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Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ introduces legislation to reform USPS’s profit-exhausting mandates

Yesterday, Rep. Waters introduced H.R. 3916, the Protecting Post Offices Act, which would reduce the operating costs of the US Postal Service to provide continued service in urban and rural communities and save 28,000 American jobs. She is joined by American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO in support of this much needed legislation to stabilize the US Postal Service.

In 2011, USPS was expected to post a deficit in excess of $8 billion. “It has become clear that the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) has had an adverse impact on Postal Service’s finances preventing them from becoming profitable once again. In the current environment of reduced mail volumes, inability to raise prices and the exceptional pre-funding payments into the Retiree Health Benefits Fund, the US Postal Service (USPS) has experienced incredible loss.”

The Protecting Post Offices Act would replace mandated Retiree Health Benefits Fund pre-funding amounts with actuary numbers for payment starting in 2012. H.R. 3916 would also prevent the closure of post offices in high poverty and unemployment areas, saving inner city and rural post offices from closure and preventing the loss of 28,000 letter carrier and postal worker jobs.

“The pre-funding requirements and restrictions on providing non-postal services mandated by PAEA has placed USPS in a very compromising position hampering it’s ability them to generate profits and stay competitive in this tough economy. As a result of this, USPS is slated to close 667 post offices across the nation, putting 28,000 Americans in jeopardy of losing their jobs. Our urban and rural communities have been hit the hardest by joblessness. We must do all we can to prevent further job loss in America.”

H.R. 3916 will also allow USPS to provide non-postal services, assisting them in revamping their business plan to increase profits and functionality of local post offices. Lastly, this bill will allow the Post Master General to change rates for market-dominant products without the approval of the Postal Regulatory Committee, allowing them to stay competitive with other mail servicing companies like FedEx and UPS.

“While the postage stamp remains one of America’s best bargains, it comes at a significant cost to the US Postal Service. This loss in profits has not only put the American postal workers in danger, it has also placed residents in urban and rural areas in jeopardy of losing reliable daily postal services, possibly missing out on time sensitive items like medication. I am confident that through the passage of this piece of legislation we will not only protect the American postal worker but assist in making the US Postal Service profitable again by keeping local post offices open, and increasing their functionality to better serve their communities.”

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Final APWU Contract now available

The official 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement [PDF]between the USPS and the APWU is being printed and will be ready for shipping shortly, Director of Industrial Relations Mike Morris has announced.

In the meantime, copies can be viewed and downloaded from the APWU Web site. Orders for printed copies will be accepted online at the APWU Store, by phone at 800-789-0072, or by mailing an order form to APWU Store, PO Box 221494, Chantilly VA 20153.

The contract will be available in two formats: The spiral bound edition may be purchased for $4 per copy, and a traditional paperback version may be purchased for $3 per copy.

APWU Contract 2010-2015

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Republicans on House panel approve bill to cut postal, federal pensions

From the American Postal Workers Union:

A House committee approved legislation on Feb. 7 that would cut pensions for postal and federal employees, while increasing the contributions the workers must make toward their retirement. The party-line vote was 22-16, with Republicans voting in favor of the retirement cuts and Democrats voting against.

“This bill is an outrageous attack on postal and federal employees,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “Some politicians are quick to cut benefits for middle-class workers, but they fight to the death to protect tax breaks for the super-rich.”

“Despite its name, the ‘Securing Annuities for Federal Employees Act’ would cut retirement benefits for postal and federal workers and make them pay more for less,” said Legislative Director Myke Reid. “This bill would amount to a pay cut for our members.”

The legislation (H.R. 3813) was shepherded through the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee by a pair of politicians who are well-known opponents of postal workers: Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL). The two are co-sponsors of H.R. 2309, a bill that would destroy the Postal Service as we know it.

Increases Costs, Cuts Benefits

H.R. 3813 would increase the amount postal and federal employees contribute to their retirement by 1.5 percent, with the increase phased in over three years, beginning in 2013.

Employees with less than five years of service would face an increase of 3.2 percent. (Employees in the Federal Employee Retirement System [FERS] currently pay 0.8 percent of salary into the pension fund. Employees enrolled in the Civil Service Retirement System [CSRS] currently pay 7 percent to their retirement system.)

