Yesterday evening [08-01-2013], minutes before the gavel dropped for the summer congressional recess, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Committee Republican Tom Coburn introduced S. 1486, the Postal Reform Act of 2013. The legislation differs from H.R. 2748, the bill introduced by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA); also, the measure departs from last year’s Senate-passed consensus postal bill, S. 1789.
A major NAPUS concern in S. 1486 is a provision that would permit the Postal Service to abandon the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for future employees. In addition, the legislation would authorize each union to negotiate separately with the Postal Service over a postal-only health plan; S. 1789 would have authorized the creation of a postal-only plan only with the unanimous consent of the four major postal unions. Under S. 1486, Postmasters and other supervisory employees have the option of participating in the postal heath plan or continuing to participate in the FEHBP. In addition, S. 1486 would create a Medicare supplemental plan within the FEHBP, open only to postal annuitants who are enrolled Medicare Part A and Part B; it does not appear to be mandatory.
An additional NAPUS concern is that a number of post office protection provisions that were included in S. 1789 are excluded from S. 1486, including granting the Postal Regulatory Commission binding authority relating to closure appeals and the establishment of retail postal standards.
Other noteworthy provisions:
- Refund of the retirement surplus to the Postal Service
- Re-amortize retiree health payments
- Two-year moratorium on the closing and consolidation of postal processing or distribution facility
- Additional criteria that the Postal Service must consider prior to discontinuing a post office
- One-year moratorium on moving to five-day delivery
- Curbside or centralized delivery for all new addresses, convert all business deliveries to curbside or centralized, and solicit voluntary conversion for residential door deliveries
- Provide the Postal Service with greater product and price flexibility
- Appoint Secretary of Treasury to the Board of Governors and reduces the size of the Board by two seats
- An Advisory Commission on Postal Solvency and Innovation, and a Chief Innovation Officer
- Directs the Postal Service to report on plans to reduce the number area and district offices
- Reform the federal workers’ compensation system
NAPUS will continue to analyze the provisions in S. 1486, and, at our upcoming national convention and during the congressional recess, we will be working with our Senate allies to promote those issues which reflect the strongly held views of Postmasters to enact constructive postal reform.