NALC: Proposed budget preserves six-day mail delivery and offers postal relief

The U.S. Postal Service received some good news from the Obama administration Feb. 14 when the White House released its proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year.

“By proposing significant short-term financial help for the Postal Service in his budget, President Obama clearly stands with the NALC and our goal of getting the Service back on the right financial track,” NALC President Fredric V. Rolando said. “But we all need to keep one thing in mind—that this budget proposal is just that: a proposal.

“With a divided Congress, there’s little doubt that we face an uphill fight for real pre-funding reform,” he said. “But we believe that a strong Postal Service is a bipartisan policy.”

Obama’s proposed budget still calls for pre-funding future postal retiree health benefits as mandated by the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, but on a more reasonable payment schedule. It also calls for reducing the Postal Service’s overall pre-funding payment obligation for the 2011 fiscal year by $4 billion.

“These steps to provide USPS with the breathing room necessary to continue restructuring its operations without severe disruptions must be coupled with meaningful reforms to its business model to make USPS viable for the medium and long term,” the budget reads.

Another promising part of the 2012 budget proposal is the inclusion of a provision directing the Office of Personnel Management to refund the almost $7 billion surplus in the Postal Service’s Federal Employees Retirement System account over the next 30 years, beginning with a $550 million payment this year. While the NALC welcomes the administration’s recognition that the FERS surplus should be returned to the USPS, we believe this policy should be applied to the much bigger CSRS surplus (estimated to be between $55 billion and $75 billion) and that the funds should be returned much more quickly so that they can be used to cover the cost of the pre-funding payments.

Meanwhile, in a clear victory for letter carrier activism over the past year, the language preserving six-day delivery has once again been included in appropriations bills brought before Congress. In setting the amount for “revenue forgone” to cover the costs of free and reduced rate mail, the 2012 spending plan says payments will be made “provided that 6-day delivery and rural delivery of mail shall continue at not less than the 1983 level.”

“We continue to hit hard the message that six-day mail delivery is good for America, and our representatives are hearing us,” President Rolando said. “But real letter carrier activists understand that these kinds of victories are temporary, and that we need to keep spreading the six-day message for as long as the Postal Service presses for short-sighted service cuts.”

The president’s budget also addresses reforms of the Federal Employee Compensation Act and calls for eliminating small annual payments to the Postal Service for past revenue forgone appropriations that were not paid to cover the cost of fee mail to the blind. NALC is studying the administration’s FECA proposal and will report full details in the days and weeks ahead, and we will oppose the cut in revenue forgone payments.

source: National Association Of Letter Carriers