postal Service as the primary objective, the legislative negatives while unacceptable become palatable. The clock is ticking and the USPS’ financial position will not improve without major intervention. Neither camp will achieve their objectives in the current political climate, but at some point the question must be asked: postal reform or what?
"The More Effective Evil: The Impact of Barack Obama's Presidency on the Black Community"
Video Published on May 11, 2013
(Documentary) This important documentary features some of the progressive and fearless voices of African/Black people who have insisted on speaking out against the destructive polices (foreign and domestic) of US President, Barack Obama. This documentary details Obama's record as a war mongering president whose policies have cost the lives of countless civilians in places like Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Please watch this documentary with your full attention and share it in places of worship, community centers and with your loved ones and friends. Let the film be a force for ending imperialism and starting peace, justice and equality.
NAPS Leg/Reg Update - May 17, 2013
Agreement Could Set the Stage for Congressional Action on Postal Reform
Senate and House postal oversight leaders have agreed to a package of undisclosed "principles" to guide the shaping of similar, but not necessarily identical, Senate and House comprehensive postal reform bills, according to Congressional sources.
While the agreement does not clear the way for immediate action in either chamber, it reveals incremental progress between leading Senate and House lawmakers that potentially could lead to Congressional action on postal reform.
National Guard team deployed to investigate Ricin at Spokane Post Office - KXLY.com
May 16, 2013
SPOKANE, Wash. - A National Guard Civil Support team, whose primary role is identifying weapons of mass destruction hazards, has been deployed to Spokane to investigate the discovery of several threatening letters that have preliminarily tested positive for Ricin.
Ricin is a highly toxic substance made from castor beans. As little as 500 micrograms -- an amount the size of the head of a pin -- can kill an adult.
There is no known antidote.
The 10th Civil Support Team, a full-time National Guard unit whose role is to identify and assess weapons of mass destruction, has deployed 20 personnel and nine vehicles to Spokane to investigate the letters found at the downtown post office earlier this week.
APWU Web News Article 061-2013, May 15, 2013
Another Ricin Incident Hits Spokane
Preliminary lab tests indicated the presence of ricin on two suspicious letters in Spokane WA, the Postal Service told the APWU on May 15. The letters are being analyzed and tested further for hazardous material, according to a Mandatory Stand-Up Talk [PDF] management presented to workers.
One letter was addressed to the Spokane Post Office; the other was addressed to a federal judge in Spokane. Both letters were postmarked May 14.
“We have no reason to believe that any employees are at risk from handling the suspect letters as they passed through the mailstream in Spokane,” management told employees in the Stand-Up Talk. “The substance involved was not in a form that could be inhaled or otherwise readily ingested.
“If anyone were to inhale a quantity of ricin large enough to produce symptoms, they most likely would include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing and would appear within 24 hours. If you have not experienced such symptoms, you should not be concerned. If you have, we urge you to let your supervisor know and see your doctor promptly for an evaluation.”
The APWU will monitor the situation closely, said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “Our members’ safety is our primary concern,” he said. The union will provide updates as more information becomes available.
APWU Web News Article 059-2013, May 14, 2013
Guffey Addresses Alliance for Retired Americans
Seeks Support for Postal Service Protection Act
APWU President Cliff Guffey asked leaders of the Alliance for Retired Americans to encourage members of Congress to support the Postal Service Protection Act (S. 316 in the Senate and H.R. 630 in the House) when they met with U.S. senators and representatives on May 10. Guffey addressed the organization’s Leadership Conference on May 9. APWU Retirees Director Judy Beard serves on the National Executive Board of the ARA.
Other topics discussed at the ARA conference included the chained-CPI and protecting Social Security and Medicare.
Postal Service's $1.9 billion loss means reform can't wait any longer, senator says
May 10, 2013
"Carper, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has been the main force in Congress behind changing the Postal Service's business model. That could include allowing the Postal Service to restructure its retirement health benefits payments, continue reducing its number of facilities, finding new sources of revenue and possibly cutting Saturday mail delivery.
The Postal Service agrees with Carper that postal reform needs to happen sooner, rather than later."
Postal workers’ struggle spreads across the world - workers.org
May 9, 2013
U.S. Postal Service clerks, carriers, mail handlers and drivers have a lot in common with other postal workers in the capitalist world. In Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Greece, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, India, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, Canada and other countries, postal workers have gone out on strike in the last year to demand wage increases, to defend benefits and to oppose privatization.
In the U.S., postal workers are in a fight to defend the post office from privatization, which would destroy union wages and benefits, disproportionately affecting communities of color. Corporate control of mail would curtail mail services to many communities, especially seniors, the disabled, the incarcerated, immigrants, rural communities and people without permanent housing.
A Petition That Just Might Save the Post Office - TheNation.com
May 10, 2013
"But the Oregon Democrat knows it’s going to take more than defensive moves by Congress to save the USPS.
To that end, DeFazio has introduced the Postal Service Protection Act, a detailed proposal to "sustain the postal service, avoid unnecessary closures that hurt rural communities, and save American jobs."
Now, he wants to up the ante by enlisting President Obama in the struggle—or, to be more precise, he's come up with a strategy to get the president more engaged with saving the postal service.
Obama has sent some good signals; indeed, his budget borrows ideas advanced by Sanders and DeFazio for making the USPS more competitive.
But the congressman is right to want the president to play a more pivotal role in saving post offices and sorting centers, rural routes and urban facilities, from a death by slow cuts. The stronger and louder the support from Obama, the greater the likelihood that the Postal Service Protection Act—which has the potential to gain support from disengaged Democrats and reluctant Republicans—could be enacted.
So DeFazio has taken the rare step—as a congressman—of posting a petition on the Obama administration's "We the People" website."
