APWU President Cliff Guffey has called on Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to correct inaccurate statements he made on Washington Journal, a public affairs program that airs on C-SPAN. “I am sure you will agree with me that it is important to conduct the discussion about how to help the Postal Service through its financial difficulties on the basis of actual facts, not misstatements,” Guffey wrote on Sept. 23 [PDF].
In an interview with Greta Brawner that aired on Sept. 20, Rep. Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, responded to the assertion that the Postal Service no other federal agency or private company is required to pre-fund health care benefits for future retirees by saying, “That’s disingenuous. Private firms all pre-fund. We have a law.”
Guffey’s letter said, “In fact, there is no law requiring other agencies or private companies to pre-fund the health care benefits of future retirees.” Without these payments, the Postal Service would have accumulated a surplus over the past four fiscal years, he noted.
The letter pointed out that a November 2010 report by the Postal Service Office of the Inspector General found that the federal government does not pre-fund at all and neither do many Fortune 1000 companies. Among the Fortune 1000 companies that pre-fund, the average level is 28 percent, the OIG reported. If the Postal Service were simply required to pre-fund retiree health benefits at a 30 percent level, it would have a surplus in its retiree health benefits fund of $9.2 billion, the OIG concluded.
“We hope you will correct your misstatement,” Guffey wrote.
Rep. Issa is the author of H.R. 2309, a bill that the APWU has labeled a “reckless assault on postal service and postal employees.” The bill does not address the pre-fund requirement, nor does it address overpayments by the Postal Service to the Federal Employees Retirement System and the Civil Service Retirement System. The bill was passed by the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy on Sept. 21 in a party-line vote. The full committee is expected to consider the bill on Oct. 5.