APWU Web News Article 95-2012, Aug. 2, 2012
The House of Representatives passed a bill on July 31 that could cost federal and postal workers their jobs if they are behind in paying their federal taxes.
The Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act (H.R. 828), introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and approved by the chamber by a vote of 263 to 114, stipulates that “persons having seriously delinquent tax debts shall be ineligible for Federal employment.”
The bill defines “seriously delinquent” as debt for which a lien notice has been filed in public records.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the bill would not apply to debt:
- That is being paid in a timely manner under an approved installment payment agreement or an offer-in-compromise;
- For which a collection due process hearing has been requested or pending;
- For which a levy has been issued or agreed to by an applicant for employment, or
- That is determined to be an economic hardship to the taxpayer.
Under the act, U.S. government employees would have 60 days to prove that their tax debt is not seriously delinquent before facing termination.
Leading opposition to the legislation during debate on the House floor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said that the measure would be “largely symbolic” because 96 percent of federal employees pay their taxes.
When the bill was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in April,
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who chairs the committee, conceded that the bill is “almost pure symbolism.”
“That clearly was the intent,” said APWU Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid. “Families that are struggling in a depressed economy to meet their financial obligations – often through no fault of their own – could now lose their only source of income, which strangely enough could have helped to pay the outstanding debt.”
“I strongly believe that the House’s efforts and energy would be better spent on focusing on measures to strengthen the federal civil service and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government,” Maloney said, “rather than by making symbolic gestures that reinforce a negative view of the federal work force.”
Critics have observed that Chaffetz’s bill does not apply to government contractors and their employees, and that the chamber’s Republican majority has not considered legislation offered by Democrats that would apply the employment ban for tax delinquency to private-sector work that is paid for with federal funds.
H.R. 828 has been referred to the Senate, where a similar bill (S. 376), introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), has not been acted upon.
Filed under: postal, postal news, postal reform, press releases
WASHINGTON – Anticipating the imminent default by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on its required pre-payment for future retiree health benefits, the Senate authors of comprehensive postal reform legislation Wednesday urged the House of Representatives to consider its own version of postal reform legislation quickly.
Senators Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Tom Carper, D-Del., and Scott Brown, R-Mass. authored reform legislation to shore up the Postal Service’s financial solvency. That legislation passed the Senate in April. The House must act now and allow the two chambers to reconcile the differences between the bills.
Lieberman, who is Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman, said: “In the absence of reform legislation, the financial condition of the Postal Service continues to deteriorate to the extent that it will miss a $5 billion payment to its healthcare fund for future retirees today and is likely to miss the next payment as well. The Postmaster General is running out of options, and, unless Congress acts, draconian cuts are a certainty in the future. The Senate passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act in April. It is long past time for the House to take up its own postal legislation so that we can get the Postal Service back on solid financial footing before essential services are lost for millions of people.” Read more
Video: As U.S. Postal Service Faces Default, Critics See Manufactured Crisis to Speed Up Privatization
From Democracy Now : For months, Americans have heard dire warnings about the impending collapse of the United States Postal Service due to fiscal insolvency. As Republicans push to privatize the post office, the agency is now bracing for its first-ever default today. Unlike every other governmental agency, the Postal Service is required to fund 75 years of retiree health benefits over just a 10-year span. We discuss the fight over the Postal Service with Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Chuck Zlatkin of the New York Metro Area Postal Union. “The American people have to wake up here about what’s happening with the Postal Service,” Kucinich says. “The whole concept of the Postal Service, embedded in that is the idea of universal service, that if you’re poor, you live in a rural area, you’re going to get served just like someone who lives in a city and who may be wealthy.”
The Postal Service’s default on a $5.5 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury due Aug. 1 is the result of a congressionally-manufactured financial crisis and could have been avoided, APWU President Cliff Guffey has charged.
Although the default won’t have immediate consequences for mail delivery or on employees’ pay, the Postal Service’s precarious financial situation is forcing the agency to scale back overnight mail delivery, close half of the nation’s mail processing centers, and slash hours at post offices, the union president pointed out. And businesses, communities and individual customers are bracing for more severe cuts in the months ahead. Read more
APWU Web News Article 91-2012, July 31, 2012
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the APWU are investigating the death of APWU member Steny Wing Hoi Yu, who died July 27 from injuries sustained in work-related accident at the Detroit NDC on July 23.