Court strikes down NLRB poster ruling - NewsDay.com
May 7, 2013
"The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the National Labor Relations Board violated employers' free speech rights in trying to force them to display the posters or face charges of committing an unfair labor practice.
Unions had hoped the posters would help them boost falling membership, but business groups argued that they were too one-sided in favor of unionization.
The court's ruling is the latest success for business groups that have worked to prevent the NLRB from shifting the legal landscape in favor of labor unions, despite President Barack Obama's appointment of several labor-friendly board members."
I would like to share with you the video of the Press Release on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol April 30, 2013. Congressman DeFazio is speaking on HR 630 and the We the People petition To Save the Postal Service.
Thank you for posting the 'We the People' petition to the White House created by Congressman Peter DeFazio from Oregon. Postal Workers in Oregon are truly blest to have the support of Congressman DeFazio as well as Representatives Blumenauer, Bonamici and Schrader as well as a Senators Wyden and Merkely. I hope that all of you will sign and share the petition. We have less than 15 days to reach the 100K mark in order to receive a response from the White House. Congressman DeFazio has gone out on a limb as he thought he would be able to get the support of postal workers from all unions and they would sign this petition. Let us show that we support our jobs, we support the USPS for all and that we are behind those that support us. In order to sign the petition you will need to create an account. It is quite simple. Once you are on the Petition page click on 'create an account' which is located in the lower right corner of the green banner at the top of the page.
Thank you very much. Please pass on to as many people, co-workers, friends and relatives as you can. thanks again!
"Prior to leaving the U.S. Capitol for a one-week recess, Rep. David Camp (R-MI), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced a bill that would devastate the Federal Employees Health Benefits Pro-gram (FEHBP). H.R. 1780 would force the entire federal work-force out of the FEHBP and into coverage offered by the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare)."
See: NAPUS: Congressional Attack on the FEHBP [pdf]
Related: May 1, 2013 NTEU memo [pdf]
APWU Web News Article 057-2013, May 7, 2013
War in Afghanistan Takes the Life of Son of APWU Member
The War in Afghanistan touched the APWU family on April 27, when Capt. Reid K. Nishizuka, 30, was killed in a plane crash near the Kandahar Airfield. Capt. Nishizuka, of Kailua, HI, was the son of Norene Nishizuka, who is a Clerk in Henderson, NV. She is a member of the Las Vegas Area Local.
The cause of crash, which took four lives, is under investigation. Funeral Services will be held on May 11, at the Central Union Church in Honolulu.
Our safety came last again - SocialistWorker.org
May 6, 2013
After letters containing the deadly toxin ricin were detected in mail destined for elected officials, law enforcement--already on high alert after the Boston Marathon bombings--went into action. The FBI was eager to find someone to charge--so much so that they identified and demonized a suspect who turned out to be innocent. But the Feds didn't have a minute to worry about the safety of postal workers who might be exposed to ricin.
Frank Couget, a veteran letter carrier in New York City and member of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 36, says this disregard for postal workers' lives was reminiscent of the weeks after September 11, when there was an anthrax attack through the mail.
ON APRIL 16, a day after the Boston Marathon bombings, news media reported that mail containing the poison ricin was sent to Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and one other official. Soon after, it was announced ricin-laced mail was sent to President Barack Obama.
As yet, there have been no reports of ricin-related illness among those who handled the mail. However, I find it disturbing that postal union leaders first found out about this potentially lethal attack from news reports, and not the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) officials who were investigating the matter.
I've worked at USPS in New York City for over a decade. My facility processed two of the anthrax letters sent to media companies in Manhattan in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. I remember government and corporate media kept busy claiming it was a second-wave assault by al-Qaeda or Iraq.
Meanwhile, five people, including Washington, D.C., postal workers Thomas Morris Jr. and Joe Curseen Jr. were killed, and 17 others were injured by exposure to the spore-laden mail. While no effort was spared to protect the elites, Brother Morris' concerns reportedly went unheeded by his supervisor.
After eight years, the FBI traced the attack to an Army anthrax specialist who worked at a U.S. bio-weapons lab in Fort Detrick, Md. Part of the reason why the murders went unsolved is because Fort Detrick scientists were investigating the case.
Suspected copycat letters were found in my station in the weeks following the anthrax attack. Instead of evacuating the building, I remember management simply putting up a piece of yellow caution tape around the sorting case they were found in.
I remember at that moment it became clear to me that postal management was not just incompetent, but callously so. I remember coworkers going about their jobs unwilling to "make an issue out of it," not from apathy, but from despair. I was one of them.
It is over a decade later, and the memory of our acceptance of being treated that way pains me more than the rage I feel at those responsible. It is over a decade later, and USPS workers are still the last to know. It is over a decade later, and we should no longer accept being treated this way.
Blade Runner, Terminator, Minority Report and the deliberate sabotage of the Postal Service - Patheos.com
May 7, 2013
Ten years from today, in 2023, a baby will be born. She will grow up, head off to school, graduate from high school in the class of 2041 and then graduate from college in the class of 2045.
She will get a job with the U.S. Post Office, starting work there in 2046 and staying on until retirement at age 65 in 2088.
Just think of that date: 2088. That’s the future. It’s decades after the future we’ve imagined.
It’s 87 years after a Space Odyssey; 69 years after Blade Runner; 61 years after Children of Men; 59 years after the robots take over in Terminator; 34 years after Minority Report; four years after Total Recall.
I’ll be long dead by then. So will every current member of Congress. 2088 is a long, long way away.
And yet, today, now, at the moment, the U.S. Postal Service is required by law to already be pre-funding employee benefits for that baby who won’t be born until 2023 and won’t start working for the USPS until 2046.
Why? Well, because Americans like the Postal Service. They may not like standing in long lines at the post office — the high cost of low taxes for everyone — but they like the idea of the Postal Service. They rely on it and rely on being able to rely on it.
