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NALC responds to PMG’s workroom floor video

NALC-LOGOAug. 30, 2013—Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe issued a video message on Aug. 14 that was played on the workroom floor. The video provided an assessment of developments in Washington on the legislative front and addressed the subject of a separate Postal Service health plan.

“In both cases, what the PMG did not say was more important than what he did say,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said.

On postal legislation, Donahoe said in the video that he was encouraged by the introduction of S. 1486 by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), which followed the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s passage of Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) postal bill in the House.

But what the PMG failed to note was that neither bill provides a real solution to the postal financial crisis. In fact, both bills would continue the mandate to massively pre-fund retiree health benefits (after a brief moratorium), and both would pay for that mandate by slashing service and jobs.

Both bills also call for elimination of Saturday and door delivery, at the cost of nearly 100,000 postal jobs, and for slower mail service, which would drive even more business away and deepen the USPS’ financial crisis.

“The PMG’s comment that there are some positive aspects in both bills is bizarrely beside the point,” Rolando remarked. “Sure, there are a number of individual provisions in the bills that are good in isolation—but both bills would hasten the destructive downsizing and service cuts we’ve faced for years, and both would attack the collective-bargaining rights of postal employees.

“Mr. Donahoe should be demanding much, much better from Congress,” the president said.

The postmaster general also talked about the issue of health benefits and his plan to create a separate Postal Service health plan, either inside or outside of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). He mentioned that he is working with the unions on this issue—but he failed to make clear that neither the NALC, nor the other postal unions, will support any plan that involves leaving FEHBP.

And although Donahoe rightly focused on the importance of taking full advantage of Medicare benefits as a way to reduce the Postal Service’s costs for retiree health benefits—indeed, it is crucial for reducing the crushing cost of pre-funding—he did not mention that fully integrating those benefits into Medicare can be easily achieved within FEHBP.

“NALC is committed to working with the Postal Service on reducing health care costs for both employees and the agency,” Rolando said. “But we are insisting that any legislative changes in this area be proposed as part of a broader reform package to be offered as an alternative to the destructive bills now before the House and Senate.”

Such a package, the president said, would reject service cuts and measures aimed at undermining the collective-bargaining rights and living standards of city carriers and other postal employees, and would focus instead on mutually acceptable reforms on health care, pension valuations, pre-funding, new products, pricing and governance provisions.

Visit the Legislation and Politics section of the NALC website for fact sheets and talking points on the bills.

PMG defends “DonahoeCare”, doesn’t explain why HE won’t be using it

Postmaster General Pat Donahoe has sent a letter to the editor of Post & Parcel defending his proposed health insurance program for postal workers and retirees. The PMG admits in the letter that most of the claimed savings come from shifting costs to Medicare.

Not surprisingly, the PMG doesn’t explain why, if DonahoeCare is so good, he and his top executives will continue using the allegedly inferior, more expensive Federal Employee Health Benefit Program.

The GAO also estimated that if the proposed health plan had been implemented in 2013, most postal employees and retirees would have had similar or lower premiums compared to the selected Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) plans, with similar or higher levels of coverage for many services. Under the Postal Service sponsored health care plan, a small minority of employees electing full family coverage would pay more for health care benefits, but the overwhelming majority would pay far less immediately, and all employees would pay less over their careers. On average, premiums under the proposed Postal Service’s plan would be 16 percent lower than FEHB premiums.

Read more Letter to the Editor: On the US Postal Service health care plan | Post & Parcel.

PMG tells postmasters no layoffs

At the NAPUS convention this week, Postmaster General Pat Donahoe assured Postmasters that despite the downsizing the organization is facing, no one will lose his or her job:

Donahoe assured NAPUS members no one will lose their jobs as a result of downsizing and consolidations. “We will find a job for you somewhere in the organization,” he pledged. “We’ve never had to lay anyone off and we won’t do that. Are there bugs? Yes, there are, as we make these changes; there is a safety net down there.”

He said the Postal Service needs the authority to expand new products and services and get into areas of new opportunity, especially in the digital environment.“We need to continue to move along the way we’re going,” he stressed. “These things have to be addressed and resolved: get the legislation behind us, get the debt down to a reasonable amount and focus on the future going forward. We think there are big opportunities.”

