It is no secret that I strongly oppose HR 756, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017

Via Thomas Benson, President – APWU Lake Geauga Area Local #1204
February 24, 2017
I believe that if this bill passes as it is worded currently, it has the potential to have some very adverse effects on retirees of the US Postal Service. When we look at the changes it proposes, such as forcing all retirees aged 65 and older into Medicare, we must look at the political climate as well as the agenda of the 115th Congress. As I have said in a previous article, there is a lot of gray area in HR 756. I do not feel comfortable agreeing to and/or making changes to the retirees Medicare options when there are so many threats against Medicare currently.

Simply put, if the company you work for claimed it could be out of business in 6 months, would you go out and purchase a home or a new car? Its highly unlikely you would make any life changing decisions or commit to any thing until you knew and understood what the company’s plans are for the future.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has made it well aware his intent to fundamentally change how Medicare works. In an article on AARP.com it states:

“Ryan would convert Medicare from a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” program. Instead of a guaranteed level of coverage, a dollar amount would be set for Medicare beneficiaries to pay premiums on insurance they would buy from private-sector companies (this is why Ryan calls it “premium support”). Ryan’s plan would also increase the eligibility age from 65 to 67.

A former chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan wants to limit how much the government spends on Medicare. In 2015, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of the federal budget, a proportion expected to grow as the number of beneficiaries rises.”

President Trump as well as the Republican Congressional Representatives have made it well known that they intend to repeal the Affordable Care Act. AARP.com further states:

“Although it has received little attention, a full repeal of Obamacare would eliminate Medicare benefits created by the law. Among other things, it improved Medicare’s financial outlook by slowing the growth of spending and clamped down on fraud, waste and excessive payments. It also enabled tens of millions of Medicare beneficiaries to get free preventive services such as flu shots and screenings for cancer and diabetes. And between 2010 and 2015, nearly 11 million Medicare beneficiaries saved $20.8 billion on prescription drugs—an average of $1,945 per person — because of the gradual closing of the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole.

While Obamacare remains controversial — in part because of its mandate to purchase health insurance and because premiums have increased for some plans—the Medicare provisions have proved popular with beneficiaries.”

There is a lot of uncertainty on what the outcome will be on Medicare as Congress formulates its plans. Its the uncertainty that worries me. I’m a firm believer we must look ahead and weigh all the “what ifs” and examine the “gray” areas before committing and supporting any bills that will change retirees futures.

And as a proud Union member as well as Local President, I feel it’s not right to change the choices and benefits that have been promised to us after years and years of employment. I know that others out there feel the same as I do. This was promised to us as a condition of our employment. We should have the same benefits and rights of every federal sector employee. To put this burden on only postal retirees is not in good conscience and opens Pandora’s box that will allow other rights and benefits to be taken away in the future.

Source: Benson’s Postal Legislation Blast on Facebook

3 thoughts on “It is no secret that I strongly oppose HR 756, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017

  1. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    Atlanta Metro Area Local 32
    Past or current office held, if any
    Workroom Floor Steward
    No Brother Stidman, I am not drinking the right-wing Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation Kool Aid, I was responding to Brother Benson’s post. Did you read it?

    If we are to believe its premise that Medicare is soon to be doomed by those evil dang Republicans, what makes you think they will leave our FEHB alone? Especially when THEY are the reason the PAEA pre-funding mandate is the cause of the USPS financial problems that THEY will use an excuse to “save us” by imposing some kind or draconian measures, possibly later this very year.

    So if we can agree that the Republicans set this all in motion in 2006 when President Bush signed the PAEA into law, then why do we disagree on the fact that the 2017 Republicans will be any different or will be any less harmful to us?

    In other words why do you seem to be counting on the 2017 Republicans fixing the mess they created in 2006 when I am confident we can only count on them making it worse and our only option is political maneuvering to try to limit the degree of the damage they are going to inflict on us?

    I really don’t know or even want to know all of the reasons why the four Unions signed on to HR 756, but it is obvious to me that they are not all selling us out at the same time or all committing political suicide for no good reason. And I am willing to trust them for a time as HR 756 works its way through Congress or withers and dies on the vine, as I expect that it will. Because whatever they are up to is likely to be spoiled by telling us (and by extension the Republicans) what they are up to.

    At this point in time, I see HR 756 as about the same predicament as the “Impeach Trump” movement is in. I don’t “like” either one, 756 or Trump. But be very careful what you wish for, especially if you fail to realize what the alternatives are. As bad as Trump may be, I promise you that Pence will be far worse, even to the point that you will wish you had Trump back.

    So when HR 756 dies its slow death in Congress, as I expect it will, you who opposed it early can pound your chests and claim that you delivered the blow that defeated the HR 756 beast because you opposed it loudly from its inception.

    But remember that won’t help you much if the Republican imposed “fix” turns out to be so much worse that it makes us all wish we had HR 756 back.