And the Postal Service is run by the government, even though it funds itself without any tax dollars.
So if your whole political shtick is based on being anti-government, then the Postal Service is a threat you’ve got to get rid of. That’s why, back in 2006, Republicans in Congress passed something called the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act,” requiring the agency to “pre-fund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in an astonishing ten-year time span.”
(The USPS is also home to lots of unionized public employees, and the GOP lately has decided that unionized public employees are Public Enemy No. 1. That’s an odd claim — villainizing police officers, firefighters, first responders, teachers and mail carriers doesn’t seem like an easy or an obvious task, but that’s the current Republican plan, and the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act” is a part of that strategy.)
The PAEA was designed to bankrupt the Postal Service — to turn a government service that Americans like into something that could be railed against as wasteful, inefficient and costly. That’s what the law was meant to do. That’s exactly what the law is doing, just as planned.
It was a deliberate act of sabotage. And it’s working. The whole point of requiring the agency today to fund benefits for workers it won’t hire until 2046 was to ensure that the agency wouldn’t still be around in 2046 to hire anybody.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, has introduced a bill to repeal the sabotage of the Postal Service — getting rid of the malicious and absurd requirement for pre-funding 75 years worth of benefits, and rescuing the agency from this Bush-era attempt to euthanize it.
But the Republicans who passed the sabotage bill in 2006 are still in charge of the House of Representatives today, so DeFazio’s bill faces a brick wall of opposition. The last thing that John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan want to see is a money-saving plan to improve the efficiency of a government service beloved and relied on by the American people.
Rep. Bonamici tells carriers of need for postal service reform
May 6, 2013
SEASIDE — Before a packed room Friday, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., told the state convention of the Oregon State Association of Letter Carriers that Congress needed to do more to reform problems with the U.S. Postal Service.
“Congress has really delayed some significant changes that need to be made on the postal issues,” she said. “Some at the post office have tried to eliminate the six-day delivery, talking about voiding layoff protections in the labor contracts, working on outsourcing delivery service.”
“Enough is enough. Congress, the letter carriers, we all need to be working together to help rebuild this vital link between people and communities.”
Click Here for more from DailyAstorian.com
Daily Kos: Overtime pay is a line in the sand for labor
May 5, 2013
"Today the very foundation to FLSA is under attack with the introduction of H.R. 1406 – Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013. Many of you may know that this bill would amend the FLSA and would effectively eliminate overtime pay for all non-exempt employees. At first glance this bill may not sound so bad, especially with the family friendly name of, “Working Families Flexibility Act.” What it does though is undermine the ability of an employee to earn overtime pay. If you work 44 hours you should be paid your standard wage for 40 hours and time and a half for four hours. Receiving one and a half hours of compensatory time off for every hour of time worked over 40 does not put food on the table. While this idea sounds good on paper I cannot see it working out well for the worker. The employer can pick and choose, based on the needs of the business, when the worker can take compensatory time. Did you work a couple of extra hours last week so you could go to one of your child’s school functions? Sorry, business needs come first."
Ralph Nader: The Plight of the Postal Service
May 3, 2013
The United States Postal Service is in a freefall due to poor management, a starkly shortsighted, paralyzed Congressional leadership, and the steady march of right wing ideologues. Corporate competitors who advance corporatization have severely eroded the historic institution created by Benjamin Franklin; one that currently delivers over 150 billion pieces of mail a year and walks and drives all neighborhoods.
According to Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe, who spoke at the National Press Club inWashington D.C. two weeks ago, a massive, billion dollar bailout might be in the Postal Service's future, unless drastic measures are taken. In his words: "Congress faces a simple choice: It can decide to start appropriating a lot of money to prop up a broken Postal Service or it can give the organization the flexibility to operate more effectively."
Many practical, ignored reforms are necessary for our nation's troubled postal system, but what is the "flexibility of operation" that Mr. Donohoe is referring to?
Notably, absent from his speech was the fact that the USPS has not taken any taxpayer money since 1971, or that the USPS is the only major corporation that is a net creditor of the United States government (the others receive varieties of corporate welfare.) According to USPS's own Inspector General, the USPS has overpaid as much as $80 billion dollars to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), which the federal government owes the USPS and refuses to return. Why didn't Donohoe mention that in his speech?
Further, under his misguided leadership, the USPS has moved to raise rates and cut service -- almost assuredly a poor turnaround plan to anyone with any sense. Any rational postal customer might ask, why should I pay more for less?
Click Here for more from HuffingtonPost.com
Postal Loss Seen at $6 Billion as Donahoe Asks U.S. Congress Aid
May 2, 2013
The U.S. Postal Service is projecting a loss of as much as a $6 billion for the year as it keeps pressure on Congress for help, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said.
The government agency that’s supposed to support itself through postage sales lost about $3 billion in the first half of its fiscal year, from Oct. 1 through March 31, Donahoe said in an interview airing this weekend on Bloomberg Television’s “Conversations With Judy Woodruff.” That decline is projected to double by the year’s end, which is Sept. 30, he said.
Click Here for more from Bloomberg.com
I received this from my friend who works at IRS:
"Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI) has introduced legislation, H.R. 1780, which would require most federal employees to leave the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and instead join health plans established under the Affordable Care Act. NTEU strongly opposes this legislation and will fight to ensure that it is not enacted."
See: NTEU National President's Memorandum - May 1, 2013 [pdf]
Consolidation Hoax - BurrusJournal.org
April 29, 2013
The postmaster general has embarked on a massive plan to consolidate mail processing facilities that will result in over 200 plants being merged with continuing facilities. The relocations will impose major inconveniences on the reassigned employees and the communities that lose plants will experience delays in mail deliveries. Mail intended for delivery within the community or same block will travel one hundred miles or more round-trip before delivery. This erosion of customer service is bad enough at a time when citizens are opting increasingly to communicate by other means, but the entire process of plant consolidations is a hoax.
