Darrell Issa Prepares Latest Bill to Dismantle the Postal Service and Other Top Stories From the Past Week

Rep. Issa (R-CA) Address Bill Clinton's Contact With Rep. Joe SestakDarrell Issa’s Latest Bill Would Let USPS Mandate Centralized Delivery, Allow Anyone to Put Stuff In Your Mailbox from postalnews.com

Congressman Darrell Issa, the self-appointed “watchdog” of the US Postal Service, has introduced yet another “reform” proposal. So far, none of Issa’s proposals have gotten much support, even from his own party- whether or not this one does remains to be seen.

Issa is obviously desperate to get someone, anyone, to back him. How desperate? He’s dropped the most outrageous provisions of his earlier bills, like the one that would have laid off any postal worker eligible for retirement, and he’s come up with what I’m sure he considers a master stroke-he claims his bill is actually Barack Obama’s idea.

Seriously.

Don’t believe me? According to the draft version, the bill’s title is “The Administration’s Postal Reform Act of 2014″. (You can’t make this stuff up!) Presumably he will present the bill as an incredibly clever “gotcha” moment that will provide him with some especially snide remarks to make at his next show trial committee hearing.

So what’s actually in “The Administration”‘s bill? A couple of items that have appeared in the administration’s budget proposals (but which have never actually been introduced as legislation), like allowing five day delivery, and some that the administration has expressed some support for, like reducing the PAEA trust fund mandate. But the items that will no doubt attract the most attention are ones that Issa himself admits were never proposed by “the Administration.” (Read the rest of the Postal News item here.)

Issa Prepares Postal Reform “Lite.” from naps.org

Rep. Darrell Issa (D-CA), chair of the House oversight committee, is drafting a new stripped-down postal bill that he says tracks the Obama Administration’s primary proposals for overhauling the Postal Service.  (It doesn’t, at least not entirely.)

Issa could introduce his new measure as early as next week, after Congress returns from its two-week Easter/Passover recess.  A discussion draft of the new legislation, released by Issa’s staff, is here.  Issa’s controversial and sweeping postal reform bill (H.R. 2748), proposed last year, continues to languish in the House and is unlikely to be brought to the floor. Whether this new bill is destined to go further, or is largely a political charade designed to test the allegiance of House Democrats to the White House, remains uncertain.

The Issa measure would end Saturday delivery, phase out curbside delivery, require USPS to  partially pay its pre-funding obligations, and refund to USPS its FERS overpayments. It also would allow USPS to leverage its resources and collaborate with state and local governments in service delivery. These actions were recommended by the Obama Administration in its FY 2015 proposed budget, a continuation of earlier proposals. (Read the rest of the NAPS.org article here.)

Unions Protest Postal Service Deal With Staples by Josh Hicks, The Washington Post

Postal workers demonstrated at Staples stores nationwide Thursday to protest a recent U.S. Postal Service deal that allows the office-supply chain to operate USPS retail counters at some of its locations as part of a pilot program.

The financially struggling Postal Service said its agreement is part of a plan to increase convenience and boost business through new partnerships. The agency also has contracted with Amazon to provide package deliveries on Sundays for the online retailer.

Labor groups say the Staples deal represents a shift toward privatization for the USPS. They accuse the agency of jeopardizing mail security and supporting low-wage employment over dependable union jobs.

“The people of this country should have their postal services performed by postal employees — well-trained, in uniform, under the code of ethical conduct and accountable for protecting the sanctity and security and privacy of the mail,” said Mark Dimondstein, national president of the American Postal Workers Union. “That doesn’t happen when the mail is not in the mail system.”

Dimondstein added that the Staples deal makes little sense in light of the retailer’s recent struggles. The company announced in March that it would close 225 stores in an effort to trim costs amid weakened sales.

The Postal Service has defended its Staples agreement, denying that the agency is developing broad plans for privatizing post-office work.

“This retail partnership program could be an innovative step towards generating revenue to ensure the long-term viability of the Postal Service,” the agency said in a statement. (Read the rest of The Washington Post story here.)

Postal Service Isn’t As Wasteful As Critics Say–It’s a National Treasure by NALC President Fredric Rolando

The Augusta Chronicle, a leading news source for Georgia and beyond, published an editorial April 5 about the U.S. Postal Service (“Efficiency down to the letter”). You accurately noted that the Postal Service isn’t budgeted a dime of taxpayer money; it earns its revenue by selling stamps.

But you repeated some conventional wisdom about the Postal Service, much of it I believe is misleading. Given the Postal Service’s particular importance to the Peach State, with its large rural areas, major urban centers and thousands of small businesses, I’d like to offer more facts.

THE POSTAL SERVICE enjoys more than 80 percent public approval, and letter carriers year after year are ranked the most trusted federal employees.

International studies consistently show that the Postal Service provides Americans, and their businesses, with the world’s most affordable delivery network.

There’s a prevailing myth that the Postal Service is losing billions a year because folks are using the Internet, and therefore is on a downward trajectory.

But in fact, the Postal Service had a $632 million operating profit in 2013, and this year’s first quarter alone showed $1.1 billion in black ink.

THIS GOOD performance reflects three positive trends. The economy is gradually improving from the worst recession in 80 years, curbing the decline in letter revenue.

Meanwhile, people are shopping online, leading to skyrocketing package revenue, up 14 percent in the past quarter. This growth in e-commerce makes the Internet a net positive for the Postal Service. And worker productivity is at record highs.

There is red ink, but it stems from congressional interference, not from the mail. In 2006 a lame-duck Congress mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits. No other public or private entity is required to pre-fund for even one year; the Postal Service must do so 75 years into the future, and pay for it all within 10 years. The resulting $5.6 billion annual charge accounts for 100 percent of postal “losses.” (Read the rest of President Rolando’s column here.)

Additional postal stories:

Our Historic Post Offices Should Not Be For Sale, Period!

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive…Feeding America’s Hungry–Learn How You Can Help.

Senate Postal Bill Would Cut Workers’ Comp For Feds Across the Government.

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