2012 April - postalnews blog

Archive for April, 2012

Fact-checking the PMG’s comments on health benefits

Yesterday we told you about the Postmaster General’s claim that the USPS has never talked about post office “closures” when a simple Google search proves otherwise. But the PMG also seems to have a unique understanding of the words “competition” and “largest”.

“Competition” comes up in this clip when Donahoe explains how the USPS can cut 10% off of its health insurance costs by taking postal workers out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit plan. How? By creating competition! This probably comes as a surprise to postal workers, who currently get to choose their health plan from dozens of companies that compete for their business. Under Donahoe’s plan, the USPS would contract with a single insurer, and that would be the company that would cover postal employees and retirees. So, according to the PMG, competition is when you don’t get to choose from among dozens of competitors?

Donahoe also explains in the clip that one reason the USPS will be able to get such a good deal is that it will be the “largest” insurance plan in the United States, with one million enrollees. Sounds impressive! Until you stop and think- after all, postal workers are currently part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, which also includes the rest of the federal government. Isn’t FEHBP already “larger” than any USPS plan could possibly be? Of course, the answer is yes- and not just yes, but a really, really BIG yes- FEHBP currently insures nine million Americans. So even if the USPS pulls out, FEHBP would still be eight times the size of any USPS health plan.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe on Newsmakers | C-SPAN.

PMG on post offices: “closure is a word we’ve never used”

In an appearance on C-Span’s Newsmakers, Postmaster General Pat Donahoe says that the USPS isn’t going to suddenly close thousands of post offices on May 15, when the moratorium on post office and plant closures is set to end. In fact, the PMG claims that the USPS has never used the word “closure”- but says the word is “all over the news and gets people riled up and in some cases for no good reason.” Donahoe told his interviewers that the USPS would simply be “evaluating” offices, and any changes would be “incremental”.

The PMG’s statement is contradicted by a press release (see below) that the USPS issued just last month. That document refers to a “plan to study 3,600 Post Offices around the U.S. for possible closure” and notes that “most closures or consolidations would have to take place starting after May 15, 2012, and be completed by August 31, 2012.” Another press release last summer referred to plans to “to identify and study nearly 3,700 under-utilized Post Offices for possible closure”. And the USPS Annual Report submitted to the PRC in November notes that “Our current restructuring plans include studies to evaluate the potential closure or consolidation of mail processing operations, retail units, Post Offices, and other facilities”.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe on Newsmakers | C-SPAN.

U.S. Postal Service Statement on Election Mail Process

Guffey: Senate bill “a mixed bag”

APWU News Bulletin 12-2012, April 27, 2012 | PDF

“We must now turn our attention to the House…We must re-double our efforts to Save America’s Postal Service.”
– APWU President Cliff Guffey

The Senate passed an amended version of the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789) on April 25, and legislative action on postal reform will now move to the House of Representatives.

“Although the bill is flawed, the amended version is far better than the original,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “That is a result of the tremendous effort of APWU members, postal customers, and elected officials who appreciate the importance of the Postal Service to American life. Thank you for your hard work,” he said.

“With the moratorium on the closure of mail processing plants and post offices set to expire on May 15, we must now turn our attention to the House. We expect to face very tough challenges there,” Guffey said. “But we will do everything we can to get a good bill. We call on our members, small businesses, individual customers, and lawmakers to re-double our efforts to Save America’s Postal Service.”

“House leaders have not yet given any indication of how they plan to proceed,” said Myke Reid, APWU Legislative and Political director.

The House could consider H.R. 2309, a bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), which would destroy the Postal Service. More than half of the members of the House are co-sponsors of another bill, H.R. 1351, which postal unions support, but Rep. Issa, the chairman of the House committee with jurisdiction over the Postal Service, has refused to allow it to come up for a vote. The House also could consider the Senate bill. Read the rest of this entry »

$25 million daily USPS loss? More like $300 thousand!

Yesterday the Postmaster General went on the right wing Fox Business Channel to talk postal finances, and made the claim that the USPS is losing $25 million a day. It’s a claim that also pops up in many of the news stories that have been published about the Senate vote on S. 1789. Where did that number come from? Let’s take a look at the USPS’s most recent financial statement.

Through February, the postal service’s net loss is $5.7 billion. That covers 152 days of the current fiscal year. If you divide $5.7 billion by 152, you get an actual daily loss that’s even worse than the PMG claimed- $37.5 million a day.

However- the USPS publishes two different bottom lines these days- one shows the financial results PAEA style (including the PAEA required pre-funding of future retirees’ health benefits). The other (“Controllable Operating Income/Loss”) shows the net results without pre-funding- in other words, the way every other organization does business.