Mail processing in the American postal system consists of the 400 plus plants owned and operated by the Postal Service and 35 processing plants operated by Pitney Bowes. The 35 Pitney Bowes plants process the same mail finalized in postal plants for delivery, performing the service at a cost that is determined by law to equal avoided USPS costs. The law requires that the rates set for presorted services be at the USPS’ avoided costs, so by law the USPS’ savings realized by Pitney Bowes performing a processing function is equal to the postal cost avoided. The Postal Service does not generate any savings. When initiated in the 1970s it was intended that from a financial perspective there would be no gain and no loss with the only driving factor being “space.” This is a hoax because in the real world the Postal Service is providing an economic windfall to Pitney Bowes for a service that is duplicative and could be performed by postal employees.
When combining discounts with consolidations, there is a disconnect in maximizing revenue and the productivity of the postal network. The stated purpose of consolidations is to maximize the efficiencies of postal processing and save the costs of the consolidated plants with the underlying justification that there is an excess of USPS processing capacity. Yet, the 35 Pitney Bowes plants are not included in the processing model even though their costs are directly related. It is illogical to reduce processing capacity of the postal network while continuing the subsidy to Pitney Bowes’ plants under the justification that USPS cannot process 100% of the mail volume.
The two principles conflict, justifying presort because of the inability of the Postal Service to process the reduced volume and continuing the presort relationship with Pitney Bowes. Because of alleged volume exceeding USPS capacity, this is a hoax beyond reasonable logic. It can only be assumed that there is more at play than generating savings from consolidations. The postmaster general has put his thumb on the scale in favor of presorting and postage discounts.
Pitney Bowes announces that 14 billion mail pieces are subjected to the discounted rates and every penny of revenue generated in mail processing for Pitney Bowes is a direct loss by the Postal Service. The relationship is so absurd that the Inspector General and the Attorney General should conduct investigations to determine if there is personal gain. It is painfully obvious that if there is excess capacity in the USPS’ processing network the alternate processing performed by Pitney Bowes is duplicative and should be discontinued.
The only alternative conclusion is that the American public that pays full undiscounted rates is being taxed beyond postal costs to provide profits for Pitney Bowes. This is illegal.
DeLauro Angered over Postal Service’s Official Notice Wallingford Processing Center Will Close Early
Hundreds of Middle Class Jobs Will Be Lost
April 26, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC--Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) released the following statement on United States Postal Service (USPS)’s official notice that they will close the Wallingford Processing Center in September. The closure is expected to cost over 360 employees their job. The closure was originally scheduled for February 2014.
“I am outraged at USPS’s decision to consolidate one the region’s newest mail processing centers ahead of schedule. Our postal workers do an extraordinary service for the community and they should be treated with the respect and gratitude they have earned. That includes taking every opportunity to solve USPS’ financial problems without destroying these good middle class jobs.”
“USPS has unilaterally sped up with closing process, ignoring the many members of Congress who have tried to engage with them. This will cost millions of Americans across the country their job, including many veterans.”
DeLauro has repeatedly asked USPS for answers about their actions, including the accelerated closures, and advocated for alternative solutions. She has strongly opposed closing mail processing centers, redefining First-Class mail, and closing retail Post Offices, instead pushing Congress to approve comprehensive legislation that would put USPS back on the path of financial solvency. DeLauro is a cosponsor of the Postal Service Protection Act of 2013, which would remove the retiree benefits pre-funding burden from USPS and transfer the billions in overcharges back to the Postal Service.
Two Democrats want to fix the postal service and they need your help
April 25, 2013
"While ending the prefunding requirement that no other government body or business faces is important, freeing up the postal service to find new sources of revenue would also be an enormous step. The agency needs to fund its retiree health care eventually, after all, even if the incredibly tight time frame Congress imposed upon it is unreasonable, and the artificial constraints imposed on what services the post office can offer makes that a much bigger challenge than it needs to be. Continuing cuts to the postal service—like cutting Saturday delivery—are likely just to accelerate its troubles, while the resulting job losses would be another challenge the jobs economy does not need."
APWU Web News Article 052-2013, April 26, 2013
Sign the Petition to Save the Postal Service
The APWU is asking union members and supporters to sign an online petition urging the White House to Save the Postal Service and Save American Jobs by supporting the Postal Service Protection Act (H.R. 630 in the House / S. 316 in the Senate).
The We the People petition, which was posted by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), must garner 100,000 signers by May 24 to generate a response from the White House.
“So sign the petition!” said Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid. “Please post it on your Facebook page and share it on any social media you participate in,” he said.
Postal Bill: Are We There Yet? - NAPUS.org
April 26, 2013
Congress is almost 5 months deep into its legislation session, yet the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs have yet to “mark-up” a postal relief bill. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have introduced legislation. The Sanders bill carries 20 cosponsors, and the DeFazio bill carries 127 cosponsors, including 3 Republicans; however, the legislation effort is not being embraced by the bipartisanship leadership of the respective committees. The latest issue of the eNAPUS Legislative & Political Bulletin [pdf] discusses that status of postal relief efforts, as well as activities relating to the future of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) and the Postal Service’s efforts to abandon it.
Dem congressman launches White House postal petition
April 24, 2013
A Democratic congressman has launched a petition with the White House seeking support for his legislation to revamp the U.S. Postal Service.
Rep. Peter DeFazio’s (Ore.) bill would end a requirement that USPS prefund future retirees’ healthcare, mandate that the service deliver the mail six days a week, give the service more revenue-generating opportunities and push the agency to bring back overnight delivery standards.
DeFazio’s bill contains the sort of proposals that many liberals and postal unions favor, and comes after USPS lost close to $16 billion in the last fiscal year – most of it from defaults on the prefunding requirement.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who played a big role in bipartisan postal legislation that the Senate passed in 2012, has introduced companion legislation.
