Federal Employees Call-In Day Opposing White House’s 2018 Budget

Letter carriers and other federal employees — past and present–and their adult family members are being urged to call their senators and House representatives today to voice Call Congress 2opposition to the White House’s 2018 budget. A flyer from the NALC gives information on why this bill is a financial threat to letter carriers, the USPS, and other federal employees can be found here: NALC flyer.

The flyer reads in part:

Since 2011, postal and federal employees have been ripped off time and again–to the tune of more than $180 billion–in the name of deficit reduction. Without any additional benefit, we’ve seen a three-year pay freeze, reduced pay increases, unpaid furlough days and two increases in retirement contributions for new hires.

You are asked to call 844-904-7029 (Washington, DC) and 855-982-3154 and urge your senators and House representative to oppose this budget.

To see what’s at stake for you and your family, go to NALC flyer.

NALC: Medicare Premiums Set to Spike in January; Call Your Representatives

Medicare_grandparents

NALC Legislative Dept.

As NALC members may have heard, the Social Security Administration recently announced that there would be no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2016. As a result, Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles are set to spike beginning this January. Fortunately, legislation to fix the issue has been introduced in both the House and Senate. Click here to read about the bills. All NALC members should ask their House and Senate members to co-sponsor these bills to correct this injustice to federal and postal retirees. Please call the Capitol Switchboard at (202)-224-3121 to get started.

Also of interest:

Budget deficit reduction bill

This past week, House lawmakers passed a package that would repeal parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act law dealing with the individual and employee mandates, the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices, the upcoming tax on high-cost employer plans and the soon-to-be implemented mandate of automatically enrolling new full-time employees in health care coverage. The bill also would block funding for Planned Parenthood for one year while providing funds to community health centers for women’s health care. The bill seeks to reduce the deficit by $85.9 billion over 10 years. The White House issued a statement of administration policy pledging to veto the package. Click here to read more.

NALC President Fred Rolando: Defending the Mailbox From Privatization.

Bernie Sanders Addresses Postal Union to Decry USPS Privatization.

We Knew It All Along

It’s hard to believe that the purpose behind the 2006 legislation requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund its health benefits for its retirees 75 years into the future was anything other than a veiled attempt at driving nails into the agency’s coffin and then resurrecting the decomposing corpse into a private, profit-making corporation. Why else would Congress require the USPS to pay $5.6 billion into such a fund over a 10 year period? It certainly wasn’t intended to benefit the agency’s retirees. Postal Service_Stop Delaying America's Mail_newson6Politicians, especially those of the past 20 years or so, have had little regard for federal workers and federal retirees.

Many of our politicians see federal workers—that is you—as unnecessary and a drag on the economy. After all, as a letter carrier and a union member, you make more than the minimum wage, you have decent benefits—like health insurance—and a pension when you retire. Shameful!

No, the intent of the 2006 Republican-led lame duck Congress was clear: suck the life-blood out of the Postal Service. Use the pre-funding money to shore up the U.S. Treasury while at the same time insisting that the Postal Service is irreparably broken and the only way to save it is to privatize it.

We understand that many politicians act at the behest of lobbyists who, in turn, act at the behest of large corporations with deep pockets. For decades the Postal Service has been a cash cow for the U.S. government. There are those in the private sector who would like for that cow to be theirs.

What’s so alarming is the fact that it’s not just politicians and other money-hungry individuals who are working hard to transform a service-oriented agency into a money-making corporation. Not only has there been a concentrated attack on the Postal Service from without, but also—incredibly—from within.

Just as it’s hard to believe that the 2006 lame duck Congress had the best interest of the Postal Service and the American public at heart when it passed the crippling pre-funding mandate, it’s equally hard to believe that upper level postal management, and past postmasters general, are concerned about preserving this valuable American institution. After all, they have been fighting tooth and nail to have it dismantled one post office and one mail processing plant at a time. It has become a prolonged ‘Going Out of Business” sale.

