Letter Carriers Bring in Top Financial and Policy Experts to Advise on Postal Reforms

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) today announced the retention of investment bank Lazard Group, LLC and former assistant to President Barack Obama for Manufacturing Policy, Ron Bloom, as financial advisors in connection with issues relating to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Fredric V. Rolando, President of the NALC, announced the retention of its advisors to 1,500 regional and local NALC leaders gathered in a national conference to consider the current USPS financial crisis and the long-term strategic, structural and business challenges facing the USPS.

President Rolando issued the following statement:

"The nation’s letter carriers are committed to preserving six-day-a-week universal postal services to every address in every village, town and city of the nation. NALC and our financial advisors are prepared to work cooperatively with the USPS, the Congress, the White House and all other postal stakeholders and constituencies to resolve current cash flow and financial issues and develop a viable long-term, pro-growth business plan for the Postal Service.

Our efforts will be fact-based, non-political, non-ideological, and focused on the continued provision of universal service to the public and the preservation of hundreds of thousands of good middle-class jobs. We are confident that Lazard and Mr. Bloom-both of whom have extensive experience helping to revitalize numerous large and complex business enterprises around the world-can provide valuable assistance to all stakeholders who share our commitment to maintaining and growing this vital national resource."

The Postal Service is the hub of a $1.2 trillion mailing industry that employs eight million American workers centered on its unique ‘last-mile delivery network.’ NALC is currently engaged in collective bargaining with the USPS. The current five-year collective bargaining agreement expires on November 20, 2011.

via Letter Carriers Bring in Top Financial and Policy Experts to Advise upon Postal… — WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —.

NALC proposes seven point plan to solve postal “crisis”

Oct. 15, 2011 — NALC President Fredric V. Rolando has written a letter to the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the “super committee.” He outlines seven proposals the NALC would like the committee to consider.

October 11, 2011

Dear Member:

As a member of the Special Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, you are charged with fairly reducing the deficit over the long run while doing all you can to attack the American jobs crisis in the short run. I write on behalf of the 280,000 members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), which represents active and retired employees of the U.S. Postal Service, a crucial infrastructure service of the U.S. economy and the hub of a $1.3 trillion industry that employs 7.5 million private-sector employees across America. Continue reading

Issa overrules majority of House members, refuses to allow vote on Lynch bill

(Perhaps one of the constitutional scholars in the Tea Party can tell us which article provides that a bill supported by a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives can be defeated “because Darrell says so”?)

From the American Postal Workers Union:

House Panel Approves Postal ‘Destruction’ Bill

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved an amended version of the Issa-Ross postal bill on Oct. 13 by a vote of 22-18. All but one Republican (Rep. Todd Platts of Pennsylvania) voted in favor of the bill; Democrats voted against it.

The APWU has denounced the bill, H.R. 2309, as a “reckless assault on postal services and postal employees.” The bill demands that the USPS implement $3 billion worth of cuts in post offices and mail processing facilities in a two-year period. It also would reduce “door delivery” by 75 percent.

In addition, the legislation would gut collective bargaining: The amended bill prohibits postal unions and the USPS from negotiating protection against layoffs.

Bill Guarantess Layoffs

The Postal Service announced in August that it wants to reduce the workforce by 220,000, and is seeking authority to lay off as many as 120,000, including tens of thousands of military veterans. H.R. 2309 would authorize layoffs; the wholesale elimination of post offices and mail processing facilities demanded by the legislation virtually guarantees that massive layoffs would take place.

The bill also would empower a new “solvency authority” to unilaterally cut wages and abolish benefits.

“This legislation would destroy the Postal Service as we know it,” President Cliff Guffey said. “It would lead to drastic cuts in service to the American people, and it would pave the way for privatization of this crucial public service.

“The bill violates fundamental principles of our nation: fairness, the right of workers to engage in free collective bargaining, and respect for seniority,” he said.

“The APWU will continue the fight to save America’s Postal Service,” Guffey said. “We will be joined by our brothers and sisters in the other postal unions, veterans, senior citizens, and communities that rely on a robust Postal Service.”

Other Amendments

In addition to the amendment that would prevent bargaining over layoffs, several other amendments were adopted: An amendment offered by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) would remove postal employees from the federal injury compensation program and would require the USPS to develop a separate program for workers who are hurt on the job. It also would force disabled employees to retire as soon as they are eligible.