“Does the Administration support HR 630 and S 316 to make these changes, save American jobs, and allow USPS to remain competitive?” the petition to the White House asks.
Click Here for more from TheHill.com
APWU Web News Article 049-2013, April 23, 2013
Ricin Suspect Released, New ‘Alleged’ Incident Reported
The suspect in the ricin case was released on April 23, and the Justice Department is moving to drop charges against him, according to published reports. Paul Kevin Curtis was charged on April 17 with sending tainted letters to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and a Mississippi judge, but no physical evidence linking him to the crime could be found. There have been no reports of ricin-related illness among recipients, postal employees or non-postal employees who handle government mail.
Contradictory accounts of another incident also were reported on April 23. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told the media of an “alleged ricin incident” at an Air Force base in Southeast Washington, but gave no details, according to the Washington Post. The newspaper also said that the Defense Intelligence Agency released a statement saying that no suspicious mail pieces had been found.
“Mail screening equipment alerted officials to the possible presence of a potentially harmful substance,” but “after thorough on-scene investigation, no suspicious packages or letters were located. The FBI took samples and will conduct further testing off-site,” the statement said.
The APWU will continue to monitor events closely, President Cliff Guffey said. “Our members’ safety is our top priority.”
Senator Carper Working to Put Postal Reform on President Obama’s Desk As Early As The July 4th Recess
April 24, 2013
At Postal Vision 2020, Senator Tom Carper indicated that he hopes to have a Postal reform bill on the President’s desk by the July 4th recess and if not then by the August recess. He expects to work toward passage of a postal reform bill within this time frame in the Senate through regular orders. This means he will hold a hearing and accept comments on a public draft of a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee drafted bill within the next month. Then after a short period of reviewing this testimony and comments submitted, the Committee will hold a business meeting to mark-up the bill. Given the Senator’s time frame, it would appear that mark-up could occur as early as late May or early June.
"Senator Carper indicated that a final bill may need to make a compromise that speeds the Postal Service’s ability to reduce the number of delivery days. He also indicated that Congressman Issa’s idea to shift mail delivery from door delivery to cluster boxes may be included in some manner in the final bill."
Click Here for more from CEPobserver.com
APWU e-Team Postal Legislation Update 4-19-13 [pdf]
Dramatic Workforce Reductions, Rate Hikes Likely for USPS
April 17, 2013
Lawmakers and U.S. Postal Service officials on Wednesday largely agreed on the need to reduce the agency’s workforce and increase rates where feasible in order for the agency to reach fiscal solvency.
Witnesses and members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said during a hearing that USPS must “right-size” its workforce to reduce overhead costs and improve the agency’s fiscal outlook. The Postal Service should also use its flexibility to raise rates within pre-set price caps, officials said at the hearing.
“I think everyone up here realizes there’s going to be some downsizing,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s ranking member. “We want people working, but we don’t want to destroy the entity at the same time.”
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Issa to USPS: No more excuses - TheHill.com
April 17, 2013
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) blasted Postal Service officials on Wednesday for not doing more to shore up the struggling agency’s finances.
“I don’t doubt or discount that Congress and the president have unfinished responsibilities and disagreement has delayed reform,” Issa says in his prepared opening statement for a hearing featuring Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and the nation's comptroller general, Gene Dodaro.
“But in the absence of congressional action, it’s time for Postal Service management to exercise full use of its authority to do everything possible to avoid a taxpayer bailout. This is a time for action and decisiveness, not a time for excuses and empty rhetoric.”
Postmaster General Urges Congress to Provide Delivery Schedule Flexibility to Address Broken Business Model
April 17, 2013
News Release No. 13-041
WASHINGTON — Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told a House committee today that the Postal Service is currently operating with a broken business model and the gap between revenues and costs will only get worse in the coming years unless the laws that govern the Postal Service are changed.
“Our financial problems are due to the restrictive laws that prevent us from fully responding to changes in consumer behavior,” Donahoe testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Any private sector company could quickly adapt to the market changes we have experienced, and remain profitable. However, we do not have all of the flexibility we need to adapt to a changing marketplace.”
Donahoe said the Postal Service continues to be very aggressive in cost-cutting actions it can take within the law, reducing its cost base by $15 billion since 2006. “No other organization, public or private, that I am aware of, can claim a similar cost reduction while continuing to function at a high level. And yet, we have to go much further and much faster and we are prepared to do so.”
Click Here for more from USPS.com
Envelope tests positive for ricin at Washington mail facility
April 16, 2013
Updated 8:18 PM EDT
Washington (CNN) -- An envelope that tested positive for the deadly poison ricin was intercepted Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol's off-site mail facility in Washington, congressional and law enforcement sources tell CNN.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was told the letter was addressed to the office of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. A laboratory in Maryland confirmed the presence of ricin after an initial field tests indicated the poison was present, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said.
The letter had a Memphis, Tennessee, postmark and no return address, Gainer wrote in an e-mail to senators and aides.
Sen. Claire McCaskill told reporters after a briefing for lawmakers that a suspect has already been identified in the incident. Members will be warning their home-state offices to look out for similar letters, she said.
Click Here for more from CNN.com
USPS News Link - Flag at half-staff
April 16, 2013
As a mark of respect for the victims of the attack in Boston, President Obama has ordered that the flag of the U.S. be flown at half-staff at all public buildings and grounds, military posts and naval stations and on all federal government naval vessels nationwide until sunset, April 20, 2013.
Under this order, postal facilities are required to fly the flag at half-staff. When flown at this position, hoist the flag to the peak for an instant and then lower it to the half-staff position. The flag should be raised to the peak again before it’s lowered for the day.
