2011 May 16 - postalnews blog

Archive for May 16th, 2011

BusinessInsider jumps on the “Postal BAILOUT!!” bandwagon

BusinessInsider.com has posted its own slap dash imitation of the Wall Street Journal’s recent attack on the US Postal Service- it starts like this:

Announcing a $2.2 billion first quarter loss for 2011, the U.S. Postal Service warned it would become insolvent unless Congress takes action.

The institution has already lost a shocking $20 billion since 2007.

The reasons are obvious.

As most readers know, that much is true- the obvious reason the USPS has “lost a shocking $20 billion since 2007″ is the $5.5 billion tax Congress slapped on the agency in 2006. Most readers will also have already guessed that the story doesn’t explain that. Instead, it provides such insights as: “To cover its losses, the Post Office took a soon to be depleted, $15 billion line of credit from the U.S. Treasury in the early 1990′s, and has been drawing on it ever since.” (How the USPS managed to cover $20 billion in “losses” with a $15 billion credit line isn’t explained.) Here’s another: “Thus USPS officials are now asking Congress to skip their annual $5.4 billion retiree health benefit prepayment and to adopt a pay-as-you go system; the same method currently used by states like California, that can’t meet their obligations.” Excellent analysis. If you ignore the plain fact that the USPS, unlike California, has no problem meeting its current retiree obligations.

The writer does get points for actually mentioning the fact that the USPS has in reality overpaid its pension obligations, but since this doesn’t match the story he wants to tell, he manages to twist the words around until he can use the magic word: BAILOUT!

In fact, the Postal Regulatory Commission claims that the Post Office has overpaid the system $50 to $75 billion throughout the years, and consequently it asks the Federal Government to assume the health care burden of its retired workers. The postal union says this would cover retiree [sic] who earned pensions prior to 1970, when the law that reformed the Post Office came into effect. Some kind of bailout is coming, or the end of an institution.

Nice touch getting the word “union” in there too, even if the sentence doesn’t make any sense.

via THE NEXT BAILOUT? The Post Office Has Lost Nearly $20 Billion In Four Years.

Dennis Ross’s Facebook page hijacked?

An odd side story concerning postal overseer Congressman Dennis Ross- it looks like someone has taken over his Facebook page. The last wall posting related to Ross was last Wednesday. Since then all of the posts are apparently from a group protesting oppression in Bahrain, complete with some graphic photos of apparent atrocities, and You Tube videos with Arabic captions.

US Representative Dennis Ross.

OSHA cites USPS facility in West Palm Beach with more than $164,000 in fines

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the U.S. Postal Service at 3200 Summit Blvd. in West Palm Beach for eight alleged safety violations following a November 2010 inspection. Proposed penalties total $164,200.

Six repeat violations with penalties totaling $155,200 include failing to appropriately mark aisles on the loading dock where forklifts were operating; exposing employees to being struck by the forklifts; allowing employees on the loading dock to operate a dumper at the edge of the dock without fall protection; exposing them to a fall of 50 inches; blocking aisles with mail cages; preventing employees from quickly evacuating in case of a fire; exposing workers to fall and electrical hazards by requiring them to climb a ladder and reach over with a wooden pole in order to use disconnect switches for battery chargers; incorrectly labeling containers used to store waste oil and solvents in the battery and oil waste room; and failing to perform monthly inspections with certification records of the hoist chain on the overhead crane that moved batteries weighing up to 3,000 pounds. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Two serious violations with proposed penalties of $9,000 include requiring forklifts to turn and travel in areas on the loading dock that were not kept clear of mail carts, thus exposing workers to being struck by the forklifts, and obstructing the exit route near the loading dock with boxes and equipment, decreasing the capacity of the exit route in case of evacuation. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Blocking aisles and placing workers in hazardous situations where they may be struck by a forklift are dangers that should have been identified and corrected by management without waiting for an OSHA inspection," said Cindy Coe, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. "The Postal Service has been cited by OSHA at other locations for these same violations, and we will not tolerate this type of disregard for employees’ safety and health."

The Postal Service has 15 business days from receipt of the latest citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale Area Office, telephone 954-424-0242. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

via 2011 – 05/16/2011 – US Department of Labor’s OSHA cites US Postal Service facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., with 8 safety violations, more than $164,000 in fines.

Congress, Administration lecture USPS on fiscal responsibility, but are now “borrowing” your TSP savings?

