Postal Union Withdraws Endorsement of Congressman Darrell Issa

In recent days, the nation’s postal workers have been subjected to some misleading attacks in the news media.

From NALC President Fred Rolando:

Last Thursday, for example, a panel of conservative guests on the Fox Business Network’s “Money Rocks” program trotted out the notion that the United States Postal Service is no longer relevant and should be privatized. But in an odd twist, that contention quickly fell by the wayside when one guest said postal workers were “thoroughly unskilled labor who should be bumped down” to drive cabs — but couldn’t be because African immigrants were taking the taxi-driving jobs. That led the other guests to call him “a nasty racist” and more, and a shouting match ensued.

Then, California Rep. Darryl Issa penned an op-ed piece for Tuesday’s Washington Times that blithely ignores many of the financial realities the Postal Service faces. For example, much of his column dealt with a supposed taxpayer bail-out of the Service—when in fact no one is requesting a bail-out or help from taxpayers.

National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando said that such developments make clear once again just how much letter carriers have at stake in November’s congressional elections, in making sure that anti-labor forces do not gain control of Congress.

President Rolando has already taken several steps this week to get the facts out, from appearing on Fox to writing a letter to the Washington Times to other media efforts. The NALC will set the record straight in the face of these misleading attacks.

Letter to Washington Times in response to article by Rep. Issa

September 21, 2010
Letter to the Editor
Washington Times

To whom it may concern:

It’s election time in an era of extreme political polarization. But that does not excuse misleading the public with false claims that the Postal Service is seeking a taxpayer bailout. Nor does it excuse Congress interfering with collective bargaining between the financially self-sufficient Postal Service and its unions. Unfortunately, the opinion piece by Rep. Darrell Issa (RCA), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, fails on both counts. (“Time for another government bailout,” September 20, 2010.)

The Postal Service is not seeking a taxpayer bailout. Rather it is proposing to use a massive surplus in its pension account within the Civil Service Retirement System (paid for by postage rate payers and postal employees — its own funds, not taxpayer funds) to cover the cost of future retiree health benefits. The cost of prefunding these future retiree health benefits, some $5.6 billion per year, was imposed on the USPS by Congress in 2007, just as the economy crashed. This requirement, which no other agency or private business in America faces, caused the recent financial crisis at the USPS not the internet or the recession, though both factors have made things worse.

In fact, in the absence of the prefunding requirement, the USPS would have been profitable in two of the past three years, despite the Great Recession.

Rep. Issa’s editorial is woefully uninformed or misinformed about the Postal Service, particularly in the area of labor relations. The Postal Service has plenty of flexibility to downsize and it has done so massively in recent years — it has cut more than 100,000 jobs since the recession began in late 2007. The no-lay-off clause in the postal unions’ contracts that the Congressman criticizes covers only workers with more than six year of service — leaving some 160,000 career and non-career employees subject to lay-off if need be.

Perhaps it would make Rep. Issa happy if even more middle class Americans were thrown out of work, but postal downsizing can be achieved through attrition rather than lay-offs. Sadly, this downsizing is being driven more by Congressional inaction on resolving the unfair pension and prefunding burdens on the Postal Service than by poor economic conditions. Yet Representative Issa proudly vows to block legislation to even temporarily alleviate these problems.

Other Issa claims are both puzzling and false. He says “unions have balked at the idea of changing contracts that refuse to allow necessary lay-offs even if workers would be retrained and offered the opportunity to fill other positions in the federal government.” Such a proposal has never been made at the bargaining table or offered in Congress. How can “the unions” have balked? His claim that a postal arbitration board “does not have to consider the financial condition” of the Postal Service during binding arbitration is similarly groundless. Boards are required to consider all the evidence presented by the parties — and the Postal Service has always made its financial condition a central part of its case before arbitrators. The notion that professional arbitrators would ignore such evidence is frankly preposterous.

Rep. Issa says Congress must represent the clear interests of taxpayers and customers and demand concessions from postal employees. But politicizing the Post Office by getting Congress involved in the collective bargaining process is the last thing we should do. It would jeopardize one of America’s great institutions. The Postal Service has not received a dime of taxpayer support in more than 25 years and American mailers enjoy extremely high quality services at postage rates that are among the most affordable in the world.