House Rejects Bill That Would Allow Uncle Sam to Fire Federal Tax Cheats
April 15, 2013
The House voted down legislation on Monday evening -- Tax Day -- that would allow the government to fire federal employees who fail to pay their taxes.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, revived a bill earlier this year that he shepherded through the House during the 112th Congress. The legislation passed the House last summer in a bipartisan vote, but the Senate never took it up, so it died. House lawmakers in the 113th Congress, however, rejected the measure this time around.
The bill (H.R. 249) would have applied to executive and legislative branch employees as well as Postal Service workers who are delinquent on their taxes and have not entered into an agreement with the government to repay the debt. The legislation also would have prohibited the government from hiring job applicants with seriously delinquent tax debt. The measure defined seriously delinquent tax debt as outstanding debt to the federal government for which a public lien has been filed. Under current law Internal Revenue Service employees can be fired for failing to pay their taxes.
Click Here for more from GovExec.com
Congress Refuses to Allow USPS to Fix Its Budget Woes
April 15, 2013
It's been a truly bizarre and painful experience watching the budget negotiations between Congress and the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS has consistently presented lifesaving ideas to an apathetic Congress that seems utterly unconcerned with saving a federal service that caters primarily to the economically disadvantaged and employs over 574,000 union members.
In 2012, the postal service lost $16 billion, largely due to the 2006 Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA) which mandates the Postal Service must fully fund retiree health benefits for future retirees. This is the only time Congress has demanded universal health care coverage.
Two years ago, I wrote an article for Truthout in which I spoke with Chuck Zlatkin, political director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union. He said the following about USPS' strange future-funding of retirees:
"It's almost hard to comprehend what they're talking about, but basically they said that the Postal Service would have to fully fund future retirees' health benefits for the next 75 years and they would have to do it within a ten-year window."
Naturally, USPS suggested that this be the first provision to axe, but Congress hasn't pushed for a repeal of PAEA. Next, USPS approached Congress with the idea of suspending Saturday mail delivery, but Congress prohibited USPS from making that change. In short, the Postal Service has approached the government time and time again with ways to save itself, but Congress has rejected every idea.
Well, a lot of it has to do with the whole catering-to-the-poor-and-employing-union-workers thing.
Click Here for more from TheNation.com
APWU e-Team Postal Legislation Update 4-12-13 [pdf]
Postal Workers Keep Delivering Contributions - RollCall.com
April 12, 2013
The political action committee of the American Postal Workers Union reported it gave $229,000 to federal candidates and committees during the first quarter of 2013. In 2011-2012 the PAC gave almost $2 million to federal candidates and committees. The Postal Workers Union had been pushing to keep Saturday mail delivery. The U.S. Postal Service announced this week that it would not eliminate Saturday mail deliver because Congress had barred it. The American Postal Workers Union is still working to postpone consolidations of certain mail processing centers. See 2011-2012 PAC financial profile.
Press Release - April 10, 2013:
Coburn Statement on USPS Board of Governors Decision to Back Away From Modified Delivery
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement in response to the announcement from the United States Postal Service Board of Governors that it has reversed direction in pursing modified Saturday delivery:
“It is unfortunate the USPS Board of Governors has reversed course and further delayed structural reforms that are needed to ensure the solvency and longevity of the postal service,” Dr. Coburn said. “Turning away from previous plans to institute a modified Saturday delivery significantly stalls any momentum Postal officials were building to responsibly manage their operation. Instead, Postal officials have succumbed to parochial-minded micromanagers in Congress. We need one postmaster, not 536.”
“This reversal cannot continue forever due to the changing business model of mail services. Nevertheless, I look forward to working further with the Postal Service on comprehensive reform that will protect taxpayers and ensure fiscal solvency of the organization.”
AFGE official criticizes health insurance proposals in Obama budget
April 11, 2013
In testimony delivered today before a House subcommittee, American Federation of Government Employees Public Policy Director Jacqueline Simon criticized proposals that the Obama administration has presented for altering the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
“The administration’s FY 14 budget piles on with additional cuts to retirement benefits for both CSRS and FERS employees hired before 2013. It is astounding that they would add more than $8 billion in cuts to FEHBP on top of this,” Simon said. “The administration calls this ‘modernization’ of benefits; we call it cannibalization.”
Click Here for more from AFGE Union Blog
Congress Starting Bipartisan Postal Talks, Carper Says
April 11, 2013
Congressional leaders will begin negotiating next week on bipartisan legislation to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, toward a goal of sending President Barack Obama a bill by August, a Senate committee chairman said.
Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, said he’s optimistic an agreement can be reached, with the Postal Service’s mounting financial troubles becoming obvious to the public.
“I think it’s eminently doable,” Carper, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said, said in an interview today.
“The board’s call to reopen and renegotiate the postal labor contracts is yet another sign that the Postal Service needs new executive leadership,” Fredric Rolando, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said in a statement. “Asking the NALC to renegotiate a contract that was just settled in January is insulting and unnecessary.”
Members of the American Postal Workers Union have already compromised, Sally Davidow, a spokeswoman for the union, said in an interview. They believe cuts should come from other places. “The Postal Service saved $3.8 billion on account of compromises that the APWU made during negotiations,” she said. “APWU members have done their part.”
Click Here for more from Bloomberg.com
Issa Announces USPS Hearing Next Week
April 11, 2013
WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today announced that he would convene a full committee hearing next Wednesday to examine the future of the United States Postal Service.
The hearing will explore a range of options to avoid a multi-billion dollar taxpayer funded bailout and restore USPS to long-term financial solvency.
“The Postal Service’s decision to first pursue modified Saturday delivery and then renege on its cost-cutting plan has seriously set back efforts to advance postal reform legislation,” said Issa. “This hearing will allow us to review a wide variety of options to bring the troubled agency back from insolvency.”