It’s been nearly a decade now since the pre-funding debacle and the USPS, no thanks to Congress or postal management, is still afloat. And you wouldn’t know it from much of the media or postal management, but the Postal Service is actually making a profit. Last year it made a $1.4 billion operating profit. And this year it has already eclipsed that figure.

Refusing to acknowledge that the agency is recovering from the earlier recession and is making an operating profit, the Postal Service continues to pursue plans to reduce its effectiveness. To that end, back in 2012, under the leadership of then postmaster general Patrick Donahoe, the Postal Service began Phase 1 of its “network rationalization” plan to “streamline” and make the USPS more efficient.

The streamlining plan involved cutting the hours of 13,000 small post offices, closing hundreds of other post offices and consolidating 150 mail processing plants.

Anyone who had made a passing grade in business school knew this wasn’t going to work. Even people who hadn’t gone to business school knew it wasn’t going to work! There’s no way you can improve service by cutting it, the people said. The network rationalization plan is not rational, they said. It flies in the face of common sense. Don’t do it!

Former postmaster general Patrick Donahoe was the perfect voice and face of the Postal Service. He was an extremely arrogant and hard-headed man. And the Postal Service was like that long before he became its leader. It is a culture of arrogance.

Ignoring the voices of reason on every side, the Postal Service began closing post offices and consolidating its mail processing plants.

The result? Chaos.

The most recent report from the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General reports what we knew would happen, the mail is being delayed all over the country. No state, no city, no town, no one is exempt. The OIG reports that mail arriving late to its intended destination has increased by 50 percent since 2014. And 2014 was a bad year as well.

Mail has been delayed at such an alarming rate that the OIG issued an urgent alert to the USPS last month recommending that it stop closing its plants until service stabilizes. Says the OIG: “The impact on customer service and employees have been considerable.”

There are some things that are so obvious that even postal management can’t ignore them. At some point in their ingenious streamlining plan they began to realize that, yes, closing mail processing plants was having a negative effect on mail delivery, it was being delayed.

In light of this startling reality, what does management do? Can you guess?

If you thought they went back to their drawing board and reevaluated their plan, you would be wrong. That’s not how they operate up there in D.C.

No, instead, they decided to lower their delivery standards! And so it was that in January of this year they eliminated overnight delivery for local first-class letters. It will now take an extra day to get there. And mail traveling longer distances will take an additional day, or two, or three, or…

But as the Washington Post reported in August, the USPS is now struggling to even meet its own lower standards! What will they do now, lower their delivery standards even further?

But there is hope. Even though management has turned a blind eye and deaf ear toward its employees and the American public, members of Congress—to their credit—have not. They are listening to you, their constituents.

Last year Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) started a campaign called “Fix My Mail” after hundreds of her constituents wrote or called her complaining of late deliveries, non-existent deliveries, mistakes with mail forwarding and shortened hours at their local post offices. Three other senators have joined her in introducing legislation called the Rural Postal Act. The main requirement of the legislation would be that the Postal Service restore its service standards so mail reaches its destination in a timely manner.

At least one presidential candidate has weighed in on the issue. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says that the Postal Service has caused “a disaster that is negatively impacting Americans all over the country.”

In a letter to PMG Megan Brennan he wrote: “I have heard from people all over the country who have reported serious delays in receiving life-saving prescription drugs, and the bills they need to pay to keep the lights and electricity on in their homes.

This delay means that some of the most vulnerable people in the country are going without the medications they need, or they are being forced to travel long distances because they cannot rely on the timely delivery of mail.”

Unlike in 2006, today’s representatives in Washington are listening to their constituents. Call and write and make your voice heard. And ask your customers to do the same.

(photo credit: newson6.com)

NALC: New Postal Reform Bills Being Considered This Week In Congress

NALC Legislative Dept.Call_Congress

When your congressional representatives return to Washington this week after their Memorial Day recess, key lawmakers will have their sights set on postal reform legislation. In fact, postal bills are being drafted in both chambers right now, so we could be mere weeks away from seeing officially introduced legislation starting to move.

