Budget Negotiators Threaten Postal, Federal Pay, Benefits

December 10, 2013

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Congressional budget negotiators are engaged in closed-door deal-making that could reduce the take-home pay of postal workers and federal employees; reduce retirement benefits; eliminate postal jobs, and weaken the Postal Service, APWU leaders have learned.

President Mark Dimondstein is asking all union members — and their families and friends — to contact their U.S. senators and representatives and urge them to reject any such deal.

The congressional budget conference committee, which is led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), is considering measures that would require postal and federal workers to contribute 1.2 percent more to their pensions — without any corresponding increase in benefits. “That amounts to a pay cut, pure and simple,” Dimondstein said.

Conferees are also entertaining proposals to change the basis for calculating retirement benefits from employees’ “high three” years of earnings to their “high five” years, which would reduce retirees’ annuities.

In a Dec. 10 letter Dimondstein urged House and Senate leaders of both parties to reject any such measures.

“These outrageous proposals are just the most recent examples of the hypocrisy of those who refuse to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals but are willing to solve the nation’s deficit on the backs of working people — America’s postal and federal employees,” he wrote on Dec. 10.

APWU Legislative and Political Director John Marcotte also condemned the proposals. “This is a back-door tax increase on postal and federal workers,” he said. A Dec. 9 letter to Sen. Murray and Rep. Ryan, signed by the APWU and 30 other postal and federal unions and management associations pointed out the postal and federal workers are the only constituency who would be taxed under the proposed budget.

USPS Targeted Too

Postal unions are also are deeply concerned by reports that budget conferees are considering proposals to eliminate Saturday delivery, which would weaken the U.S. Postal Service, eliminate tens of thousands of jobs, and derail the agency’s fledgling recovery.

“As you know, the Postal Service does not contribute to the deficit, receives no taxpayer money, and has recently shown an operating surplus,” Dimondstein said in his letter to Pelosi.

“Congress can best support the USPS by eliminating the mandate of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which requires the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees — a burden no other government agency or private company bears. To strengthen the USPS, Congress also must protect service standards and allow the USPS to offer new services that will create new sources of revenue,” he said.

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