Without PAEA, the USPS loss so far this year is just $46 million. That works out to $302 thousand a day. So of the total year to date net loss, actual postal operations account for just 8/10ths of one percent. PAEA’s arbitrary accounting gimmicks account for 99.2%!

Politicians like Darrell Issa and Dennis Ross like to point out that the USPS would be facing a loss this year even without PAEA- and they’re right. PAEA doesn’t account for ALL of the postal service’s financial woes- just 99% of them!

USPS February 2012 Financials

Video- Postmaster General: “We Are Losing $25M Every Day”

The Postmaster General appeared on Fox Business to talk about postal finances:

Ralph Nader Calls for PMG to Resign

Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader today called for Postmaster General Donahoe’s resignation. Several consumer non-profits joined him in this letter, including Public Citizen, Consumer Action, the Gray Panthers, and Essential Information. The Postmaster General Donahoe is “actively presiding over the demise of one of our country’s greatest founding institutions,” said Nader.

In December 2011, Congressman DeFazio called for the Obama administration to fire Postmaster General Donahoe. From the House floor he said, “This guy, this so-called postmaster general, should be fired because of a lack of any imagination or initiative…He’s proposing the death knell for the great United States Postal Service.”

In his letter, Nader drew attention to the fact that, if the U.S. Postal Service was not required by Congress to prepay retiree health benefits of the next 75 years by 2012, nearly 80 percent of the USPS’s deficit would be eliminated. Nader stated that this is “an imposition unheard of in either the corporate world or by any other government agency.” He continued by pointing out that the federal government even owes the U.S. Postal Service $80 billion in overpayments that the USPS has made to two retirement funds, the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Yet, Nader notes, the Postmaster General remains virtually silent on these issues. Instead, he says, the Postmaster General makes “the case for shutting rural post offices, slashing 150,000 postal employees’ jobs, ending Saturday delivery, and extending delivery dates as if they do not produce a spiral of decline and loss of customers who will not come back.”

“In a phrase, you are not up to the job!” Nader concludes.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.


Jose Ferrer Honored on Forever Stamp

NEW YORK, April 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Today, multi-talented actor, director, writer, musician and producer Jose Ferrer‘s life and accomplishments were commemorated on a First-Class Forever stamp by the U.S. Postal Service as part of its Distinguished Americans stamp series. The stamps, available nationwide today, can be purchased online at usps.com/shop, by calling 1-800-STAMP-24 or by visiting Post Offices.

The portrait featured on the stamp is an oil painting by Daniel Adel of Cold Spring, NY, based on a photograph of Ferrer under the art direction of Antonio Alcala of Alexandria, VA, who designed the stamp. Read the rest of this entry »

Text of S. 1789 as passed by the Senate

The text of S.1789, as passed by the Senate (fullscreen version):

S. 1789 as passed by the Senate

Consolidations on hold?

Postalmag.com has a link to an article in an Illinois APWU newsletter that suggests that the USPS may be holding off on some planned consolidations until Congress finalizes postal reform legislation. When (if?) that will happen is anyone’s guess at this point- the bill that passed the Senate yesterday has no chance of House passage in its present form. Likewise, the bill proposed by Darrell Issa in the House would never pass the Senate- and it’s far from certain that the House would approve it.

But given that the Senate measure would postpone many of the postal service’s planned cutbacks, the PMG may not want to risk the ire of Senators by plunging ahead with plans he might have to reverse down the road.

Here’s the relevant excerpt from the Northwest Illinois Area Local’s newsletter, dated Tuesday, April 24:

USPS puts Optimization Plans on "Hold"

Employees are by now aware that the staffing changes planned for 5-19-12 are on hold. Carol Stream In-Plant Manager John Colao stopped canvassing for tour 2 retreat rights and has not issued any abolishment letters at CS. CS will continue to get Fox Valley LO-11 mail. Palatine Plant Manager Chuck Sciurba called me on 4-19-12 to confirm that the changes are on hold per Headquarters and no staffing changes will occur on 5-19-12. He confirmed that all Palatine abolishment letters will be rescinded. The consolidation of Chicago PARS mail to Palatine is also on hold. The reason that USPS has placed optimization plans on hold is because the Senate is discussing S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act. The 79 amendments submitted as of 4-19-12 have been reduced to 39. There is talk of an early out being offered but no official announcement.

Needless to say, this is just one plant- but assuming the report is accurate, it’s unlikely that Carol Stream is the only facility putting its plans on hold.

via The Local Line.

Bernie Sanders on The Ed Show: Progress on Post Office debate?

Bernie Sanders joins Ed Schultz to discuss today’s Senate vote to approve S.1789.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Ed Show: Progress on Post Office debate?.