‘Congress is Killing the Postal Service,’ Guffey Declares

apwulogo“Congress is killing the Postal Service,” APWU President Cliff Guffey declared on April 10.

“While Saturday mail delivery has dominated recent discussions, little attention is being paid to other drastic measures the USPS is taking that will significantly delay mail and permanently damage the nation’s mail system,” he said. Since 2012, the USPS has closed 114 mail processing plants, one third of the nation’s mail processing capacity. Reneging on its commitment to lawmakers and communities, the agency announced last month that it was accelerating plans to close even more mail processing facilities. The USPS said it will consolidate 71 plants this year that were originally scheduled for possible closure in 2014.

“These closures will eliminate jobs, harm communities, and delay mail delivery every day — Monday, through Saturday,” Guffey said. They will drastically curtail local mail sortation and will virtually eliminate overnight delivery. Service standards have already been lowered.

“And for what?” Guffey asked. A study prepared for the Postal Service indicated that the revenue lost from consolidations could be as high as $5.2 billion (1) , and the Postal Regulatory Commission has concluded that the net savings could be as low as $46 million annually (2) .

“In addition, the Postal Service has reduced hours at approximately 6,500 post offices and plans to cut hours at 6,500 more,” he noted.

“The Postal Service cannot cut its way out of this manufactured crisis,” he said. “Congress must act now to pass meaningful postal reform – reform that restores financial stability to the Postal Service without destroying service or harming postal workers,” he said. “Congress must act now to prevent the Postal Service from implementing the devastating cuts in service caused by the closure of mail processing plants and post offices.

“We are calling on Congress to support legislation that addresses the cause of the Postal Service’s manufactured financial crisis, protects service standards, and preserves the nation’s vital mail processing network,” he said.

(1) Postal Regulatory Commission Case No. N2012-1, APWU Exh. XE (Tr. 4/906)

(2) Postal Regulatory Commission Advisory Opinion, Case No. N2012-1, at 1-3, 142.

Issa “disappointed” USPS Board chose to obey the law

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., issued the following statement in response to the United States Postal Service announcement that it has reversed its decision to pursue modified Saturday delivery:

“I am disappointed that the Postal Service has backed away from plans to implement a modified Saturday delivery schedule that polling indicates the American people understand and support.  This reversal significantly undercuts the credibility of Postal officials who have told Congress that they were prepared to defy political pressure and make difficult but necessary cuts.

“Just a few months ago, when USPS announced that it would alter Saturday delivery service, it made no mention that this change could only occur if Congress eliminated an old and well-known provision of law.   Despite some assertions, it’s quite clear that special interest lobbying and intense political pressure played a much greater role in the Postal Service’s change of heart than any real or perceived barrier to implementing what had been announced.

“While I will continue to work on comprehensive postal reform legislation that can pass both the House and Senate, this reversal will clearly be a setback to such efforts.”

USPS Board tells PMG to delay 5 day delivery until Congress gives the OK

Statement From the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors:

“The Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service met April 9th and discussed the Continuing Resolution recently passed by Congress to fund government operations. By including restrictive language in the Continuing Resolution, Congress has prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule for mail and packages, which would consist of package delivery Monday through Saturday and mail delivery Monday through Friday, and which would have taken effect the week of August 5, 2013.

“Although disappointed with this Congressional action, the Board will follow the law and has directed the Postal Service to delay implementation of its new delivery schedule until legislation is passed that provides the Postal Service with the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule. The Board believes that Congress has left it with no choice but to delay this implementation at this time. The Board also wants to ensure that customers of the Postal Service are not unduly burdened by ongoing uncertainties and are able to adjust their business plans accordingly.

“The Board continues to support the transition to a new national delivery schedule. Such a transition will generate approximately $2 billion in annual cost savings and is a necessary part of a larger five-year business plan to restore the Postal Service to long-term financial stability. According to numerous polls, this new delivery schedule is widely supported by the American public. Our new delivery schedule is also supported by the Administration and some members of Congress.

“To restore the Postal Service to long-term financial stability, the Postal Service requires the flexibility to reduce costs and generate new revenues to close an ever widening budgetary gap. It is not possible for the Postal Service to meet significant cost reduction goals without changing its delivery schedule – any rational analysis of our current financial condition and business options leads to this conclusion. Delaying responsible changes to the Postal Service business model only increases the potential that the Postal Service may become a burden to the American taxpayer, which is avoidable.

“Given these extreme circumstances and the worsening financial condition of the Postal Service, the Board has directed management to seek a reopening of negotiations with the postal unions and consultations with management associations to lower total workforce costs, and to take administrative actions necessary to reduce costs. The Board has also asked management to evaluate further options to increase revenue, including an exigent rate increase to raise revenues across current Postal Service product categories and products not currently covering their costs.

“The Board continues to support the Postal Service’s five-year business plan and the legislative goals identified in that plan which will return the Postal Service to financial solvency. The Board additionally urges Congress to quickly pass comprehensive postal legislation, including provisions that would affirmatively provide the Postal Service with the ability to establish an appropriate national delivery schedule.”

Oversight Subcommittee Considers Changes to Federal Employee Health Plans

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census, chaired by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), will hold a hearing on the Federal Employee’s Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). The hearing, which follows the Oversight Committee’s work on federal employee compensation, will review the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) administration of the program.

The hearing will give Members an opportunity to learn more about the FEHPBP’s current benefits, categories of enrollment and premium fees, as well as proposed legislative changes designed to improve the program. The Obama Administration is expected to propose several changes to the program in the president’s FY2014 budget, including granting OPM the authority to offer additional health plan types and contract with prescription drug providers directly.

FEHBP, which includes 230 plans nationwide, is the largest employee-sponsored health insurance program in the country. Each year it provides $45 billion in health care benefits to approximately 8.2 million employees, retirees and dependents.

Hearing Details:

“The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program: Is it a Good Value for Federal Employees?”

Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census

10: 00 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses:

Jonathan Foley
Director, Planning and Policy Analysis
U.S. Office of Personnel Management

William A. Breskin
Vice President of Government Programs
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

Thomas C. Choate
Chief Growth Officer
UnitedHealthcare

Mark Merritt
President and CEO
Pharmaceutical Care Management Association

Jacqueline Simon
Public Policy Director
American Federation of Government Employees