Politicians love to bash postal workers and the US Postal Service, despite the fact that opinion polls consistently show that the public has a much higher opinion of the post office than they do of, say, Congressmen. (Then again, maybe that’s why some politicians hate postal workers! )

All of which makes it so ironic that as of today, the Federal Government, crippled by the politicians’ inability to do their jobs, is borrowing the retirement nest eggs of postal workers and other federal employees to keep the government running. Yes, it’s true- Dennis Ross and Darrell Issa may think you’re overpaid, but when they get their paychecks next week, the money will come out of your Thrift Savings Plan:

Today, the United States will reach the statutory debt limit. Secretary Geithner sent the following letter to Congress this morning alerting them to actions that have be taken to create additional headroom under the debt limit so that Treasury can continue funding obligations made by Congresses past and present. The Secretary declared a "debt issuance suspension period" for the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, permitting Treasury to redeem a portion of existing Treasury securities held by that fund as investments and suspend issuance of new Treasury securities to that fund as investments. He also suspended the daily reinvestment of Treasury securities held as investments by the Government Securities Investment Fund of the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Thrift Savings Plan. For more information on these measures, please read this FAQ.

And yes, according to the law, your TSP will be made whole afterwards (at least according to the current law), but the cynicism that allows politicians to engage in this kind of childish brinksmanship using your money is pretty amazing.

via As US Reaches Debt Limit, Geithner Implements Additional Extraordinary Measures to Allow Continued Funding of Government Obligations.

Ross on CSRS overpayments, pre-funding: “Spare me…”

Self-appointed postal “watchdog” Dennis Ross isn’t about to let the facts get in the way of his agenda. Tweeting about the Wall Street Journal’s already thoroughly debunked editorial attack on the postal service, Ross tells critics to “spare” him arguments about the pre-funding requirement that threatens to bankrupt the agency.

WSJ: The Coming Postal Bailout http://on.wsj.com/klsXmD | no bailout in the House. Major labor reform needed. Spare me pre funding argumentMay 15 via web

Read the rest of this entry »

PMG names new controller

PMG Pat Donahoe has announced the appointment of Tim O’Reilly as vice president, Controller.

O’Reilly has served as acting vice president, Controller, since February. Among his duties is responsibility for certifying financial filings. He also manages Corporate Accounting, Accounting Services, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Management Controls and Integration, and the Corporate Audit Response Group. O’Reilly reports to Joe Corbett, chief financial officer and executive vice president.

Since joining the Postal Service in 1975, O’Reilly has served in a variety of roles, including manager of Accounting and manager of Budget, Pittsburgh District; financial services analyst and manager of Accounting, Eastern Area; manager of Finance and Business Analysis at headquarters; and Capital Metro Area Finance manager.

O’Reilly also served as Continuous Improvement executive manager at headquarters. In this position, he served as head of the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) program and oversaw LSS training for hundreds of employees. He also was responsible for projects designed to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.

O’Reilly is a member of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants and a graduate of Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

via USPS News Link – May 16, 2011.

Baucus Meets with PMG, Urges USPS to Detail a Long Term Plan for Montana Service

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus met with the U.S. Postmaster General this week urging him to listen to Montanans before finalizing any decisions to close facilities or reroute service in the state.

During the high profile meeting, Baucus showed Postmaster Patrick Donahoe a map of Montana and outlined for him the unique challenges facing rural Montanans and their Postal needs. He emphasized the importance of maintaining post office operations in Montana’s small towns, and the inconvenience to seniors and rural Montanans about having to travel long distances to get their mail if their local post office is closed. He also urged Donahoe to take into account Montanans’ input on Postal Service proposals to close processing centers in Butte, Helena, Havre, and Miles City which would result in the loss of up to 43 postal service jobs.

“Showing Donahoe a map of Montana really drove home the message that we need long term solutions for the Postal Service that don’t shortchange the service and jobs we rely upon back home. I recognize the Postal Service must get its fiscal house in order, but I’m asking the Postmaster to make sure that Montana is not unfairly affected by drastic plans to reorganize, that Montanans have access to the information being used to make these decisions, and that public input from Montanans who are affected by these changes is taken into account,” said Baucus. “I’m going to keep working with him to make sure Montanans have an opportunity to weigh in on Postal service changes that affect our main streets.”

Recent timeline:

* April 2006: Baucus opposes to a Postal Service proposal to consolidate the Helena Area Mail Processing center to Great Falls, due to concerns over the need for USPS to consider public input.

* January 2007: Postal Service responds to Baucus’ requests and announces that it is abandoning proposal to consolidate the Helena Area Mail Processing center

* March 18, 2011: US Postal Service announces plans to study possible consolidation of Butte, Helena, Havre, and Miles City

* May 2, 2011: Baucus writes letter to Postmaster General Donahoe urging him to create a long term plan to avoid continuing threats to jobs and service for Montanans.

* May 12, 2011: Baucus meets with Donahoe pushing the Postal Service to incorporate public input into its plans to reorganize service and to justify that any changes do not disproportionately affect Montanans.