Filed under: Congress, politics, postal, postal news, postal reform, usps
From eNAPUS Legislative & Political Bulletin
Although the U.S. Senate was able to approve a consensus measure to provide fiscal relief to the US Postal Service months ago, the House of Representatives dropped the ball and skipped town without considering postal relief legislation. Just as troubling is that the House Leadership seems to be confused about the definition of “default”, the implication of their inaction and the effect on their constituents.
The House of Representatives, in a dereliction of its obligation to sustain a constitutionally-established governmental service, bolted from the Capitol late Thursday, without addressing the essential needs of the nation’s universal mail service. Based upon an on-the-record conversation between House Majority Leaders Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), it appears that the House Majority will move a bill only when a postal-shutdown is near.
Last week, during a colloquy be-tween the two congressmen, Hoyer asked Cantor when a postal bill would be voted on, so House and Senate conferees could resolve any differences between a House bill and the already-Senate-passed bill (S. 1789).
Hoyer alluded to the narrowly-approved bill reported by the House Oversight and Govern-ment Reform Committee back in October 2011 (H.R. 2309). Finally, Hoyer opined that the USPS is “facing default” in its obligations unless legislation is enacted. (The USPS defaulted on a $5.6 billion retiree health pre-funding payment on August 1.) Cantor responded to Hoyer in three ways: First, he claimed that S. 1789 does not have the support of the majority of the House (i.e., the Republicans). Second, Cantor stated that the GOP Leadership is continuing to work with Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) to assure that “there is not an incidence of default.” Finally, Cantor asserted that “the USPS has indicated that there is no risk of default in the short-term.”
In sum, the future of the USPS may be held hostage to legislative demands that could destroy its foundation and eviscerate the communities and customers it serves.
APWU Web News Article 95-2012, Aug. 2, 2012
Arbitrator Shyam Das has closed the record of an arbitration hearing regarding the number of hours postmasters in small offices may work.
A Memorandum of Understanding in the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement places strict limits on the number of hours postmasters may work in Level 15, 16, 18 and 20 post offices.
The Memo says, “All time the supervisor or postmaster spends staffing the window during the day will be counted towards the permissible bargaining unit work limits.” Despite this clear language, the USPS is arguing that management must only count “earned time” as described in a unilaterally created work measurement system.
In addition, in spite of language that states that “any office downgraded in level will remain at the bargaining unit work standard that is in place at the beginning of the Agreement,” the management claims an exception for DUO (Delivery Unit Optimization) offices. The union’s grievance on the subject was heard on June 26-27, 2012, but the arbitrator kept the record open for 30 days. Briefs will now be filed and a decision will follow.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Michael McCree, 60, and his wife Debra Fields, 58, both of Vacaville, were charged today in two separate indictments for fraud, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
McCree was charged with 18 counts of making false statements in order to receive Workers’ Compensation and other compensations and reimbursements. According to the indictment, McCree worked for the U.S. Post Office for six months in 1988 and 1989 before filing a workers’ compensation claim for an alleged back injury. Since 1989, the Department of Labor has been paying McCree monthly wage loss compensation and reimbursements for medical-related travel. From January 2007 through June 2012, McCree received more than $120,000 in reimbursements for travel, but according to court documents, he did not travel to the location listed and did not receive medical treatment. Read more
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