An amendment offered by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) would permit the Postal Service to eliminate up to 12 delivery days per year rather than requiring an immediate abandonment of Saturday delivery. An amendment offered by Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) would limit to 10 percent the number of rural post office closures.

An amendment offered by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) to evaluate the impact of layoffs on veterans was adopted. The amendment was introduced in response to an ad sponsored by postal union and VoteVets, a prominent veterans’ organization, decrying the layoffs of tens of thousands of veterans that H.R. 2309 would cause. The ad appeared in Washington publications that are widely read by lawmakers on Oct. 12 and 13.

“Two of the adopted amendments were clearly regressive,” said APWU Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid, referring to the prohibition on negotiating limits on layoffs and removing postal employees from the federal injury compensation program. “Some of the others may appear to improve the bill,” but they just “nibble around the edges” without changing its basic character, he said.

“If passed, H.R. 2309 would be a disaster for the USPS and for postal employees.” The bill must be passed by the full House and Senate and signed by President Obama before it can become law, he pointed out.

“H.R. 2309 fails to address the fundamental cause of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties,” Reid added. The bill does nothing to correct the requirement to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees, which forces the USPS to fund a 75-year liability in just 10 years, he said. No other government agency or private business is required to make these payments, which cost the Postal Service approximately $5.5 billion annually. The bill also fails to address billions of dollars in USPS overpayments to federal pension accounts, Reid noted.

GAO Report as a Backdrop

An Oct. 13 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that rejected the findings of the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) regarding USPS overpayments to the Civil Service Retirement System served as a backdrop to the deliberations. Two independent actuarial studies performed at the request of the OIG and PRC concluded that the USPS has overpaid $50 billion to $75 billion into the account, due to a faulty funding formula.

The OIG and PRC provided a vigorous rebuttal to the GAO report, and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) called it “terribly flawed.” Nonetheless, at the hearing, Rep. Buerkle and Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) cited the GAO findings and voiced reservations about their previous support for H.R. 1351, the bill postal unions are supporting.

The APWU issued a statement denouncing the GAO report, calling it “seriously flawed.”

“Fortunately, there are many in Congress who reject this discredited report and will continue to tell the truth about the need for reform and fairness on this issue,” the union said.

“The report was clearly designed to undermine support for H.R. 1351,” Reid said, “so APWU members will have to make sure members of Congress remain steadfast in their support for this important legislation.”

H.R. 1351 would help provide the Postal Service financial stability by allowing the Postal Service to apply the pension overpayments to the pre-funding obligation. It would provide the USPS with financial stability it needs to modernize and adapt to changes in communication.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), has 226 co-sponsors – including 29 Republicans. The number of co-sponsors is significant because it represents a majority of the members of the House of Representatives; nonetheless, Rep. Issa has refused to allow it to come up for a vote.

“I am deeply disappointed that Rep. Issa would thwart the will of the majority and prevent Congress from debating a bill that has wide bipartisan support,” Guffey said. “But he will not be able to stop the American people for long!”

House Panel Approves Postal ‘Destruction’ Bill.

Guffey to Appear on ‘The Ed Show’ on MSNBC tonight at 10

APWU President Cliff Guffey will appear — once again — on The Ed Show on MSNBC tonight, Oct. 13, at 10 p.m. EDT. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is considering the Issa-Ross postal bill today, and is expected to approve the legislation, which the union president has called “a reckless assault on postal service and postal employees.”

Guffey will discuss the ongoing campaign to save America’s Postal Service. The APWU is vigorously opposing the Issa-Ross bill (H.R. 2309), and is organizing support for H.R. 1351, which would provide the USPS with much-needed financial stability without any burden on taxpayers. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), has 226 co-sponsors, including 29 Republicans.

Schultz gave an enthusiastic defense of a public Postal Service on his Oct. 12 program.

via Guffey to Appear on ‘The Ed Show’.

NALC responds to GAO report

The Daily Caller reports on today’s GAO report predictably (BAILOUT!), but it also provides a response from the National Association of Letter Carriers:

“The GAO is simply wrong in denying the overpayment, and in doing so it differs with the USPS, the Office of Inspector General (of the Postal Service,), the Postal Regulatory Commission, two independent actuaries, and legislators from both parties and both chambers of Congress who’ve addressed the issue in current legislation,” said the statement.