The modified six-day delivery schedule, announced on February 6th of this year, would’ve saved USPS approximately $2 billion per year. On April 10th, USPS reversed its earlier decision and decided not to pursue a modified delivery schedule.
Among the witnesses invited will be Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and members of the USPS Board of Governors, the Presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed body that governs the Postal Service.
The hearing, entitled “Options to Bring the Postal Service Back from Insolvency,” will be held Wednesday April 17th at 9:30 a.m. in Rayburn 2154 and can be viewed online here.
APWU Press Release - April 10, 2013
‘Congress is Killing the Postal Service,’ Guffey Declares
“The Postal Service cannot cut its way out of this manufactured crisis,” he said. “Congress must act now to pass meaningful postal reform – reform that restores financial stability to the Postal Service without destroying service or harming postal workers,” he said. “Congress must act now to prevent the Postal Service from implementing the devastating cuts in service caused by the closure of mail processing plants and post offices.
“We are calling on Congress to support legislation that addresses the cause of the Postal Service’s manufactured financial crisis, protects service standards, and preserves the nation’s vital mail processing network,” he said.
Obama Budget Calls for Postage Rate Hike, Other USPS Reforms - GovExec.com
April 10, 2013
President Obama outlined an overhaul to the U.S. Postal Service as part of his budget proposal Wednesday, calling for more flexibility to adjust to the agency’s “changing marketplace.”
The proposal includes a change to USPS’ retiree health benefits prefunding requirements and allows for a one-time postal rate increase, to be proposed by the agency’s board of governors. The plan would provide $30 billion in cash relief, savings and revenue by 2016, while saving the federal government $23 billion over the next 11 years, according to budget estimates.
Obama’s plan calls for the Postal Service to make payments into its retiree health benefits fund based on actuarial calculations, rather than the fixed amounts paid through 2016 currently required by law. It also would provide temporary relief to the agency by reducing payments into the funds by $10.6 billion over the next two years. These payments, in addition to the $11.1 billion USPS defaulted on in 2012, would be added to payments made over a 40-year amortization schedule, starting in 2017.
The White House would allow the USPS Board of Governors to institute “modest, one-time” rate increases for its market-dominant products, such as standard and first-class mail.
The plan includes a provision to allow the Postal Service to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. USPS announced Wednesday it has cancelled plans to change to a five-day schedule, after facing push back from Congress.
Obama included $11.5 billion in savings from returning a surplus in the Postal Service’s Federal Employees Retirement System fund. His plan also calls for the Office of Personnel Management to develop a USPS-specific calculation for future pension contributions that more accurately reflects the agency’s evolving workforce and pay structure. White House budgeters acknowledged the surplus estimate may be exaggerated; OPM has said the excess funds are closer to $2.6 billion.
Finally, Obama’s proposal would subject the Postal Service to PAYGO, which would require all additions to the federal deficit to be calculated upfront and prohibit borrowing for additional spending.
Obama’s reform plan is similar to one included in last year’s budget. Lawmakers failed to strike a deal to overhaul the agency last legislative session, but Obama vowed to continue to work with them to reach a compromise.
“The administration will work with the Congress and postal stakeholders to secure these necessary reforms,” the White House said.
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., plans to introduce a new reform bill soon.
“It is imperative that Congress and the administration come together around a set of meaningful reforms in the coming weeks to help the Postal Service survive and thrive in the long term and Chairman Carper plans to do what he can do to make that happen,” a committee aide told Government Executive. “He intends to have legislative language ready in the near future and remains hopeful that he will be able to move a bill in committee soon after.”
Postal Service backs down from plan to end Saturday mail delivery - TheHill.com
April 10, 2013
The announcement from the USPS board comes at a delicate time for the agency financially, after it lost a record $15.9 billion in 2012. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and other top officials have also urged lawmakers for months to pass broad postal reform legislation that would give the agency more freedom to cut costs and increase revenues.
Donahoe had said in previous years that the agency would need congressional approval to move away from Saturday delivery. But in February, Donahoe said that, with the government financed through a continuing resolution, he thought the agency had the authority to move ahead with its plans.
Congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Donahoe had overstepped his authority by rolling out the proposal, and the Government Accountability Office later said that USPS was bound by language in the continuing resolution which said that the agency needed to maintain “six-day delivery and rural delivery of mail at not less than the 1983 level.”
But Donahoe did have support from Republicans like House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the ranking member in the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Issa made clear on Wednesday that he was unhappy with the Postal Service’s decision to back down on its delivery schedule, saying it would only complicate negotiations over broader postal reform. The California Republican has previously criticized the agency for not using all the cost-cutting tools at its disposal.
“When USPS announced that it would alter Saturday delivery service, it made no mention that this change could only occur if Congress eliminated an old and well-known provision of law,” Issa said.
USPS will continue Saturday mail delivery - ABClocal.go.com
April 10, 2013
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Postal Service says it will delay plans to cut Saturday mail delivery because Congress isn't allowing the change.
The Postal Service said in February that it planned to cut back in August to five-day-a-week deliveries for everything except packages, as a way to hold down losses.
But a statement Wednesday from agency's Board of Governors notes that Congress has passed a spending bill that continues the long-time prohibition against reducing delivery days.
As a result, the board says it believe that Congress "has left it with no choice but to delay implementation" of the five-day-a-week plan.
See: Statement from the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors
Mailing Experts Hit Capitol Hill as Lawmakers Negotiate Postal Reform
April 9, 2013
“It is an opportunity for companies that rely on the Postal Service to discuss how well the USPS is meeting their needs, and see how we can better identify reforms that could make the USPS a better, more efficient, mail provider,” Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, the subcommittee’s chairman, said in a statement. “If the customers are happy, whether they use the Postal Service for their business or personally, they will keep coming back.”
