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politics

Postal workers alliance sends letter to Issa opposing latest reform proposal

The four unions representing rank and file postal workers have sent the following letter to Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the Ranking Member:

alliance

Dear Mr. Issa and Mr. Cummings:

We write to share our views on the hearing held on April 8, 2014 on the President’s proposals in the FY 2015 budget regarding the U.S. Postal Service. We write on behalf of nearly 500,000 postal employees who live and work in every Congressional District in America and who belong to our unions. We respectfully request that this letter be included in the record of the hearing. Read the rest of this entry »

Maine Congressman Calls on Speaker Boehner to Bring Postal Reform Legislation to the Floor after Recess

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Mike Michaud is calling on Speaker John Boehner to prioritize legislation that would promote the stability and sustainability of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Rep. Michaud has sent a letter to the Speaker urging him to take action following the April recess. If Speaker Boehner refuses to act, postal facility hours will be cut, service standards will be reduced, and thousands of postal jobs will be lost. Read the rest of this entry »

OMB Deputy Director testifies at Issa postal reform hearing

TESTIMONY OF BRIAN C. DEESE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET BEFORE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM

April 8, 2014

omb-logoMr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cummings, and members of the Committee, thank you for your invitation to discuss the President’s proposal for reform of the U.S. Postal Service.

The Administration recognizes the value the Postal Service adds to the Nation’s commerce and communications, and its essential role in stitching together the vast expanse of our country and connecting America with the global economy. For years the Postal Service has ranked among the most trusted Federal agencies, and it provides reliable and affordable universal service to millions of Americans. Read the rest of this entry »

APWU: Staples Deal Still a Secret — But Hearing Reveals Disturbing Truths

APWU Web News Article #061-14, April 7, 2014

The Postal Service and Staples are working overtime to keep the details of their sweetheart deal a secret, but a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board — and documents the USPS was forced to provide to the APWU — have revealed some disturbing truths.

“Staples and postal management are perpetrating a fraud on the American people,” said Clint Burelson, APWU Clerk Craft director. “They are promoting the deal as though taking your mail to Staples is the same as taking it to the Post Office.

“It’s not,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

House GOP Budget Would Cut Compensation for Postal Workers

From Government Executive:

Paul_Ryan_official_portrait

The House Republican budget considered in committee Wednesday would require U.S. Postal Service employees to pay more for health care, using that reform and others to save $19 billion over 10 years.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., targeted USPS employees in his budget blueprint as part of a larger effort to find cuts through the federal workforce. Ryan’s plan would also impose pension contribution hikes on all federal employees and reduce the size of the workforce through attrition measures.

Read more: House GOP Budget Would Cut Compensation for Postal Workers – Pay & Benefits – GovExec.com.

APWU: Based on a Falsehood, Ryan Budget Would Plunder Postal Service

APWU Web News Article #058-14, April 1, 2014

apwulogoThe postal provisions in the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on April 1 are a “thinly-veiled attempt to plunder the Postal Service — to slash service, cut workers’ benefits, and render our great national treasure ripe for privatization,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

They’re also based on a fallacy, Dimondstein points out: The USPS did not have “an operating loss of $1 billion” in fiscal year 2013, as Rep. Ryan asserts.

“In fact, the Postal Service had an operating surplus of $600 million in fiscal year 2013. The Postal Service’s losses are the result of a manufactured crisis — the legislative requirement that forces the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees 75 years in advance and within a 10-year period,” Dimondstein said. Read the rest of this entry »

Fox News personality attacks DOJ for not prosecuting USPS credit card abusers

Celebrating The Arts In American Dinner Party With Distinguished Women In Media Presented By Landmark Technology Inc. And The Creative Coalition - ArrivalsIt probably won’t come as a surprise that Fox News is livid about reports that USPS managers misused government travel cards. Last night the network’s reigning outrage queen, Scientologist Greta Van Susteren, went off on the Attorney General for not immediately sending those managers to Guantanamo:

For reasons not totally unclear to me, Holder and the Justice Department are not prosecuting the postal service manager who got caught stealing $35,000. She is using her government credit card for gambling, rental cars, personal things and each wrongful use of her credit card is a separate felony.

Now Greta is supposedly an actual lawyer, so you’d think she’d do a little research before going off on a tantrum, even on Fox News, but she obviously didn’t bother this time.

So let’s help Greta understand this one:

  1. First of all, no one was “caught stealing” anything. As we’ve pointed out before, government travel cards are issued in the name of the cardholder, NOT the US Postal Service. If some idiot manager uses his government travel card for “personal things”, it’s the idiot manager who gets billed and is responsible for making payment, NOT the USPS or “the taxpayer”.
  2. Greta asks “And one other thing, why is the government issuing credit cards? That is so crazy.” Actually Greta, the government doesn’t issue the credit cards- Citibank does. Of course, I suppose you could make the case that Citibank and the rest of its Wall Street buddies pretty much run the government in this country, so Greta’s confusion is understandable.
  3. So Greta, how do you guys at Fox News handle travel expenses? “We use our own credit cards and submit receipts showing legitimate expenses and that we get reimbursed. That way, no stealing.” Hey great idea! But that’s pretty much what happens at the USPS too, except for the business about “using our own credit cards”. Of course Greta probably likes using her own credit card, because that way she gets perks like rebates, frequent flier miles, etc. I somehow doubt that Greta flies coach!

