Letter Carriers President Testifies Coalition’s Postal Reforms

WASHINGTON—Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando is urging the House committee that writes Postal Service legislation to follow a reform bill outline that all sides concerned with the Postal Service’s future already agree upon.

Testifying on behalf of all four postal unions, Rolando said the coalition’s proposals, which also include input from postal managers, major mailers and USPS business clients, would essentially end the postal service’s financial ills, caused by a 2006 “reform” law.

Those ills not only mask the fact that the Postal Service has earned almost $3 billion in operating profits over the last three years, but prevent it from modernizing its decade-old vehicle fleet and branching into new and profitable service areas.

Rolando testified that the Postal Service’s financial ills, are almost exclusively due to a $5.5 billion yearly requirement that it “pre-fund” future retirees’ health care costs, now. That’s accounted for almost 90 percent of the USPS deficits for the past decade. The Great Recession accounted for the rest. Pre-funding repeal tops the coalition’s legislative plan.

Besides that repeal, the coalition, which includes the Letter Carriers, the Postal Workers, the Rural Letter Carriers and the Mail Handlers-Laborers, supports:

• “Using postal-specific assumptions in valuations of the Postal Service’s pension plans with any surpluses returned to the Postal Service over time.”

• “Reforming the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program’s coverage of postal employees and annuitants to dramatically reduce the cost of retiree health benefits by fully integrating with Medicare,” which postal workers already contribute to, anyway.

• Investing the retirement and health benefit systems’ funds – all derived from postal customers, not taxpayers – in high-quality investments with better yields. By law, the money is now all invested in Treasury bills and bonds, with very low yields. The new investments would be in “index funds comprised of private sector stocks and bonds as well as government bonds with appropriate governance procedures.”

• “Permitting the Postal Service to provide non-postal products in limited circumstances.” That’s a reference to plans the unions and their top congressional supporter, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., are pushing to allow USPS back into postal banking and to let it market such services as being a notary public and shipping wine and beer.

• “If necessary” adjusting the rates for first-class mail, packages and parcels “to ensure adequate revenue for the Postal Service through the period,” ending this coming December, when the Postal Rate Commission is undertaking a comprehensive review of all postal rates.

“The common characteristic of the first two principles is that they adopt standard prac-tices used by large companies in the private sector. All the other principles were included in the Senate bill from the last Congress (S1486) or included in the bipartisan iPost bill introduced in the Senate during this Congress…We can support these core principles,” Rolando testified. He pledged unions will work “in good faith” with lawmakers “as long as it takes” to succeed.

Source: PAI