(This article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
John L. Marcotte, Legislative & Political Director
The Postmaster General and the USPS are lobbying Congress. What are they asking legislators to do?
- Reduce letter delivery to five days per week;
- Deny new hires a “defined benefit” retirement (pension) plan;
- Force injured workers into a poverty retirement.
If these points look familiar, they should! They are all part of the severely flawed Senate bill (S. 1486) sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
There is no doubt the Postmaster General’s fingerprints are all over this terrible legislation. Promising savings, the PMG is slowing down the mail, closing processing facilities, selling post offices and destroying postal service to America.
But the savings the PMG predicted haven’t materialized. What has happened instead is delayed mail, poor service and letter carriers delivering mail well into the night.
The lobbying is not just happening in Washington, DC. Presentations in the field to members of Congress include the same misleading propaganda.
What exactly are USPS officials presenting?
Healthcare – Management says Congress should allow the Postal Service to establish a USPS-sponsored health care program to create $8 billion in savings by “managing health care” for active members and retirees.
Five-Day Delivery – Claiming that 80 percent of the public supports it, the Postal Service wants Congress to allow five-day delivery.
Pension Control – The USPS is asking Congress to implement a “defined contribution” retirement plan for new employees rather than a “defined benefit” retirement plan. This would make new hires eligible for TSP only.
Service Changes – Managements says the USPS needs a “streamlined” process to petition the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) for changes.
PRC Reviews – The USPS says it needs a “streamlined” process for after-the-fact reviews of Postal Service actions by the PRC, as well as a streamlined process for reviewing complaints.
Arbitrators – The USPS states it is a problem that arbitrators cannot operate like Chapter 11 bankruptcy courts, where the financial condition of the USPS would be considered. They claim it is a problem that arbitrators are not allowed to adjust statutory benefits, such as retiree health care and pensions. Postmaster General Donahoe wants Congress to mandate that arbitrators consider the financial condition when issuing interest arbitration awards.
Appeal EEOs – The USPS says it needs the right to appeal EEO class-action decisions in federal courts.
Donahoe will not let the truth get in the way of what he wants, the destruction of the Postal Service as we know it. What is his vision of the future for the Postal Service? A Postal Service that relies on the extensive use of subcontracting and does as little mail processing, delivery, transportation and retail work as possible. The postal workers that are left would have their wages, health care and retirement set by arbitrators who are forced to ignore everything but the financial condition of the USPS. This will mean the return of “collective begging” for postal workers and retirees.
The USPS made $1 billion profit on operations in the first six months of fiscal year 2014, but presents it as a $1.9 billion dollar loss, citing a retiree health care pre-funding payment the Postal Service never made.
What can you do? Stand up and fight back! Get active in your local and get the real facts on postal reform. Then educate your friends, neighbors and communities. Join in the effort to educate your senators and representatives and hold them accountable at the ballot box.
The threat is real. This PMG will not stop – and neither will the APWU!