It also would reduce pensions for employees with less than five years of service by calculating annuities based on the average of employees’ high-five salary years instead of their high-three years, which is the current method. In addition, their pensions would be calculated at a lower rate of 0.7 percent per year, down from 1 percent.

“This bill would amount to a pay cut for our members.”

– Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid

The measure would eliminate the supplemental annuity provision, which augments benefits for employees who retire before they are eligible for Social Security benefits at age 62.

Following committee adoption of the bill, the House Rules Committee voted to merge it with the H.R. 7, a $260 billion highway bill, which the House is expected to consider during the week of Feb. 13.

APWU members are encouraged to contact their representative as soon as possible and urge them to oppose the bill as it is currently written.

via House Panel Approves Bill to Cut Postal, Federal Pensions.

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Three Long Island Postal Workers Charged With Using Their Positions to Steal Cash

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that three United States postal workers have been arrested and charged with stealing more than $4,000 in separate incidents in post offices in Massapequa Park, Hicksville, and Uniondale.

This morning, DA Investigators arrested Harold Gutierrez, 49, of Uniondale; Rita Haynes, 56, of Roosevelt; and Lisa Jimenez, 45, of the Bronx and charged them with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree. Gutierrez was also charged with misdemeanor Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree. Each defendant faces up to four years in prison if convicted and is scheduled to be arraigned later today in First District Court, Hempstead.

The investigation of these cases was conducted by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and referred to the DA’s Office for prosecution.

Rice said that between July 2010 and September 2011, Gutierrez stole $1,471 from the Massapequa Park Post Office by improperly ringing up customers. Gutierrez would falsely enter customer transactions or omit retail customer transactions entirely, keeping the cash for himself. Gutierrez used the cash to pay for personal living expenses, and admitted to investigators that he had also stolen DVDs from Netflix and Blockbuster mailings.

In a separate incident, Rice said that between November 2009 and February 2011, Haynes stole $1,542 from the Hicksville Post Office by failing to scan or enter retail customer transactions and short-ringing customers’ stamp purchases, a process where Haynes would charge a customer less than their actual purchase was worth and then keeping the difference.

In another separate incident, Rice said that November 2009, Jimenez, working at the Uniondale Post Office, sold money orders for $500 and $1,000 to two different customers. Jimenez then voided the money orders, unbeknownst to the customers, and then fraudulently created two money orders in the same amounts made payable to two of her family members.

“These three defendants violated the trust placed in them by their employers and the innocent customers they were hired to serve,” Rice said. “Corruption at any level of government is unacceptable and I will continue to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies to root out waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Deputy Chief William Wallace of the Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the cases for the DA’s Office. Gutierrez is represented by Daniel Russo, Esq. Jimenez is represented by Eric Sachs, Esq. Attorney information is unavailable for Haynes.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Senator Carper statement on USPS financial results

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, released the following reaction to the announcement that the U.S. Postal Service lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2012:

“While today’s announcement that the U.S. Postal Service lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 is disappointing, it unfortunately does not come as a surprise. While the magnitude of the losses themselves is bad enough, the fact that they came during a period of the year that is usually the most successful for the Postal Service is truly shocking. The Postal Service has reiterated that if nothing is done, it could be insolvent by fall 2012.

“Our troubled economy – coupled with the continued migration to electronic forms of communication – is putting the future of the Postal Service in jeopardy, and today’s news shows that it’s happening faster than expected. I have been saying for some time now that Congress needs to come together on a plan that can save the Postal Service and protect the more than eight million jobs that rely on it. The bipartisan 21st Century Postal Service Act (S.1789) strives to help the Postal Service adjust its operations to reflect the changing demand for its products and services while also giving it tools that can help it be successful in the 21st century. This bill – the only bipartisan proposal from Members in either Chamber – presents a comprehensive solution to the Postal Service’s financial challenges. If we do nothing, our nation could face a future without a Postal Service.

“While the situation facing the Postal Service is dire, it is not hopeless. That is why we need to pass this bipartisan and comprehensive bill as soon as possible. It is my hope that Congress and the Administration can come together on this plan in order to save the Postal Service before it’s too late.”