Senate Approves Amended Postal Bill,
Next Up: The House of Representatives
APWU Web News Article 46-2012, April 25, 2012
The Senate passed an amended version of the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789) on April 25 by a vote of 62-37. “Although the bill is flawed, the amended version is far better than the original,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “That is a result of the tremendous effort of APWU members, postal customers, and elected officials who appreciate the importance of the Postal Service to American life. Thank you for your hard work.”
The bill will provide the USPS, which is facing imminent collapse, with short-term financial relief, by returning $11 billion in USPS overpayments to federal pension funds to the Postal Service. “Keep in mind,” Guffey said, “this is money paid by postal customers, workers and the Postal Service – not taxpayers.”
The bill also will provide some protection for service standards for a minimum of three years. “Although we sought stronger, longer safeguards, this is an improvement over the original bill, which did nothing to preserve service,” Guffey said. “Protecting service is essential to preserving the Postal Service,” he said.
The bill fails to provide the Postal Service with the relief it needs to meet the challenges of the future, Guffey said. “Although the bill will provide the USPS with limited relief from the requirement to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees, it does not provide sufficient relief. As a result, the USPS will not have access to the capital it needs to meet the challenges of the future,” he said.
The bill also will have devastating consequences for the thousands of postal and federal employees who were injured on the job and who receive compensation from the Office of Workers Compensation Program (OWCP), Guffey noted.
“We will now take our fight to the House of Representatives,” Guffey said, “where we hope to improve the bill.
“We call on our members, small businesses, individual customers, and lawmakers to re-double our efforts to Save America’s Postal Service.”
Approved amendments are listed below. (Please note that the precise wording of many amendments is not yet available.)
Amendment #2020, offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), would require the Postal Service to consider the effect of closing or consolidating a postal facility on the ability of the affected community to vote by mail. The amendment passed by a voice vote.
Amendment #2027, offered by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), would limit the post offices on Capitol Hill to two. The amendment was approved by a voice vote.
Amendment #2029, offered by Senator Paul would add additional requirements to USPS reports to Congress. The amendment was approved by a voice vote.
Amendment # 2030, offered by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), would extend a hardship exemption to injured workers on the rolls of the Office of Workers Compensation (OWCP) who are eligible for nutritional assistance. The amendment was approved by voice vote.
Amendment #2031, offered by Sen. Claire McCaskill, would prevent closure of rural post offices for one year and would require the USPS to exhaust all options to continue service before closure. The amendment was approved by a voice vote.
Amendment #2032, offered by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would limit the pay of Postal Service executives to that of cabinet secretaries. The amendment passed by voice vote.
Amendment #2036, offered by Senator Mark Pryor’s (D-AR), expresses the “sense of the Senate” to place a moratorium on postal facility closures and consolidation until the enactment of postal legislation. The amendment was agreed to by voice vote.
Amendment #2047, offered by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), would allow community advocates to participate in the facility closure process and would permit the USPS to provide additional services. The amendment was adopted by a voice vote.
Amendment #2050, offered by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), would maintain door delivery point services for those who currently have door service. The amendment passed by voice vote.
Amendment #2056, offered by Senator Tester, would allow more community participation in the decision-making process for closing or consolidating post offices and postal facilities. The amendment also gives the Postal Regulatory Commission authority to “affirm or reverse” the determination of the Postal Service. The amendment was adopted by a voice vote.
Amendment #2058, offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), would encourage “co-location” of postal services at alternative commercial or government establishments. The amendment passed by a voice vote.
Amendment #2060, offered by Sen. Coburn, would limit spending by federal agencies on conferences and meetings. The amendment was approved by a voice vote.
Amendment #2066, offered by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), would limit compensation for postal executives. The amendment was approved by a voice vote.
Amendment #2071, offered by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), would require the USPS and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to report on a regular basis the status on the processing of retirement benefits applications and modernization. The amendment passed by voice vote.
Amendment #2072, offered by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), would determine the impact of certain postal facility closures or consolidations on small businesses. This amendment passed by a voice vote.
Amendment #2073, offered by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, would eliminate a provision in the bill that would shift Medicare costs and increase premiums by 25%. The amendment was passed by voice vote.
Amendment #2074, offered by Sen. Rockefeller, would ensure that the Postal Service Health Benefits Program will be comparable to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan in the event that a new health benefits program for the postal service is created. The amendment passed by voice vote.
Amendment #2076, offered by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), would create a state liaison for those states not having a USPS District office. The amendment passed by voice vote.
Amendment #2080, offered by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), would allow verification by the Postal Regulatory Commission of projected savings associated with the closure of a mail processing facility. The amendment was adopted by a voice vote.
Amendment #2082, offered by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), would prevent the Postal Service from closing or consolidating a facility for three years if consolidation was rejected after June 1, 2001. The amendment passed by a voice vote.
Approved amendments are listed below. (Please note that the precise wording of many amendments is not yet available. Please note that amendments require 60 votes for adoption.)
Amendment #2025, offered by Sen. Paul, which would have ended the mailbox use monopoly, was defeated by a vote of 35-64.
Amendment #2028, offered by Senator Paul, would create an “alternative methods” pilot program, allowing greater operational autonomy for local postmasters. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 35-64.
Amendment #2033, offered by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), which would have established a BRAC-like (Base Realignment and Closure) Commission on Postal Reorganization, failed by a vote of 30-69.
Amendment #2034, offered by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), to replace the bill’s workers’ compensation provisions with previously-approved bi-partisan legislation approved by the House of Representatives. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 46-53.
Amendment #2039, offered by Senator Paul, would eliminate collective bargaining for postal workers. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 23-76.
Amendment # 2042, offered by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), would have maintained current delivery standards for market-dominant products for four years. This amendment failed by a vote of 44-54.
Amendment #2043, offered by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), which would have eliminated provisions that call for the Postal Service to go to five-day service in two years, was defeated by a vote of 43-56.
Amendment #2046, offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), would have required postal unions to obtain permission from their members before using union dues for political purposes. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 46-53.
Amendment #2049, offered by Sen. Akaka, which would have directed the Postal Service to engage in consultation with supervisors and postmasters on compensation and benefits, failed by a vote of 42-57.
Amendment #2061, offered by Sen. Coburn, which would require retirement-eligible employees of the Postal Service to retire, was defeated by a vote of 33-65.
Amendment #2079, offered by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), which would impose a two-year moratorium on any postal facility and post office closures, failed to pass. This amendment failed by a vote of 43-53.
Amendment #2083, offered by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), would have prohibited “no-layoff” clauses from postal collective bargaining agreements; removed a provision from current law that ensures benefits for employees cannot be lower than those in effect in 1971, and required a switch to five-day mail delivery. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 29-70.