Last week, the U.S. Postal Service gave Congress and the Obama administration new evidence that urgent action is needed to avert a postal financial crisis before September 30. It took the extraordinary step of suspending payroll contributions for FERS retirement benefits to preserve its cash reserves, which have been depleted by years of massive payments to pre-fund future retiree health benefits, a mandate imposed by Congress in 2006.
Congress must reform the destructive pre-funding provisions of the law now—not by waiving the payments, but by letting USPS use its own surplus pension funds to cover them. H.R. 1351, the bill introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and co-sponsored by 159 other members of Congress from both parties, provides such relief.
If Congress fails to take action between now and September 30, not only will there be a cash crisis in September, when the next $5.5 billion pre-funding payment is due, but the Postal Service and its employees will be exposed to ideologically driven attacks like those we’ve seen against public employees and their unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and other states.
If you doubt me, look no further than the radical postal reform bill just introduced by Republican Reps. Darrel Issa (CA) and Dennis Ross (FL), H.R. 2309. It seeks to solve the financial problem facing USPS by attacking our pay, benefits and collective-bargaining rights while unleashing unelected overseers to recklessly downsize the Postal Service and micro-manage its operations—including its labor relations. Worse, H.R. 2309 ignores the main cause of the crisis (the unfair pre-funding burden) and the best solution to it (using our own pension surpluses to relieve that burden).
NALC will fight H.R. 2309 with all its might.
We need you to call or write your member of Congress this week to deliver two messages:
- Express your opposition to the Issa/Ross postal reform bill. It fails to address the principal cause of the postal crisis—the pre-funding mandate—and it would destroy the Postal Service.
- Urge your member to support the bipartisan reform offered by H.R. 1351. Go to the NALC website to find out whether your representative is one of the 159 members of Congress who have co-sponsored H.R. 1351. Urge those who have not co-sponsored it to do so as soon as possible; thank those who have, and encourage them to promote the bill with their colleagues.
The future of the Postal Service, your job security and your standard of living depend on what happens in Congress in the weeks and months ahead. Please do your part to help convince Congress to act. Do you need to update your NALC e-Activist Network e-mail address or other account information? Please click here.
Fredric V. Rolando, President
National Association of Letter Carriers
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