USPS: Is Congress trying to destroy it? Or just its union?
Yesterday NPR's Tell Me More had a segment on the postal service, the planned closings, and the planned layoffs.
The following comments from the transcript (at link above) provide in a nutshell what has caused the current financial problems, how they could be remedied, and, alas, show perhaps a hidden agenda on the part of Congress in imposing this pension burden on the US Post Office. Union breaking, anyone? Oh, and the Post Office has been running a profit? Right through the current Great Recession and Jobs Depression.
MAINOR (executive vice president for a local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, a union that represents postal workers in North Carolina): OK. First of all, Tony, in 2006, Congress mandated the postal service to prefund future health care retirees' benefits for 75 years and to do so within 10 years. And if you look at the bottom line, the post office actually had a net operating revenue without this onerous burden, which amounts to seven to ten percent of our budget each year.
And additionally, the postal service has overpaid both retirement accounts for FERS and civil service retirements anywhere from 50 to 70 billion dollars. And we're just asking Congress - we're not asking to pay the money back to us. Just give us credit for that money and if you go back to 2006, this has only been a problem since 2006, since the Postal Act that created this burden on us to pay $5.5 billion per year off the top to fund future retirees' benefit plan.
COX (guest host): Philip, let me bring the last question to you because our time is run out. Where do you see the future of the post office, briefly, five years from today?
RUBIO (assistant professor of history at North Carolina A&T University and a former postal worker): Well, the post office has got to get through these scare tactics that unnecessarily are laying people off or proposing laying people off, essentially, breaking the union by getting rid of the no layoff clause and eliminating health care benefits and switching to cheaper plans.
Closing post offices - I know people are upset about that all over the country. I think it's going to take a lot of people waking up and getting the facts.
Just to piggyback on what Jimmy said, a lot of people don't know - some don't want to know - that the post office has actually turned a profit in the last four years, even through the recession, so it's only those prefund mandates that Jimmy talked about that cause the post office to be so far in the hole, because otherwise, they've turned a profit of $837 million in the last four years, $226 million in the last quarter.
Now, that's not a hefty sum, you could say, but the post office's mission is universal service and to be self-supporting. It could do that if legislation went through Congress right now.
Stephen Lynch, the Democrat from Massachusetts, has proposed that HR1351 that would allow the post office to use surplus from its pension plans to prefund those benefits and not have to take it out of operating expenses because the post office actually still is a going concern. It's a myth that it's a dinosaur and that it should inevitably fall apart. (My emphasis)
For all its faults, NPR still covers important information which is hard to find elsewhere on the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media).
I would appreciate input from anyone who knows more about the FERS contributions Mainor mentions. Is this another example of directed payment perhaps being used to permit those big tax cuts to the Top One Percenters, which go mainly to the Zero Dot One Percenters?