H.R. 1351 Gains Attention on Capitol Hill
APWU Web News Article 100-2011, Sept. 14, 2011
Saving the Postal Service from financial collapse seems to be getting attention on Capitol Hill: H.R. 1351 — a bill supported by postal unions, management associations, and the mailing industry to address the USPS financial crisis — has become one of the top three bills searched for on the Library of Congress’ legislative research Web site.
Meanwhile, 21 additional members of the House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsors of the bipartisan measure since Congress returned from its August recess.
“It’s a good sign,” said APWU Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid. “Members of Congress are obviously hearing from concerned workers, business people, and citizens who are demanding that Congress act,” he added.
“But we’ve got to keep the pressure to save postal jobs and service.
“Now is the time for all postal workers to urge their U.S. representative to support H.R. 1351,” Reid said. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Steven Lynch (D-MA), would prevent the financial collapse of the USPS — without closing thousands of post offices, eliminating hundreds of mail processing facilities, delaying mail delivery, laying off 120,000 workers, cutting postal workers’ pay, or ending collective bargaining rights.
“I also urge every APWU member to participate in rallies on Sept. 27,” Reid said. “Find out about your local’s plans and join with our brothers and sisters from other postal unions to visit your representative’s district offices with the simple message: Save America’s Postal Service — Pass H.R. 1351.”
H.R. 1351 would allow the Postal Service to apply billions of dollars in pension overpayments to the congressional mandate that requires the USPS to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees. No other government agency or private company bears this burden, which forces the Postal Service to fund a 75-year liability in 10 years — at a cost of more than $5 billion annually. Without the mandate, the USPS would have shown a surplus of $611 million over the past four fiscal years.
The bill currently has 204 co-sponsors — nearly half the house, yet Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is withholding action on it while advocating his own bill, H.R 2309, which would destroy the Postal Service as we know it.
Rep. Issa’s bill would do nothing to correct the cause of the USPS financial crisis: It would do nothing about the pension overpayments or the pre-funding requirement. But it would establish a “solvency authority” with the power to unilaterally cut wages, abolish benefits, and end protection against layoffs. It also would create a board that would order $1 billion worth of post office closures in the first year and $1 billion worth of facility closures in the second year. If H.R. 2309 is enacted, thousands of offices throughout the country would be closed.