Legislative & Political Dept.
APWU e-Team Weekly Report #09-12, March 2, 2012
Cutbacks at the U.S. Postal Service
In a move that could eliminate as many as 150,000 jobs by next year—and
that has angered some in Congress—the cash-strapped United States
Postal Service is pushing ahead with planned cuts to more than 260 mail-processing
centers nationwide starting in May as part of an effort to reduce the
agency’s operating budget.
Declining volumes, along with rules that require the service to pay for the health care of its workers far in advance, have created the fiscal crisis. The Postal Service has said that it could lose as much as $18.2 billion a year by 2015 unless Congress grants it permission to make the necessary adjustments, like eliminating Saturday delivery and raising stamp prices.
The planned cuts, which would save about $20 billion by 2015, would slow the delivery of first-class mail, eliminating the option for letters to arrive the next day.
Last year, the agency agreed to wait until mid-May to begin closures so lawmakers would have time to stabilize its finances. The Postal Service is an independent agency, but subject to congressional control on major operational issues. Many in Congress are not happy with the closures, particularly those in rural areas.
A bipartisan Senate bill (S. 1789) would permit the Postal Service to halt Saturday delivery, close thousands of post offices and processing facilities, and give back billions of dollars that the agency paid into federal retirement accounts, according to The Washington Post. But the bill encountered opposition in the Senate, where 27 Democrats sent a letter to its sponsors demanding changes to the legislation.
The letter requested protection for rural post offices, maintenance of current delivery standards, Saturday delivery for the next four years and other items. Sen. Bernie Sanders, ID-Vt., a cosigner, said the underlying bill would mean “a death spiral” for the Postal Service.
Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., one of the sponsors of the bill, said he hopes to complete an amendment that aims to appease the bill’s critics in time for floor action in late March.
The APWU is asking you to please reach out to your senators and ask them to support several amendments to the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789). To send your senators a quick message, click here.
Please urge your senators to support amendments to S.1789 that would:
After you send a message to your senators, make sure you also take a minute
to call their offices and tell them to amend S. 1789.
You can reach your senators by calling the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Postal and federal workers’ retirement benefits are still under
attack. A piece of legislation, H.R. 3813, would increase the required
contribution rate paid by postal and federal employees in both the Civil
Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees’ Retirement
System (FERS) for their retirement.
After H.R. 3813 was reported from committee, the House Rules Committee merged the bill with H.R. 7, the American Energy and infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012. Both bills contain these troubling attacks on postal and federal workers retirements.
Click here to take action and send a quick message to your representative. Tell them to vote no on H.R. 7 and oppose H.R. 3813!
After you send a message to your representative, make sure you also
take a minute to call their office and tell them to vote no on H.R. 7
and oppose H.R. 3813!
You can reach your member of Congress by calling the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
To find your representative, please click here.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted this week that a stalled transportation
bill (H.R. 7) that has been languishing in the House is not yet dead,
and that a scaled-down version that had been talked about is even less
likely to garner support. But time may be running out, either way.
That’s because the current extension of the surface-transportation programs expires March 31. And, even more importantly, the votes may still not be there even for a more modest bill.
Realizing he did not have the votes, Boehner two weeks ago withdrew the $260 billion, five-year plan upon which he had banked a good deal of political capital. Many Republicans balked at the price tag and urban Republicans were put off by a severing of dedicated transit funding. The bill was devoid of earmarks, which also hurt its cause. Not a single Democrat was expected to vote for it, and President Obama threatened a veto.
Some GOP leaders have said privately that a new, improved, scaled-down version could be rolled out in the coming weeks, more in line with a two-year, $109 billion Senate version that Democratic leaders hope passes by mid-March. A proposal to de-link mass-transit money from the highway trust fund would be removed and a provision that would call for federal employees to contribute more to their retirements is also likely to suffer the hatchet. Remaining, however, is an already-passed measure that would force Obama to accept the Keystone XL pipeline. But Boehner seemed to throw cold water on the inchoate new proposal, saying “Apparently our members don’t think too highly of it.” He described it as “a fall back measure.”
Most local officials around the country are not counting on a new bill and are resigned to more stopgap measures. But, alarmingly, some states are unaware that some federal money may not be available to them after March 31, the Governors Highway Safety Association told Politico.
In the 2010 election season approximately 17-18 million citizens voted
by mail. Some election officials are actively asking the postal service
to postpone degrading delivery standards for first class mail until at
least after this November’s election.
To read the full story in The Hill, please click here.