Issa introduces draconian postal reform bill
Misguided bill is 'a missed opportunity,'
June 23, 2011 -- Rep. Darrell
Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government
Reform Committee, and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), chairman of the committee's
subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and District
of Columbia, introduced a comprehensive postal reform bill today
in the House of Representatives. Sadly, it fails to address the
central cause of the financial crisis facing the Postal Service—the
destructive and unique mandate to massively pre-fund future retiree
health benefits that accounts for 100 percent of the Postal Service's
losses over the past four years. Instead, the bill proposes radical
changes that would recklessly downsize the U.S. Postal Service in
a way that would seriously damage the $1.3 trillion mailing industry
and the entire U.S. economy.
"We are very disappointed in
the Issa-Ross bill," NALC President Fredric V. Rolando said.
"We hoped for a more common sense, practical and non-ideological
approach to an institution that has historically engendered strong
bipartisan support. Instead, we got a draconian downsizing plan
and a misguided and unjustifiable attack on hard-working postal
employees who provide the most affordable and highest quality
mail service in the world."
Rather than taking sensible action to avert a financial crisis
that would result from the failure of the Postal Service to make
the next unaffordable $5.5 billion pre-funding payment for future
retiree health benefits (due in September), the bill seeks to take
advantage of the pending cash crisis to force a massive downsizing
and to launch a frontal assault on the pay, benefits and collective
bargaining rights of postal employees. Indeed, it fails to even
mention the massive surpluses in the Postal Service pension accounts
that two private, independent auditors have confirmed over the past
two years—surpluses that can and should be used to resolve
the financial crisis caused by the pre-funding mandate.
Under the Issa-Ross plan, tens if not hundreds of thousands of
good middle-class jobs, many of them filled for decades by military
veterans, would be needlessly destroyed.
The core of the bill is the creation of two unelected groups authorized
to take extreme steps to cut costs and reduce services, one to generate
lists of post offices and facilities to be closed and one to serve
as financial overseers with the power to alter or nullify collective
bargaining agreements and to make other operational decisions to
reduce expenses. The Board of Governors and Congress would be effectively
marginalized under the bill.
The bill would allow the Postal Service to eliminate Saturday delivery—inconveniencing
millions of residents and businesses—and would repeal the
right of postal employees to bargain over health and life insurance
benefits, a right won more than 40 years ago. It would also inject
political issues into the process for resolving collective bargaining
impasses and unfairly restructure interest arbitrations by giving
pro-management factors top priority in the law.
"It seems the war on collective
bargaining that we have seen in the states has come to Washington,"
NALC is in the process of studying the lengthy Issa-Ross bill in
detail. Meanwhile, the union will continue to work with the Obama
administration and with leaders in the Senate from both parties
to develop more moderate and sensible solutions to the Postal Service's
We will also seek to work with Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and the
bipartisan group of 153 other co-sponsors of his bill, H.R. 1351,
to make progress in the House of Representatives. H.R. 1351 would
allow the USPS to use its pension surpluses to cover its pre-funding
costs, thereby resolving the immediate financial crisis without
"We regret very much that Representatives Issa and Ross
have taken this approach. We view it as a missed opportunity,"
President Rolando said. "Historically, the constitutionally
mandated Post Office has been an issue that has been spared the
destructive impact of partisan politics. We remain hopeful that
a more reasonable, bipartisan bill can be developed in the House
using H.R. 1351 as the starting point."