Rather than meddling in collective bargaining, Congress should seek a bipartisan solution to the basic pension and health care issues that have unfairly hampered the Postal Service in recent years. The USPS has more than fully funded its future pension obligations (it has a surplus of $55-$75 billion) and has already socked away more for future retiree health benefits ($37 billion) than any other company in America. Letting the Postal Service use its fairly calculated pension surplus to fully fund post-retirement health benefits makes perfect sense. Injecting partisan politics into the Post Office does not.


Fred V. Rolando

NALC President withdrawing endorsement of Rep. Issa:

Earlier this month, I sat down with our resident officers and our political and legislative staff rto discuss the mid-term elections. Specifically, we discussed which candidates to endorse. Over the course of those discussions, we decided to endorse Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). Not only does Congressman Issa serve as the ranking member (the highest-ranking Republican) on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but he had also taken very positive positions on issues pertaining to letter carriers and the challenges facing the United States Postal Service. The fact that he could become the next chairman of our oversight committee, if his party takes control of the House of Representatives, made this endorsement of national importance.

Unfortunately, I am writing to you today to alert that the NALC is withdrawing the endorsement of Congressman Issa.

At a dinner reception, Rep. Ed Towns (above) and Rep. Darrell Issa spoke of the need to protect the Postal Service in this economic crisis and beyond.

Rep. Issa Addressing Letter Carriers

8 thoughts on “Postal Union Withdraws Endorsement of Congressman Darrell Issa

  1. I want my pension prefunded!!!!!!!!!!!!! The NALC needs to quit bitching about that because a prefunded pension takes care of it’s MEMBERS,which is their job. If you work for the Post Office and can’t retire you have no personal responsibility. We make damn good money and really are over paid. If you are not putting away a minimum of 10% of your income on top of TSP, you don’t deserve to retire.
    Control your own life by investing your income because we got it very good and if you want a pension that is only partially funded, go work for GM and bitch when you have no pension at all when you go bankrupt.

  2. NALC = JOKE = no mind idiots. Democrats = closing post offices and 5 day a week delivery. Republicans = privatization. Take your pick which way would you vote???? NALC spend more money taking care of your members and stop throwing money into the lobbiest “black hole”. Like allow the USPS to be more flexible in hiring people.

  3. The NALC have always been fools to endorse ANY GOP candidate.
    The Republican Party stands AGAINST any goal that organized labor
    has…’s as simple as that.

    Darrell Issa has been a SNAKE ever since he was first elected to Congress.
    He and his fellow Republicans have ALWAYS BEEN ANTI LABOR.

    And he hasn’t changed now, nor will he EVER.

    What was the N A L C thinking?

  4. once again uninformed lobbiest are going around spreading gossip about something they know nothing about just because they can’t get their hands in the cookie jar and want to blame the employees as the reason. why doesn’t any one ever mention most employees pay 400.00 a month on their medical plans, and will have to pay it after they retire, they have to pay for life insurance once they retire. no one mentions the fers rip off, i call it the never being able to afford retirement plan unless you win the lotto. no one mentions retirement is half of our salaries now if you are under CSRS and they take at least 500 a month of that to pay for taxes, insurance so on so forth. and the almighty you can retire at 55 thank god, but if you go any earlier you get penalized 2 percent of your retirement for each year that you go before 55 so you can have the years but not the age. my first early out offer i got was 600 a month with medical to be taken out of that. i am still there. i don’t want people attacking that as a reason for me to retire and then go drive a taxi because that is all i am capable of (i am a us army veteran just after vietnam) what an insult. it’s just that the union is trying to not use these examples of why postal employees stay so long and as far as being unskilled labor how do they know do they know everyone that works at the post office. my doctor once worked at the post office she needed a job while she was in college to pay the bills. if these people can spread this propoganda so easily and the world believes it can you imagine the other lies they tell to get their way or to distroy someone. makes you want to live in a cave in utah.

  5. That’s OK President Rolando. Didn’t the NALC also endorse Hillary? I withdrew my endorsement of the NALC 15 months ago. Worry less about politics and more about your members.

  6. An NALC endorsement or not isn’t going to make a bit of difference in the election. How many of his constituency are USPS employees? Not enough to make a difference most likely.

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