From National Association of Postmasters of the United States (NAPUS) e-newsletter
On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) intends to conduct a hearing on legislative proposals that seek to avert a “Postal shutdown.” This is the first time in recent memory that the full Committee, rather than its Postal Subcommittee, will convene a postal hearing. The impending USPS default on its $5.6B payment to prefund its retiree health obligations, the legislative bottleneck that has delayed passage of postal relief, as well as three new and highly-controversial USPS proposals played a role in scheduling this forum. Beginning at 2:00 PM EDT, the hearing may be viewed on the Senate Committee website here.
Two weeks ago, Chairman Lieberman’s office reached out to NAPUS to coordinate the designation of a single witness to represent USPS postmasters and supervisors. The presidents of the three managerial organizations settled on NAPS President Louis Adkins to deliver oral testimony on behalf of all three associations, since NAPUS and League Presidents testified most recently before the Senate Postal Subcommittee. Even so, NAPUS will submit written testimony to the Committee, representing the views of its 38,000 members. The invited witnesses include: PMG Patrick Donahoe, a representative of the White House Office of Personnel Management, a representative of the Government Accountability Office, the President of the American Postal Workers Union, a representative of the magazine industry, and a representative of the newspaper industry.
Postal employee groups continue to focus on passing legislation to correct the Postal Service’s overpayments into the Civil Service Retirement Trust Fund and permit the agency to access the surplus to pre-pay its retiree health obligations. However, USPS Headquarters has redirected its efforts to advance a draconian proposal to withdraw from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). NAPUS’ Senate testimony, in addition to urging the panel to report legislation to address the pension overpayments, objects to the ill-conceived plan to abandon the FEHBP. As Postmasters should recall, FEHBP was heralded by many as a model for a national health system because of participant choice, aggressive cost-containment, extraordinary efficiency, and effective health promotion. Moreover, past experiences with agency withdrawal from the FEHBP (e.g., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve Board) were dismal failures, resulting in the agencies having to buy their way back into the FEHBP. Special was legislation needed. NAPUS strongly believes that the USPS should not be permitted to risk the health care protection of its employees and retirees based on the recommendation of consultants who have been counseling the USPS to withdraw from the FEHBP since the late 1980s.
NAPUS testimony also plans to discuss the adverse effect that USPS plans to close a yet-to-be-determined number of small and rural post offices would have on rural communities. Moreover, NAPUS will renew its request that the current statutory prohibition against closing a post office solely for running a deficit and the requirement that the Postal Service provide a maximum degree of postal services to small and rural communities be retained.