    Me? My options remain open. I support giving President Dimondstein some space to operate politically early in the HR 756 process. And just like President Dimondstein, I can still choose to pull my support of HR 756 at any point in the future and oppose it then.

    I don’t think most who are leading the premature “Oppose HR 756” movement have the luxury of ever being able to change their position to support HR 756 because many of the early HR 756 opposition leaders appear to me to be former candidates for national Union offices who lost their last Union elections. Realize that in itself gives the appearance of self-serving political motivation rather than sincere efforts to protect our Membership, whether true or not. Never forget that the knives we wield cut both ways.

    In other words if you are sincere in your beliefs and motivations, and you could be potentially “tainted” by the mere accusation that your leadership in the HR 756 opposition movement is politically connected to, or motivated by, your recent loss of election to a national Union position, you should consider finding others to lead the HR 756 opposition movement who don’t have that kind of baggage and support them from behind the scenes. -I’m just trying to keep it objectively real here…

    Whatever one’s position is on HR 756 and whatever latitude one might have to change their position on HR 756, I think this link will be helpful to track the status and progress of HR 756:

    https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/756/all-actions?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22756%22%5D%7D&r=2&overview=closed#tabs

  2. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    Terre Haute Local #618
    Past or current office held, if any
    (Jeff Kehlert, Tony McKinnon, Thomas Benson in 2019)
    Mike, are you drinking the right-wing Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation Kool Aid again. What happened to Bernie Sanders think! Medicare is not bankrupt and neither is the post office. People pay into Social Security and Medicare from the time the enter the workforce in their teens’. For most people mortality gets you long before you draw out what you pay in. Think about all the people who died prematurely before collecting one thin cent of either program. All the heart attacks and cancer victims. All the industrial and automobile accidents. Then there are the people who just didn’t make it to an average lifespan due to natural causes. I don’t believe that stuff and there is nothing you can tell me or anyone else who takes the time to honestly think about.

    As far as the post office we make a ton of money. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. In the 2010 “watershed” APWU National Agreement the post office shed $4.3 billion dollars of labor costs. In fact, during the hearings before the House and Oversight Committee for H.R. 5714 the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016 a Congressman held up our contract and mentioned those same concessions. The postal service has postponed billions of dollars of capital improvements due to the pre-funding of retiree benefits at levels seen nowhere in the private or public sector. So, they are not spending their money on improving their facilities. In fact, hundreds of mail processing facilities have been closed in recent years which has supposed to save the postal service money. Thousands of small town post offices have either shuttered or cut hours. Many of these offices are staffed by non-career employees or multiple offices share one postmaster. While the post office has gone from a workforce of 800,000 to a workforce of under 500,000 employees. We deliver 25 to 30 percent of parcels for our competitors. Even though it is popular to say mail volume has dropped by 25% to levels not seen since 1981 we had the 800,000 people at that time. Our issues are not money or what we pay our employees. Our issues are we have labor unions who have gave up the real fight to create “smoke and mirror” battles on fronts that have no consequence to our members.

    I believe Thomas has a very valid point in many ways and I appreciate the fact he is comfortable enough with himself to express those thoughts. It truly sad we currently don’t have a Political/Legislative Director who reports why we support or oppose such legislation. It is truly sad we must wait while the time passes away for the current President to explain why we support H.R. 756, the Postal Reform Bill of 2017. Yes, I said “Bill” and not “Act” as Mr. Benson said in an earlier article this is a “Bill”. You can’t sugar coat that and our members need to know why our leadership supports H.R. 756.

  3. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    Atlanta Metro Area Local 32
    Past or current office held, if any
    Workroom Floor Steward
    If the federal government can’t afford to pay 15% a and more of the federal budget to finance Medicare, and I don’t disputed that it can’t… how then will the USPS be able to afford funding its share of our primary FEHB benefits?

    According to this page: https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-facts/decade-of-facts-and-figures.htm

    The USPS takes in around $70 billion in operating revenue annually.

    The some $5 billion per year PAEA penalty plus the high fuel costs adsorbed in recent years (when FedEx and UPS added “Fuel Surcharges” to their prices) is a recipe for certain disaster for any Not For Profit business model. $5 billion is around 7% in additional operational costs.

    So why didn’t Congress simply add a 10% surcharge to the price of postage to cover the bogus PAEA penalty and help with defraying added fuel costs? Yes, some USPS business would go elsewhere, but at least the USPS could avoid operating at a loss.

    Yet as simple as passing additional costs on to the customer, as every *real* corporation does, the USPS is only allowed the option of absorbing additional costs by eating itself because the USPS is prohibited from raising postage rates above the rate of inflation. Yet the PAEA is around a 7% operating cost increase by itself, over and above the rate of inflation.

    So again, if the federal government can’t afford to pay 15% a and more of the federal budget to finance Medicare, how then will the USPS be able to afford funding its share of our primary FEHB benefits with our insanely constrained pricing structure?

    Show me the money Brother Benson, show me the money!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *