House Budget Goes Beyond White House Blueprint
On July 19, the House Budget Committee advanced its Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution. As anticipated, the 2018 House Budget is in the same mold as the White House budget – it punishes workers and the working-class, while giving big payouts to the rich. The resolution instructs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (which has jurisdiction over the Postal Service and postal/federal employee annuity benefits) to cut $32 billion in the programs and agencies they oversee during ten years.
Like the White House proposal, the House budget recommends big pay cuts to postal workers through increased Federal Employee Retirement System pension contributions and eliminating the special retirement supplement (which helps federal retirees who retire before they are eligible for Social Security benefits). These two proposals alone will take thousands of dollars out of the pockets of postal workers and retirees.
Even more egregious, the House plan calls for replacing guaranteed pension benefits for new hires with riskier 401(k) “retirement” benefits. Postal workers’ retirement savings will be entirely at the whim of the stock market and Wall Street financiers.
The APWU also remains concerned that in the Oversight Committee’s effort to cut $32 billion they may reduce Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for retirees, as suggested in the White House 2018 Budget Proposals.
These and many other cuts to critical government services would be used to bankroll huge tax cuts for the wealthiest few.
“It’s a stick up,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “They plan to come into our homes and rob us of $3,000-$4,000 a year. Then they want to come back next year, and every year thereafter, and do it again.”
One Atrocious Step Further
In addition to the cuts above, the 2018 House Budget also calls to move the Postal Service from “off budget” to “on budget,” even though it operates without taxpayer money. This would be a disaster, because being “on budget” would put caps on its expenditures, let Congress dictate how the Postal Service could spend their money and would make it subject to federal government shutdowns. If this is able to stand, the Postal Service will be a prime target for cuts and could result in the further degradation of service. Further, being “on budget” could make the Postal Service a cash cow, with cuts to the USPS budget to pay for non-postal related government expenses.
Instead of providing improved services and investing in infrastructure, Congress could take the Postal Service’s operating budget and use it for any purpose, including funding massive tax breaks for corporations and the CEOs who run them.
“All Hands on Deck”
On Tuesday, July 18, APWU members were on the front line protecting our livelihoods from budget attacks. As part of our joint Day of Action with the Federal-Postal Coalition, APWU sisters and brothers made over 5,000 calls in 24 hours to congressional offices.
Together, we urged members of Congress to reject any federal budget proposal including devastating cuts to our pay and benefits. We told our representatives to oppose any budget balanced on the backs of workers.
“A big thank you to everyone who participated in our Day of Action and for your continued efforts,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard. “However our work did not end on the Day of Action -- this budget must be defeated! The phone lines remain open to connect you to your Member of Congress. Our solidarity and collective action is paramount if we are to defeat these budget attacks.”
“Call both 1-844-813-4060 [DC office] and 1-844-402-1001 [district office],” Director Beard continued, “and tell your representative that postal and federal workers will not be a piggy bank to finance massive tax cuts for the rich!”