With Congress beginning to turn its attention to the Postal Service, we need every single NALC member to make sure any postal bills under consideration preserve and strengthen our delivery networks, our services and our jobs.

You can start right now: Tell your members of Congress—in the House and in the Senate—that any postal legislation that calls for service cuts (such as proposing postal holidays, eliminating mail delivery on Saturdays or eliminating door-to-door delivery) is unacceptable. And ask your congressional representatives to pass that message along to their colleagues—Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Tom Carper (D-DE)—who are drafting postal legislation and who need to hear our message.

Letter Carriers’ 23rd Annual Food Drive This Saturday!

The NALC will conduct its 23rd annual food drive this Saturday, May 9. Letter carriers will collect non-perishable food donations on that day as they deliver mail along their postal routes.

It is the nation’s largest single-day food drive, and is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Hunger affects about 49 million people around the country, including millions of children and senior citizens. And one in four households with a member currently serving in the U.S. military turns to a food bank for food assistance.

This Saturday, May 9, as we deliver mail, the nation’s 175,000 city letter carriers will collect donations left by residents near their mail boxes. We will be joined by retired letter carriers, by family members and friends, and by countless volunteers to help collect and distribute the sacks of non-perishable food items that get left next to generous customers’ mailboxes that morning.

Last year’s drive resulted in the collection of nearly 73 million pounds of non-perishable food left by customers’ mailboxes. Thanks to that generosity, since the national drive began in 1992 letter carriers have picked up and delivered to local food banks more than 1.3 billion pounds of food.

The drive’s national sponsors are the U.S. Postal Service, Feeding America, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, AFL-CIO, United Way Worldwide, Valpak and Valassis.

You can help spread word about this Saturday’s drive by sharing this Facebook post on your own Facebook page, and by retweeting this tweet on your Twitter account.

And be sure to “like” the official Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Facebook page and follow the drive’s official Twitter account. Challenge your friends and followers to do the same!

Visit nalc.org/food for more information.

House Fails to Pass Vindictive Bill Targeting Federal Employees

House of Representatives Logo

NALC Legislative and Political Affairs Dept.

On Wednesday, as expected, the House of Representatives took up H.R. 1563 for consideration under a procedure called “suspension of the rules,” which required a two-thirds majority of the House for passage.

The bill did manage to get a simple majority of 266-160. But since it needed 18 more votes to get to that two-thirds goal, it failed to pass.

Thank you for taking the time to contact your representative about this needless and vindictive measure.

Click here to read more about it in The Hill.

NALC: Call Your Congressional Representative and Urge Them to Oppose H.R. 1563!

Call_Congress

NALC Legislative Dept.

Letter Carriers and Other Federal Workers:

Today (Wednesday), the House will consider the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1563), which would force federal workers to provide, under threat of retaliation, their personal tax records—in direct violation of their right to keep their personal tax records private. The bill also would require the federal government to terminate the employment of any federal worker who has a delinquent tax debt.

H.R. 1563 is unnecessary, punitive, and harmful to employee morale. What would be more prudent would be to allow that worker to continue on the job, allowing him or her the opportunity to pay back what he or she owes.

Besides, federal agencies, as well as the Internal Revenue Service, already have the legal authority they need to do what they must in situations where a federal worker owes back taxes, such as garnishing a portion of the worker’s wages. The IRS has stated that it has had no trouble doing this.

And in any case, the tax delinquency rate for federal employees is less than half that of the general public; last year, that rate was a mere 3.12 percent.

Any new law intended to address tax debt delinquency should be crafted to encourage and allow the worker to repay the debt without the fear of termination. H.R. 1563, as written, does not accomplish this.

We encourage you to call your congressional representative and urge them to oppose H.R. 1563.