APWU: The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 Is A Positive Step Forward

APWU News – 02/07/2017  On Feb. 7, a hearing was held before the full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756). The legislation, introduced on Jan. 31, is sponsored by the Oversight Committee’s Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) as well as Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA). H.R.756 is very similar, but an improved version, to the postal reform legislation passed out of the committee in May 2016.

The bill addresses two serious key issues of concern: the pre-funding mandate and increasing postage revenue. Judging by the criteria that this bill will move the Postal Service towards solid financial footing, and should not place any undue burden on active members and retirees, the APWU joins its sister postal unions in encouraging the adoption of H.R. 756.

“This legislation is a necessary step to solving the disastrous pre-funding mandate that is dragging down the Postal Service,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Postal reform has been a great concern to postal workers, the four postal unions, the USPS, commercial mailers and the American people for a long time. We are encouraged by the bipartisan effort to fix the financial problems currently facing the USPS while preserving good union jobs and public postal services.” 

Medicare Integration’

H.R. 756 addresses the pre-funding mandate through “Medicare integration” within the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB). It would enroll Medicare-eligible postal workers in Medicare Parts A, B and D. At this time, approximately 80 percent of Medicare-eligible postal workers and retirees are voluntarily enrolled into Medicare A and B. Many APWU members say that having a FEHB plan and Medicare saves them money in the long run. In addition to expanding Medicare’s role as a primary payer, FEHB plans would be given access to discounted prescription drugs through an Employer Group Waiver Plan with Medicare Part D.

The bill achieves the following goals of the union:

  • The program remains part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program;
  • Medicare integration is part of the comprehensive reform bill, not a stand-alone measure;
  • Enrollment in Medicare Part D results in no additional costs to employees and retirees;
  • The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act’s (PAEA) required payments to pre-fund future postal retiree health care will be virtually eliminated by Medicare integration because it will create a huge reduction in the current unfunded liability costs.

Whether or not they enrolled, postal employees have long subsidized Medicare, paying over $30 billion in Medicare taxes since 1983. Postal employees, retirees and the Postal Service can realize the benefit of those contributions through Medicare integration. The APWU believes, although not perfect, this bill provides a workable route to achieve a robust future for America’s Postal Service.

Postal Rate Increases

The bill restores and makes permanent half of the exigent rate increase (postal rate increase) which expired in April 2016. This would result in increased postal revenue of approximately $1 billion annually. The APWU firmly supports a responsible rate increase to adequately cover costs and support the postal network.

Legislation in House Committee

During the hearing, National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando testified on behalf of the four postal unions (the APWU, with the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and Nation Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, contributed with full input to the offered testimony).

“Since 2012, [the USPS] has not been able to make the payments [for the pre-funding mandate] at all – though the expenses associated with the missed payments have continued to be recognized, driving the misleading impression that the Postal Service is failing operationally,” Rolando said. “All four postal unions urge the Committee to adopt this legislation as quickly as possible. We pledge to work with all of you and our broad coalition of mailing industry partners to make this legislation a reality.”

Also under consideration by the Oversight Committee is a postal companion bill (H.R. 760), introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch, allowing the Postal Service to invest retiree health funds. Investing a portion of the tens of billions of dollars in the Postal Service Retirement Health Benefits Fund in a Thrift Savings Plan-like vehicle can help the fund keep pace with growing health care costs.

Within the next few weeks, H.R. 756 is expected to be “marked up in committee,” where the bill can be amended and advanced to the full House of Representatives. As the legislation continues to be revised and works its way through Congress, the APWU will stay engaged in the process with lawmakers and staff to improve the bill every step of the way. As Congressman Connolly remarked at today’s postal hearing, “Until a bill has passed and been sent to the president for signature, it’s always a work in progress.”

“In these uncertain times and contentious political climate, we are heartened by the bipartisan support behind responsible postal reform,” said Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard.

The APWU continues discussions with congressional representatives on improvements to the bill. By doing so, we continue to keep the door open to possible allies and are growing bipartisan support for comprehensive postal reform. Stay informed about the progress of H.R. 756! Sign up for legislative updates and check the Legislative & Political Department’s webpage regularly.

11 Responses to "APWU: The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 Is A Positive Step Forward"

  1. Woody   February 8, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Of course the unions are all for this proposed bill. What they’re not mentioning in all of this is the shiny brass ring they’re really after – the financial windfalls headed their way once this passes. The unions all have a vested interest in this from the kickbacks they receive from the insurance companies. This will not end well for the employees.

