Monday, September 19, 2011

Went to the Horse's Mouth . . .

. . . And spoke to my local Post Master to find the scoop on the Post Office possibly shutting down. Some media aren’t giving the entire story, if they cover it seriously at all. This is a serious matter to Seniors and those living in rural areas. The Internet garners much more information.

[Before I continue, I must apologize. When I found out this information, my DSL filter was having problems. I was trying to get it resolved while doing this post. I couldn’t be on the phone and Internet simultaneously and didn’t know how long I’d have Internet access. I wanted to post it quickly and misspelled Rep. Issa’s first name like the girl’s name.]

My Post Master isn’t certain all offices won’t be shutting down. Other offices have shut down completely that didn’t net more than $50,000 yearly. My local Post Office carriers have moved about 9 miles away. A shell of an office is left. Congressional mandates hadn’t even slated it for removal. Carriers have 12 miles added to their daily routes. Those who did not want to relocate retired early or quit. The estimated savings to this office is the electric bill and possibly the water bill from flushing the toilet. Since an extra 12 miles is added to each carrier’s route, because mileage determines their salaries, it is doubtful they are seeing any savings, according to my Post Master.

My local Post Office isn’t the only one affected. People living in rural areas are having to go many miles more to get services, sometimes over treacherous road conditions during winters.

The Post Master verified that they make profits entirely from postage. "The Post Office takes not one red cent from taxpayers." However, Congress mandates they prepay healthcare for retirees by $5 billion "every quarter." [The union article says, $5.5 billion yearly.] "[They] pay this money to Congress."

Does this sound like thugs blackmailing shopkeepers to protect them, so that they won’t hurt them? According to the Post Master, the Post Office overpaid their fund by $55 billion dollars, putting it into a surplus. "Congress refuses to give the money back." In other words, Congress is stealing this money just as they have Social Security when raiding it to pay for wars and other pet projects. This is what is causing the Post Office financial situation.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairperson of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has introduced a bill, H.R. 2309. APWU President Cliff Guffey says that the bill is, "a reckless assault on postal workers and the Postal Service." The bill orders drastic closures of $2 billion the first two years.

He goes on to say, "Incredibly, it fails to address the main cause of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties — the unique mandate that requires the USPS to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees, at a cost of more than $5.5 billion per year," Guffey continues, "It also completely ignores the fact that the USPS has massive surpluses in its pension accounts." The union president feels that the overpayments can be used to solve the cash crisis.

"Rep. Issa insists that the legislation is designed to avoid a ‘bailout,’ but nothing could be further from the truth," Guffey said. "In fact, the federal government [Congress] is holding billions of dollars of excess postal payments to FERS and CSRS."

According to the article, "The USPS has a surplus of $6.9 billion in its Federal Employee Retirement System account, and, according to two independent actuarial studies, has overpaid the Civil Service Retirement System account by $50 billion to $75 billion."

"We must let them know that we support an alternate bill, H.R. 1351, which would address the cause of the USPS financial crisis without slashing service and without eliminating collective bargaining rights," Guffey said.

This appears another GOP effort to end collective bargaining. It creates a "solvency authority" with the power to unilaterally modify collective bargaining agreements any time the USPS defaults on "any obligation to the federal government for more than 30 days."

"The solvency board would be empowered to cut wages, abolish benefits, and end our protection against layoffs," he said.

In addition, at the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreements, the bill would increase employees’ costs for healthcare coverage and life insurance, and eliminate the right to bargain over these benefits. It also would allow the USPS to end Saturday delivery.

It seems that the GOP is trying to end federal government entirely, except their jobs. The Post Office operates like a private entity, but with Congressional oversight. This is bad business. The Postal Service needs autonomy from Congressional oversight

Congress is playing with the lives of citizens, who aren’t on the Internet, don’t pay bills via the Internet if they are on it. As well they are playing with businesses who still sell products using catalogues. They are not only playing with the lives of little children who love to get real cards from Grandma that includes $5, but with the greeting card makers. This also affects many other businesses as well state and local governments who send tax and DMV notifications using the Post Office.

H.R. 1351, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would correct the over-funding of the pension accounts. It would let the agency use the pension surplus to meet its retiree health benefits pre-funding obligation.

"H.R. 1351 would restore financial stability to the Postal Service,"Guffey said, "without putting any burden on American taxpayers."

I called my Congresspersons to support H.R. 1351. We all need to.

1 comment:

  1. You go, girl! I'm so glad you're going to the source and asking some pointed questions. We need to know what's going on and, no, the media isn't telling us everything!