House Committee to Vote on Issa BillTuesday, October 11th, 2011
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.