    Whatever they conspire to give with left hand you can rest assured it will be more than made up for by what they take with the right hand and the employees will come away with less after this deal is done.

    The heads of these postal unions should be on the chopping block. They are selling the membership down the river.

  2. Disgusted Retiree   February 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Another idiot postal prez says its a good thing to screw over postal retirees by forcing them into Medicare Pat B and forcing to hem to pay extra that non retirees don’t have to pay to continue coverage under FEHBP. How does that equate to looking out for all members of whatever postal union you belong to if you don’t take care of retired members??
    And he also states that he hears (shades of Trump alternative facts) from many members that they save money in the long run. My question to the rocket scientist prez(s)
    of the postal unions, “is how do you save money when you have to pay currently $134 per
    individual, which is most cases are both usually you and your spouse, or $268 [per month for Medicare Part B), as an extra expense every month for as long as you live or partiipate
    in health care under FEHBP .I don’t know of to many retirees that can really afford this so called extra benefit being put on our backs to us by Congress and the so called union heads
    Your fuzzy math is worthy of crap we hear from our so called elected political officials we
    have at federal, state and local level.
    How it will not create an undue burden on only current retirees who will be forced to pay extra that active members will not be required to currently pay for is beyond me.
    Have you dummies at the top of our so called unions and in the brainless halls of congress
    ever heard of grandfathering to protect those all ready retired and now it looks like we will be screwed by those who are supposed to look out for us. If you make changes then do so from a current date on, let them know what to expect and to prepare for it. Don’t surprise them.
    Personally I think that all the union prezs should get ke a 50% pay cut and pay for your own health and life insurance. You don’t do enough to warrant even that much for all the good that you don’t do.

  3. All Your TSP Belong To Us !   February 8, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    What a bunch of bs.

    Looks like some payoffs happening with the union bosses.

    We worked for decades with promises of benefits at the end.

    Thanks for selling us down the river ya crooks !

  4. Postal Joe   February 8, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    Wow, I get a kick out of their reason for going along with the Reform…”many member say that having FEHB and Medicare saves them money in the long run!” what a bunch of idiots…if this goes through YOU WON’T BE IN FEHB ANYMORE! HOW CAN YOU COMPARE AND SAY WE’LL SAVE MONEY!!! The new plan will be part of a new “risk pool” and will definitely be more expensive and your drug plan will be part of medicare part D with a huge deductible!! How long has it been since we heard the promise of “Lower costs with more choices and the biggest lie of all…”YOU CAN KEEP YOUR OWN DOCTOR!” It’s only been about 5 years since Obamacare and yet these NITWITS believe everything they hear all over again!!! President Dimonstein I thought you had more common sense than that and YOU’VE REALLY LET US DOWN THIS TIME!!!!

  5. Smithers   February 9, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Probably 30% of postal retirees/employees voted for Republicans. You reap what you sow.

    The Unions looked at their declining membership ranks and collaborated to strike while the iron was hot. They can blame it on the current political environment and get a much larger revenue stream in return.

    100% disgusted by these traitors taking the easy way out by thowing us under the bus instead of fighting the good fight.

    Smithers – both republicans and democrats gave birth to this bill – but, the majority of its’ supporters are democrats…that would be all 4 postal unions and the vast majority of large mailers. Rick Owens – PEN

  6. Postal Joe   February 9, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I just wanted to add another comment to my first post. I think the “House Oversight” committee can’t make up it’s mind on this Postal reform and healthcare for retirees mainly because less than 4 years ago this same committee proposed a bill entitled “H.R. 3319” called the “Equal Healthcare Access Act” which basically would have opened the “FEHB” or Federal employee healthcare benefit program to everyone!!! I’m not kidding, look it up!!!! So less than 4 years ago (Oct. 2013) they were going to give the public (regardless of Government employment) access to the same benefits we have today! Now, here we are less than 4 years later and the same “House Oversight” committee wants to take away those same benefits from Postal employees who worked 30 + years to earn!!! That proposal H.R.3319 had nothing to do with any Postal Budget Crisis and yet they were going to give those benefits basically away for free to anyone who wanted them!!! It sounds like this whole thing is a “BOONDOGGLE” on their part!!!!!

