Sen. Carper introduced postal reform bill yesterday
May 18, 2011
In conjunction with a Senate subcommittee hearing held Wednesday on the financial condition of the U.S. Postal Service, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced a new version of the Postal Operations Sustainment and Transformation Act. The POST Act (introduced as Senate bill S. 1010) would fairly resolve the pension and retiree health pre-funding burdens that have damaged the Postal Service’s finances in recent years. It would require the Office of Personnel Management to accurately calculate the postal surpluses in the CSRS and FERS pension plans and allow the USPS to use the recovered funds to pay the heavy cost of pre-funding future retiree health. The bill also would provide greater freedom to use the USPS’s networks to offer new products and services to generate new revenue, including the delivery of beer and wine and the provision of services for state and local governments.
NALC strongly supports the POST Act’s retirement cost provisions and the new commercial freedoms it offers. These provisions would restore the long-term viability of the Postal Service. Unfortunately, the bill is marred by two provisions that we cannot support – the elimination of six-day delivery and the addition of pro-management changes to the law governing collective bargaining disputes. The bill would allow the USPS to unilaterally cut the number of delivery days from six to five – or even to four or three days – without Congressional authorization. And it would permanently mandate the consideration of three pro-management instructions to interest arbitrators (with no balancing worker considerations) before issuing a decision to resolve contract impasses in the future. We believe that the delivery-frequency provision is unwise and that the arbitration changes are both unfair and unnecessary.
The Carper bill’s introduction follows the introduction of a similar bill by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) earlier this year. Called The Postal Service Improvement Act of 2011 or S. 353, it includes the core retirement cost reforms in the Carper bill. NALC believes a narrow finance bill that enjoys the broad support of the postal industry and wide bipartisan backing in the Congress has the best chance of enactment. We look forward to working with Sens. Carper and Collins in the Senate and with a growing bipartisan group in the House that has endorsed the Lynch bill to ensure the continued provision of universal postal services.