The Senate has got to be kidding when it offered a postal reform proposal that would not only gut workers compensation benefits for postal workers but for a broad swath of other federal employees as well.
According to the Washington Post, Senate legislation that would ostensibly help the USPS straighten out its finances would also curtail benefits across the federal government. That has many other federal employees worried about their own circumstances http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/senate-postal-bill-would-cut-workers-comp-for-feds-across-the-government/2014/04/20/bcdee2dc-c716-11e3-bf7a-be01a9b69cf1_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend..
Keep in mind that the USPS reduced its annual losses down to about $5 billion for the year ended Sept. 30, 2013. But the postal service still carries the Congressionally mandated burden of at least $5.8 billion a year to pay for the healthcare costs of future retirees. While declining use of first class mail has definitely eroded much of the postal service’s usefulness in our e-society this provision has further enfeebled the USPS.
And this bill comes from the Democratically-controlled Senate.
One shudders to think of what kind of bill would emerge once the Senate tries to hash out postal reform legislation with the GOP-led House, many of whose members are openly hostile to a public postal service.
It may not be the smartest politics in the world for the Senate to alienate unions and workers in general since those groups still make up a great deal of the Democrats’ fundraising and voter bases. But maybe this bill is a cynical move by Democrats to position themselves better after the 2014 elections when many predict the GOP will retake the Senate.
They could be scared off by historical trends that indicate Congress often changes away from the party of the President in off-year elections. The Supreme Court’s decision in the McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission, which further frees up corporate campaign spending, is apparently further frightening the party, says the Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/21/pbs-frontline-solitary-confinement_n_5175936.html.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Apparently, the postal service itself is letting privatization creep in. One of the most blatant attempts so far is the USPS;s plan to have non-union employees sell stamps and other postal products at Staples stores, a move which is meeting strong resistance from labor unions http://www.apwu.org/news/forthepress/pressrel140423-staples-dayofaction.htm.
And that’s not the only step toward privatization. In Portland, OR, for example, local residents recently protested the extension of a contract with a local trucking company to transport mail within the city instead of postal workers, according to The Oregonian http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/04/protesters_use_postcards_to_op.html.
The USPS has used private truckers for intercity deliveries for many years but has only recently started using them locally.
On top of that, the USPS has thought since 2011 that it can help balance its books by closing and selling off individual post offices and other facilities. Trouble is, the postal service doesn’t even know what it has or whether it has a right to sell, according to the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General http://uspsoig.gov/sites/default/files/document-library-files/2014/sm-ar-14-004.pdf.
This report has raised the hackles of local members of Congress in places like Bronx, NY where the postal service is considering shuttering its historic main post office. Let’s hope it raises more and more hackles across the country,