  7. smithers   February 10, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Rick Owens,

    Do not overlook the fact that it is the republicans who control the House of Representatives and not the democrats.The republicans are the party who’ve introduced this harmful legislation just like they were the party responsible for the PAEA that caused the Postal Service all of this trouble in the first place.

    Whatever democratic support there may be is due to the Unions telling them it’s a good deal because they want a bigger slice of that insurance pie.

    H.R. 756, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 – Bill cosponsors Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) – fully supported by the 4 unions and management associations…all, of which, are democrats. Additionally, PAEA was also ‘passed’ by both parties. If the democrats did not support this bill, H.R. 756, then they would certainly say so in the national news…I have seen no such news. EACH party is just as responsible as the other in this case.

  8. Woody   February 11, 2017 at 1:09 am

    Rick,

    Why.the false equivalency? Look, if you support the Republicans that’s fine but let’s not kid ourselves here. The fact of the matter is the Republicans are the party continually trying to reduce the benefits of Postal/Federal employees. Democrats are not the party that introduced either of those pieces of legislation but they certainly have to try and limit the damage as best they can.

    I’m recently retired CSRS and throughout my whole career I can’t ever remember even one instance of a Republican trying to add anything to our benefits package. If you can, I’d be more than happy to hear about it. Please, enlighten me.

    Hi Woody – thanks for your post. H.R. 756 clearly states that it is a bipartisan bill – democrats and republicans formed and are pushing this bill. Why would we give either party a break here…both are responsible. Just like P.A.E.A – PAEA was introduced by a republican but passed by both democrats and republicans in the house and senate. In my opinion, PAEA has been the BIGGEST problem in the history of the postal service. Even those who passed this bill did not want their names publically attached. If PAEA had been thrown out by republicans AND democrats there would be no H.R. 756.

    PAEA – Passed House
    The bill was passed in a vote in the House. The vote was by voice vote so no record of individual votes was made.

    PAEA Passed Senate
    The bill was passed by both chambers in identical form. The vote was by Unanimous Consent so no record of individual votes was made.

    Read here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr6407

  9. Woody   February 11, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    PAEA was passed by a Republican House, and Senate in a lame duck session of Congress and signed into law by George W Bush in 2006. There wasn’t anything the Democrats could do about it because they wouldn’t take control of the House and Senate until January 2007.

    The APWU was against it and the NALC was for it. Why?

    As for H.R. 756, again. just like in 2006, this is being introduced to a Republican controlled Congress with a Republican President.The Dems know they are powerless to do anything to stop whatever the Republicans want. They are listening to the Union Presidents who are telling them it’s a great deal and to support it so why wouldn’t they? They can look like they’re willing to reach across the aisle and work to get things done.

    Again, as I stated in my previous post –

    “…… I can’t ever remember even one instance of a Republican trying to add anything to our benefits package. If you can, I’d be more than happy to hear about it. Please, enlighten me.”

    I ‘ll continue to await your response but I sincerely doubt you will be able to find an example.

    Woody – appreciate your postings. I do not have to defend republicans or democrats – that is not my job. But, I can tell you this…if I were, I repeat, IF I were a republican legislator I would not fight for unions or union supporters either since neither support the conservative values or republicans. BUT – I am NOT a republican as I stated – I am an independent.

    I feel certain there are many things republicans did to fight for government employees and benefits in past years but, as I said, it is not my job to defend them – and besides I’m through with this conversation. I appreciate your posts.

  10. Woody   February 11, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Bottom line, no matter how you slice it and dice it, postal employees and retirees are going to get screwed over and out of access to current FEHB plans. They’re going to come up with a turd and promise us that it’s steak.

  11. Postal Joe   February 12, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Rick Owens, It I think you’ve made your point on the Bipartisan nature of the bill, but there is another side to the story and it has to do with the sponsor of the bill, former Rep Tom Davis republican from VA. The original bill had NO prefunding retirement provision in it!! During an interview, Davis said “Somewhat ironically, the bill was intended to help the Postal Service be more competitive for the future, he said. But late in the game , the Bush White House threatened to veto it unless Congress added the future-funding-for retirees provision. Congress went along because at the time it seemed like it was a better option than having the entire bill defeated. That was the cost of getting the bill through, Davis said. The Bush administration used the revenue it gained to help balance the budget!”
    This interview can be found by looking up “21cpw the most insane law by congress” Rick Owens is correct in saying the bill was bipartisan but the threat of Bush’s veto kind of plays into it also!! (Just another point of view!)