Although the investigation of the accident is still underway, reports indicate that Yu’s injuries were the result of falling approximately 10 feet from a “fixed” ladder. Yu is reported to have been carrying a fire extinguisher up the ladder in an attempt to fight a fire.
The Detroit Metro Area Local is working closely with OSHA and the APWU to assist in the investigation.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “We extend our deepest sympathies to Steny Wing Hoi Yu’s family and co-workers.”
Yu is survived by his wife, Syndia and two daughters, Yvonne and Angela.
APWU Web News Article 92-2012, July 31, 2012
The APWU and a retired union member have resolved a lawsuit against the Postal Service and an Accounting Services manager for violations of the Debt Collection Act, Industrial Relations Director Mike Morris has announced. The suit charged that the USPS and the manager routinely violated the rights of retired employees by instructing the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to withhold a portion of the monthly annuities of retirees who had appealed Letters of Demand before they left the Postal Service.
Letters of Demand are issued when management alleges an employee is responsible for a financial loss to the Postal Service. The letters are subject to appeal through the grievance procedure and collection of alleged debts must be postponed until appeals have been exhausted. Read more
From the USPS Office Of Inspector General:
July 25, 2012
MEMORANDUM FOR: PATRICK R. DONAHOE – POSTMASTER GENERAL
David C. Williams – Inspector General
This memorandum provides the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) review of U.S. Postal Service liquidity projections as of June 2012 (Project Number 12BD016FI000). Without legislation to eliminate or defer prefunding payments into the Retiree Health Benefits Fund, the U.S. Postal Service will likely default on the $11.1 billion in payments due in fiscal year (FY) 20121 and the $5.6 billion payment due in FY 2013. In addition to these defaults, the Postal Service projects an estimated $100 million cash shortfall on October 15, 2012, with a slow increase in liquidity from October through December 2012. Liquidity risks and shortfalls are projected to return in spring 2013 through October 2013, with the Postal Service projecting an estimated $1.2 billion cash shortfall in mid-October 2013.
These liquidity concerns exist even with the expected Postal Service default on the Retiree Health Benefits prefunding payments. To preserve its liquidity, the Postal Service presented the following additional measures for consideration: withhold employer contributions to the overfunded Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) pension fund, and consider three different options for reimbursement of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) workers’ compensation claims and administration costs. Read more
Business as usual
The Postal Service’s decision not to make two payments to fund retiree health benefits — due Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 — will have no impact on employee pay or operations.
In a prepared statement, USPS said it will “continue to deliver the mail, pay our employees and suppliers and meet our other financial obligations.”
The $5.5 billion payment due Aug. 1 and the $5.6 billion payment due Sept. 30 are required by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which became law in 2006.
The statement also said that the Postal Service is moving ahead with implementation of its strategic plan, adding “comprehensive postal legislation is needed in order to return the Postal Service to long-term financial stability.” USPS says it “remains hopeful” a new law will be enacted during the current Congress.
via USPS News Link
WASHINGTON, July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The pending August 1st “default” of the U.S. Postal Service is not primarily the result of a bad market or even bad operations, but of bad legislating by Congress. The only thing that will happen on Wednesday is that the Postal Service will not pay $5.6 billion into a fund for futureretiree health benefits — a fund that already has $45 billion, enough to pay for decades of future retiree health care.
At the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), our two highest priorities are ensuring the long-term health of the Postal Service and protecting the well being of our country’s active and retired letter carriers. If we thought our retired members were in danger of losing their health care, we’d be screaming bloody murder about it. But the retirees are fine and so is their health insurance. And on August 1st, the mail will continue to be delivered and employees will continue to be paid. Read more
The U.S. Postal Service will not make mandated prefunding retiree health benefit payments to the Treasury of $5.5 billion due Aug. 1, 2012 or the $5.6 billion payment due Sept. 30, absent legislation enacted by Congress. This action will have no material effect on the operations of the Postal Service. We will fully fund our operations, including our obligation to provide universal postal services to the American people. We will continue to deliver the mail, pay our employees and suppliers and meet our other financial obligations. Postal Service retirees and employees will also continue to receive their health benefits. Our customers can be confident in the continued regular operations of the Postal Service.
The Postal Service continues to implement its strategic plan. However, comprehensive postal legislation is needed to return the Postal Service to long-term financial stability. We remain hopeful that such legislation can be enacted during the current Congress.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.