As we’ve said before, postal employees who abuse government travel cards don’t deserve to work for the USPS- and if they actually have broken any laws, they should be prosecuted (although lawyer Greta doesn’t explain exactly what law makes every instance of credit card misuse “a separate felony”.) . But it would be nice if we could stick to the facts instead of making up phony scandals just so extremists with an axe to grind can rant and rave about them.

Read more: Greta: Attorney General Eric Holder, prosecute government credit card abuse or resign | Off the Record | On the Record | Fox News.

The Washington Examiner’s phony travel card story

The Washington Examiner, the right wing web site that pretends to be a newspaper, has what it apparently thinks is a big scoop this morning:

Postal employees have spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on gambling, bills and other personal expenses, according to a series of reports by the U.S. Postal Service inspector general.

Shocking, isn’t it? Just one problem- it’s not true. In the first place, of course, most people know by now that the USPS isn’t funded by the taxpayer. But the most important fact that the Examiner chooses to ignore is that government travel cards are credit cards issued to employees who travel on postal business. While the cards are intended to be used solely for official travel expenses, the individual employee is responsible for all charges made on the card.

So if some stupid manager uses his travel card to get a cash advance at a casino so he can gamble, (as has been done), it is accurate to say that

  • he is certifiably stupid
  • he has violated USPS regulations and federal law, and…
  • he should be fired

But it is totally false to say that he has cost the taxpayer, or even the postal ratepayer, any money. That cash advance will appear on his next statement, and Citibank will expect repayment, regardless of whether the advance was made legitimately or not. The USPS isn’t out a single penny.

The Examiner story pretends to be an investigative story, painstakingly crafted from the results of Freedom of Information Act requests, but all of the information it “reveals” is, and always has been, freely available on the OIG website. Had the authors read the reports more carefully, they might have noticed this:

The Postal Service provides individual government travel cards to designated employees for use while on official travel. Employees are responsible for all charges and automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawals.

“Employees”. Not “the taxpayer”, “the ratepayer”, or the USPS. So much for the Examiner’s shocking expose!

If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because the Washington Post ran a similarly misleading story in 2011. To its credit, the Post corrected most of the errors in that story after we pointed them out. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the Examiner to do the same.

Read more: Postal service employees use travel cards to gamble, pay bills and go bowling | WashingtonExaminer.com.

Koch brothers related “watchdog” attacks Sanders for accepting contributions from postal workers

A right wing web site that claims to be an “independent watchdog” has attacked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for defending the US Postal Service and its employees. The site, which calls itself Vermont Watchdog, claims that Sanders is more interested in campaign contributions from postal workers then in the USPS itself:

BURLINGTON, Vt. — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says he’s worried the U.S. Postal Service is running out of cash, but he may be worried more about his own campaign cash.

In a March 4 editorial published in the Wall Street Journal, Sanders, a Vermont independent, called the USPS one of the country’s most important government agencies.

“It supports millions of jobs in virtually every other sector of our economy. It provides decent-paying union jobs to some 500,000 Americans, and it is the largest employer of veterans,” he wrote.

For Sanders, however, these “decent-paying union jobs” translate into high-paying campaign supporters.

Since Sanders was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 and then the U.S. Senate in 2006, labor unions with ties to the USPS have ranked among the top financial supporters of his political campaigns.

The American Postal Workers Union has given $36,200 since Sanders went to work in Washington. The National Association of Letter Carriers has dumped $50,000 into Sanders’ campaign coffers.

The Koch crowd apparently figure that Vermonters will be shocked at all that money flowing from what the wingnuts like to call “union bosses”. But take another look at the numbers- $86,200 total from two labor unions over the course of twenty four years!

That works out to the princely sum of $3,591 a year. Less than ten dollars a day.

Golly. Imagine the influence that kind of money buys! Read the rest of this entry »

Senator Says USPS Commits to Improve Mail Delivery & Standards in North Dakota

My Approved PortraitsWASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today received commitments from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to improve mail delivery and service throughout North Dakota. These commitments are in response to a meeting last week between Heitkamp and U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, after Heitkamp sent USPS more than 100 stories from North Dakotans about poor mail delivery and service they have experienced. To address issues specifically in North Dakota, USPS notified Heitkamp that:

  • Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) devices will be deployed in Bismarck, Dickinson, Fargo, Minot, Watford City, and Williston. These devices make it easier for USPS employees to assist customers using handheld devices to scan and accept prepaid packages, scan package pickups, and sell stamps to individuals in line. With mPOS, lobby assistants can greet and assist many customers with simple transactions, allowing them to “swipe and go.”
  • Self-Service Kiosks (SSK) will be installed in Dickinson, Watford City, and Williston to decrease wait times for customers
  • USPS will increase hours at 32 Post Offices in North Dakota

“I have long said that mail delivery needs to drastically improve throughout North Dakota. While we still have a long way to go, these commitments from the Postal Service are a step in the right direction,” said Heitkamp. “After hearing from well over one hundred North Dakotans all across the state about problems they have faced with their mail, I sent those stories straight to Postmaster General Donahoe because USPS needs to understand the magnitude of these problems. I’ll continue to press the Postal Service to make sure folks throughout North Dakota have the mail delivery standards they need and deserve.” Heitkamp previously called on North Dakotans to share their stories as part of her Fix My Mail grassroots effort if they encountered extensive delivery times or had to deal with other problems with their postal service. Heitkamp has continually presented the stories to the USPS Postmaster General and the GAO. More than 100 North Dakotans have already submitted stories to Heitkamp. Click here to submit stories. In February, Heitkamp helped advance comprehensive postal reform out of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee after the panel adopted key changes she made to the legislation that will improve mail service in rural communities throughout North Dakota.