Legislative & Political Dept.
Tell Your Legislators:
'Say NO to H.R. 2309!’
(This article by Legislative & Political Department officers Myke Reid and Steve Albanese first appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and outspoken critic of the USPS, introduced a bill in June that would make drastic changes to the Postal Ser- vice and would have devastating impacts on postal workers. All APWU members are urged to immediately contact their U.S. representatives and encourage them to oppose the bill, H.R. 2309.
If H.R. 2309 becomes law, a five-person commission would be created that would submit plans to Congress that would hasten the process of closing stations and branches and consolidating mail processing facilities. The commission would implement a plan that would result in $2 billion dollars in service cuts over the first two years alone. The commission would be required to hold five public hearings to allow stakeholders to submit comments and questions, but any of their final recommendations would ultimately go into effect — unless Congress passed a joint resolution disapproving the plan. Closing and consolidations ordered by the commission could not be appealed.
The bill also would establish a Postal Service Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, which would be able to order the re-negotiation of an existing Collective Bargaining Agreement between the USPS and its labor unions to achieve savings. After meeting with appropriate bargaining representatives, the authority would be able to reject, modify or terminate one or more provisions of an existing contract. The bill also would allow the Postal Service to reduce mail delivery to five days per week.
In addition, the Issa bill would increase the amount postal workers pay toward their health plan premiums and life insurance.
H.R. 2309 completely ignores the true cause of the Post- al Service’s financial woes: The onerous requirement that the USPS pre-pay future retiree health benefits at a cost of more than $5 billion annually. The measure also ignores the overpayments of $50 billion to $75 billion dollars that the USPS has made to the Civil Service Retirement Fund, and the almost $7 billion dollars overpaid to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) fund. This bill at- tempts to rectify all of the Postal Service’s financial problems on the backs of postal workers. The APWU is pre- pared to do everything in our power to see that this bill never becomes law — but we need your help.
It is absolutely essential that every APWU member contacts their U.S. representative and urges him or her to oppose Issa’s bill. Members must engage themselves in the legislative fight to save the Postal Service — and our jobs.
There really is no other way to put it: Your jobs — and the service that millions of Americans rely on — are at serious risk.
In addition to legislative threats, the Postal Service is quickly running out of cash. This is due in part to the country’s economic downturn, but the USPS financial crisis is primarily due to the pre-funding requirement. The APWU warned Congress about passing the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), and now, our fears are playing out in a very real way.
However, there is a solution pending on Capitol Hill: H.R. 1351. This bill, which was introduced in April by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would give the Postal Service access to its overpayments to the two pension funds. This would enable the USPS to make its pre-funding payments without draining cash from its operating revenue. It also would stabilize the current financial crisis without the USPS having to exceed its debt ceiling of $15 billion dollars, and it would minimize the need to reduce service to the American public. The bill also would direct the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to adjust contribution methodologies to avoid overpayments in the future.
The stakes in this legislative battle could not be higher, and APWU President Cliff Guffey has directed the Legislative and Political Department to work with union officers and members across the country to encourage them to contact their members of Congress and seek their support, regardless of party lines, to ensure the viability of the Postal Service. We need each local to visit their congressional office and speak to their U.S. representative about the need to pass H.R., 1351 and to defeat H.R. 2309.
We will be designating APWU representatives from every region to follow up with locals as we undertake this massive lobbying effort. We ask that you provide feedback to our department regarding the responses you get from each legislator. Our future is directly tied to the actions taken by Congress in the coming months; this is a watershed moment in our history and we need the help of every member in order to get the USPS through this financial crisis.
Please stay tuned to these pages and APWU News Bulletins for updates and additional calls-to-action. We will also keep you up to date on our efforts and to help you spread the word to your co-workers. Feel free to contact the Legislative and Political Department if you have any questions or need more information prior to meeting with your members of Congress.
Remember: In order to save our service, we must all get involved immediately!
Making the Case For H.R. 1351
APWU locals across the nation are answering the union’s call to meet with their congressional representatives to urge support for H.R. 1351, crucial legislation that must pass soon to restore financial stability to the USPS without dismantling the postal network or slashing services to the American people.