Click Here for more from GovExec.com
House hearing will scrutinize federal employee health plan
April 9, 2013
A House Oversight subcommittee will debate possible changes to federal employee health benefits in a hearing Thursday, two months after Congress approved a pay freeze for federal workers.
The upcoming event will review the administration of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and include testimony from Jonathan Foley, OPM's director of planning and policy analysis.
In an announcement, the Oversight Committee said the hearing would look at proposed changes to the FEHBP expected from President Obama's budget, like allowing plan administrators to contract directly with drug makers.
Click Here for more from TheHill.com
Obama budget plan revisits small-bore budget cuts
April 8, 2013
WASHINGTON—Even as it adds fuel to battles over taxes and Social Security, President Barack Obama's budget will reprise lots of smaller bore proposals that have gone nowhere in a gridlocked Washington.
Ideas like higher Transportation Security Administration fees on airline tickets, the end of Saturday mail delivery and higher pension contributions for federal workers are the hardy perennials of Obama's budgets, reprised year after year, along with more widely known proposals like taxing oil companies and the rich. Many of the ideas have been seen as candidates for inclusion in broader deficit deals that have never come to pass.
"Obama's proposal to require federal workers to contribute more to their pensions is opposed by both his labor union allies and many Democratic lawmakers alike. And legislation to stem losses by the Postal Service by allowing it to cut Saturday delivery and close facilities has to pass through a gantlet of unions and lawmakers worried of shuttering facilities in their districts and states."
Click Here for more from DenverPost.com
The “Chained CPI” and Your Federal Retirement Package
April 7, 2013
"The president’s budget proposal now provides for a chained CPI. His proposal follows a similar proposal by the House Republican Study Committee to adopt the chained CPI. With support in both parties for the measure, we can assume there is a possibility that this proposal has an increased possibility of becoming a reality."
Click Here for more from FedSmith.com
Let’s Have A Vote | Burrus Journal
April 6, 2013
"The issues have been fully vetted, why not let Congress vote? The unions missed the mark in focusing exclusively on encouraging members to contact their representatives and demonstrating around buildings. After two years of publicity, the unions either have a working majority or they won’t get one. It is not the public or local representatives who are holding up legislation. They cannot vote until the Bill is called up by the Chairman. This is a one man show and the Chairman is calling the shots. What is needed? Perhaps, one thousand postal employees and their families, parked out front at his home and each of the offices in his District. American citizens must be informed that this single individual holds the future of postal services in his hands."
Click Here for more from BurrusJournal.org
A Call for Consolidated Hill Post Offices
Issa, Miller want to shutter House side branches to help overhaul Postal Service, save money
April 5, 2013
Recent history has shown that congressional efforts to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service brings out the sentimental side of lawmakers: They want to save the quasi-governmental agency from financial ruin, but not at the expense of their dearly loved hometown post offices.
That sentimentality, however, does not extend to the local post offices of the Capitol campus.
On April 4, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., formally requested that the Postal Service close three post offices on Capitol Hill.
Click Here for more from RollCall.com
Press Release: Manchin Protects and Strengthens Postal Service
Senator Manchin co-sponsors Postal Service Protection Act to protect West Virginia mail processing plants from closing
April 5, 2013
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) co-sponsored today the Postal Service Protection Act, which will address the United States Postal Service’s financial problems, prevent rural post office closures, protect Saturday delivery services and save American jobs. The bill would directly protect the Clarksburg mail processing plant from closing.
“In West Virginia, especially in our rural areas, post offices are more than just places to send and receive mail – they are truly the lifelines of their communities and the only way a town is able to stay connected,” Senator Manchin said. “I have been working closely with local officials to keep the Clarksburg mailing center open and will remain in close contact with them throughout this process. In the meantime, Congress must consider the Postal Service Protection Act to help fix the Postal Service’s financial problems while saving jobs, creating revenue and making sure our small businesses, seniors, veterans, and rural residents will continue to receive the mailing services they count on.”
The Postal Service Protection Act will:
(1) Protect 6-day delivery. This bill would require the Postal Service to deliver mail on Saturdays. The Postal Service recently announced that it will be eliminating Saturday mail delivery beginning in August. Cutting six-day delivery is not a viable plan for the future. Providing fewer services and less quality will cause more customers to seek other options. Rural Americans, businesses, senior citizens and veterans will be hurt the most by ending Saturday mail.
(2) Ensure the timely delivery of mail and protect mail-processing facilities. The bill would re-establish overnight delivery standards for delivering first-class mail, which would ensure the timely delivery of mail, keep mail processing facilities open, and protect jobs.
(3) Protect Rural Post Offices. This bill would give the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent post offices from being closed based on the effect on the community and its employees. Right now, the PRC only has the authority to review a decision to close a post office, but it does not have any binding authority to prevent the closure, even if it finds the decision to close was flawed.
(4) Establish new ways the Postal Service can generate revenue, by ending the prohibition on providing new products and services, such as:
• Providing notary services, new media services, issuance of licenses (drivers licenses, hunting licenses, fishing licenses);
• Contracting with state and local agencies to provide new services;
• Shipping wine and beer; and
• Responding to the shift toward electronic mail and away from hard-copy mail.
This bill would also create a commission composed of successful business innovators, representatives of labor, and small businesses that would provide recommendations on how the Postal Service can generate new revenue to succeed in the 21st century.
(5) Fix the immediate fiscal shortfall of the Postal Service by allowing the Postal Service to recover pension overpayments. The Postal Service Protection Act solves the most immediate financial problem facing the Postal Service by eliminating the requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits in just 10 years. No other agency or company in America is required to pre-fund its retiree health benefits, especially on such an aggressive schedule. Since 2007, this pre-funding mandate is responsible for about 80 percent of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties.
APWU e-Team Postal Legislation Update 4-5-13 [pdf]