The convention also heard from USPS COO Megan Brennan, who was slightly more conditional in her comments on the subject of job security:

“If we’re flexible and work together, we’ll ensure everyone has a landing spot,” she assured Postmasters. She talked about plans for having mini career conferences in certain geographic areas to identify opportunities for affected Postmasters.

Brennan encouraged everyone who is affected to update their profiles in eCareer and let their managers know what they would like to do in the short term. “There will be landing spots,” she pledged, “but I need you to be flexible and help us with that.”

Read more: NAPUS

Video: Postmaster General’s State of the Postal Service message

From the US Postal Service:

APWU: PMG seeks to end Federal Employee Health Benefits Program for postal workers and retirees

Greg Bell
Executive Vice President

(This article will appear in the Sept/Oct. 2013 edition of The American Postal Worker.)

gregbellPostmaster General Patrick Donahoe renewed his call to remove postal employees and retirees from the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) in testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on July 17.

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Postmaster General Urges Congress to Fix Postal Service Business Model to Address Marketplace Realities

Flexibility and Authority Needed to Close $20 Billion Gap  

Postmaster-General-Donahoe

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told a House committee today the Postal Service continues to face systemic financial challenges because it has a business model that does not allow it to adapt to changes in the marketplace and it does not have the legal authority to make the fundamental changes that are necessary to achieve long-term financial stability.

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Video: PMG’s State of the Postal Service report

In his latest State of the Business video, PMG Pat Donahoe describes the progress USPS has made mid-way through 2013, along with some of its plans for the rest of the year.

Donahoe says the Postal Service made notable improvements in delivery times thanks to employee efforts to raise service performance. “Our service continues to remain at all-time highs with the on-time delivery of all the mail — First-Class Mail, periodicals and standard packages,” he says.

Revenue also increased by $400 million, due to increased package business and Standard Mail. The PMG says the new seven-year delivery contract USPS recently signed with FedEx offers substantial savings over the previous agreement.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2013, Donahoe describes upcoming changes to Priority and Express Mail. Both services will go under the name Priority Mail. To help customers determine exactly when they can have their packages delivered, USPS will offer Priority Mail 1-Day, 2-Day and 3-Day services along with Priority Mail Express.

Along with guaranteed delivery times, customers will benefit from the Postal Service’s progress in scanning. Donahoe notes that USPS has produced 2.5 billion more scans this year than last.

“This is going to give us tremendous coverage and the real-time scans our customers want,” he says. “That means a lot more package business and a lot more revenue.”

The PMG closes the video by thanking employees for their continued hard work. “You’re doing a great job,” he says.

Video: PMG Pat Donahoe talks to Judy Woodruff

May 3 Bloomberg — U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe talks about the Postal Service’s projected loss, challenges and the need for legislation in Congress to help the agency cut costs. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s "Conversations With Judy Woodruff." Source: Bloomberg

Read more: U.S. Postmaster General Donahoe: Judy Woodruff – Businessweek.

Postmaster General Urges Congress to Provide Delivery Schedule Flexibility to Address Broken Business

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told a House committee today that the Postal Service is currently operating with a broken business model and the gap between revenues and costs will only get worse in the coming years unless the laws that govern the Postal Service are changed.

“Our financial problems are due to the restrictive laws that prevent us from fully responding to changes in consumer behavior,” Donahoe testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Any private sector company could quickly adapt to the market changes we have experienced, and remain profitable. However, we do not have all of the flexibility we need to adapt to a changing marketplace.”

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News flash: USPS Warns it might run out of cash soon

Alan Robinson notes that a reporter has suggested that the US Postal Service might run out of cash come October- and be unable to meet it’s payroll:

The report was apparently based on comments made at a recent “Industry Focus Group”.

In a related item, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Postmaster General told Congress that “the post office will run out of money this year unless it gets help… as he sought permission to cut delivery to five days a week.”

POTTERBefore you get too excited about the PMG’s dire warning (or reporter MacFarlane’s “scoop”), I should tell you that the PMG who issued that warning wasn’t Pat Donahoe- it was Jack Potter, and the Plain Dealer story is from 2009.

And they wonder why their warnings aren’t taken seriously?

Read more: USPS May Not Have Cash to Meet Payroll in October | Courier Express and Postal Observer.