“It’s absurd to claim that the money owed the Postal Service would not solve its financial problems by asserting that they result from changes in consumer mail use and a business model weakness — given that over the past four fiscal years, despite the recession, mail delivery netted a $611 million operational profit. And saying that transferring the money would result in an increased liability is like a restaurant telling a consumer who was overcharged that refunding the overcharge would require taking the money from someone’s account. An overpayment needs to be refunded, period.

“Moreover, it’s ironic that the GAO is focused on soaking the USPS when the non-postal federal government, which includes the GAO has funded only 40 percent of its pensions, vs. 99 percent for the USPS.”

via USPS | GAO | Bailout | The Daily Caller.

West Virginia delegation urges USPS to consider impact of plant consolidations on WV jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Jay Rockefeller today led West Virginia’s Congressional delegation in sending a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe expressing their strong concerns about the potential mail processing consolidations in West Virginia.

The delegation urged USPS to seriously consider the impact that the consolidations would have on jobs, and requested that the USPS consider moving and keeping mail processing operations in West Virginia as it seeks to meet its budget challenges.

“I’m deeply concerned about the negative impact that the proposed mail processing consolidations would have – especially on West Virginians’ jobs,” said Rockefeller. “The good jobs that the Postal Service provides are important to our state, and consolidation would have negative effects on hard working West Virginians who rely on those jobs and on our communities who rely on their professionalism and service. We must work to keep jobs here in West Virginia, and I urge the USPS to look at ways to do just that and take advantage of the exceptional workforce we have.”

“While I understand that the Postal Service is facing a series of tough choices, I do not believe that West Virginia and our workforce should have to bear a disproportionate share of cuts,” Manchin said. “West Virginians are the hardest workers I’ve ever met, and the Postal Service should take advantage of our excellent workforce instead of cutting jobs. My office stands ready to help any workers who may lose their jobs in this process, and I encourage the Post Office to give anyone who is laid off the help they need. It’s clear the Post Office needs to change how it operates, and I will continue to push them to make changes that don’t affect the hardworking frontline employees.”

“The Postal Service is making grand promises about maintaining mail delivery services but is falling short in providing the facts and details we need to know whether these promises are anything more than just wishful thinking. With so many consolidations and closures happening at once, we must continue to press the Postal Service to ensure that it seriously and fully considers the concerns of the American people and how its consolidation proposals will realistically affect their daily lives,” said Rahall.

“West Virginia’s mail processing facilities provide hundreds of good-paying jobs. I strongly urge the Postmaster General to carefully examine the economic consequences of shutting down all but one West Virginia facility. With such high unemployment, we need to do everything we can to protect the jobs we have while addressing pressing budget challenges,” stated Capito.

“The post office closures in our area are very disappointing,” said McKinley. “Local post offices are an important institution in many rural and small-town communities. The uncertainty surrounding the postal service concerns all West Virginia lawmakers, and we were compelled to urge the Postmaster General and other officials to stop these closures. It’s also vitally important that we address the postal service’s funding challenges head-on, in a way that is fair to customers, postal workers and taxpayers.”

rockefeller

Unions join VoteVets.org to oppose GOP attacks on USPS

The following is being run as a full page ad in Politico, The Hill and CQ Today, in an effort to remind members of Congress that many of the postal workers who would be fired under Darrell Issa’s “reform” legislation are (unlike the sponsors of the bill) veterans:

APWU Veteran October 2011

More from the APWU:

The APWU has united with a prominent veterans’ organization and other postal unions to urge members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to vote no on H.R. 2309 when the committee deliberates on Oct. 13. [Click here for live Webcast – committee deliberations begin at 10:30 a.m.]

The bill would force the Postal Service to lay off workers, including tens of thousands of veterans.

In a print ad appearing in publications [PDF] that are widely read by members of Congress, the APWU and VoteVets point out that “The USPS hires more veterans than any other civilian employer in the country.

“Some in Congress want to fire them,” the ad continues.

“Putting tens of thousands of America’s veterans out of work won’t fix the Postal Service,” the ad notes. “Congress talks a lot about patriotism, but there’s nothing patriotic about destroying the USPS, devastating mail service, and telling our veterans they’re not wanted.”

The Postal Service has announced it wants to reduce the workforce by 220,000, and is seeking authority to lay off as many as 120,000. H.R. 2309, which was introduced by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), would grant authority to a newly-established control board to carry out layoffs, despite any provisions in union contracts that limit such actions. The bill says that employees who are eligible for retirement must be laid off before employees who are ineligible, and dictates that retirement-eligible employees with the longest service must be separated first.

If 120,000 postal workers were laid off, approximately 26,000 veterans would be affected.

The Issa-Ross bill calls for $1 billion worth of cuts in post offices in the first year and $2 billion worth of cuts in mail processing facilities in the second year. If facilities are shuttered, veterans would be among the employees laid off, even if they are covered by the Veterans Preference Act.

“H.R. 2309 would destroy the Postal Service as we know it,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “In the process, it would devastate many dedicated workers, including thousands of military veterans.

“This mean-spirited bill fails to address the fundamental cause of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties,” said Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid. ”It does nothing to correct the requirement to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees, which forces the USPS to fund a 75-year liability in just 10 years, he said. No other government agency or private business is required to make these payments, which cost the Postal Service approximately $5.5 billion annually. The bill also fails to address billions of dollars in USPS overpayments to federal pension accounts, Reid noted.

“We call upon APWU members to step up their opposition to H.R. 2309 and their support for H.R. 1351,” Reid said.

H.R. 1351 would help provide the Postal Service financial stability by allowing the Postal Service to apply the pension overpayments to the pre-funding obligation. The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), has 225 co-sponsors — including 29 Republicans — but Rep. Issa has refused to allow it to come up for a vote.

Also sponsoring the ad, which will run on Oct. 12 and 13, are the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association.

House Committee to Vote on Issa Bill

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will vote Oct. 13 on a bill that the APWU has denounced as “a reckless assault on postal services and postal employees.” The bill, H.R. 2309, is sponsored by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL). The committee will Webcast its deliberations, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. The Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy approved the bill on Sept. 21 by a vote of 8-5.

The Legislative and Political Department has asked APWU members whose representatives serve on the committee to contact them and urge them to vote no.

“The bill would destroy the Postal Service as we know it,” President Cliff Guffey said.

The Issa-Ross bill calls for $1 billion worth of cuts in post offices in the first year and $2 billion worth of cuts in mail processing facilities in the second year.

It also would abrogate the Collective Bargaining Agreement by granting authority to a newly-established control board to carry out layoffs, despite any provisions in union contracts that might limit such actions. The bill says that employees who are eligible for retirement must be laid off before employees who are ineligible, and dictates that retirement-eligible employees with the longest service must be separated first.

“This is an outrageous assault on the fundamental principles of unionism – fairness and respect for seniority,” Guffey said.

The Postal Service has announced it wants to reduce the workforce by 220,000, and is seeking authority to lay off as many as 120,000, including tens of thousands of military veterans. H.R. 2309 would authorize the layoffs.

The bill also would empower a newly-created “solvency authority” to unilaterally cut wages and abolish benefits.

“H.R. 2309 fails to address the fundamental cause of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties,” said Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid. The bill does nothing to correct the requirement to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees, which forces the USPS to fund a 75-year liability in just 10 years, he said. No other government agency or private business is required to make these payments, which cost the Postal Service approximately $5.5 billion annually. The bill also fails to address billions of dollars in USPS overpayments to federal pension accounts, Reid noted.

“We call upon APWU members to step up their opposition to H.R. 2309 and their support for H.R. 1351,” Reid said.

H.R. 1351 would help provide the Postal Service financial stability by allowing the Postal Service to apply the pension overpayments to the pre-funding obligation. The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), has 225 co-sponsors – including 26 Republicans – but Rep. Issa has refused to allow it to come up for a vote.

via House Committee to Vote on Issa Bill.

Delivering Postal Service Reform – By Darrell Issa

Darrell Issa has written a piece entitled “Delivering Postal Service Reform” for the National Review. Having read the article, we have edited it slightly for brevity, while preserving the spirit of the piece, as well as its complete analysis of the situation:

Bailout
Bailout
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Bailout
Bailout

The full text of the original article is available at the link below:

Delivering Postal Service Reform – By Darrell Issa – The Corner – National Review Online.

PostCom: White House pressuring Congress to insert USPS rescue, rate increase in Super Committee package

From Postcom:

Word has it that the authorizers in both the Senate and the House are under pressure from the White House – and even from elements of their own Leaderships – to provide a package of postal legislation that can be inserted into the Super Committee package that is now being negotiated – including the President’s proposal to enact the exigency rate increase

via PostCom: Postal News and Information from Around the World.