APWU: Postal Reform Act of 2017 Moves Forward

APWU News – 03/20/2017  On March 16, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “marked-up” and approved the Postal Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756). A mark-up is a formal process where a congressional committee can consider and amend a bill before advancing it to the full House of Representatives or Senate.

Recognizing the need to set the Postal Service on sound financial footing, the APWU supported H.R. 756 advancing through committee. The favorable vote to move the bill out of the Oversight Committee is one of several key steps in a lengthy legislative process.

Since the passage of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), the Postal Service has been dragged down by the weight of the pre-funding mandate and has struggled financially to keep its head above water.  “This bill takes us to higher ground,” stated Rep. Cummings, as the key components of H.R.756 ensure the long and short-term financial viability of the Postal Service.

As previously reported, the bill largely solves the disastrous pre-funding mandate while at the same time treating our retirees fairly. The bill would also allow the Postal Service to modestly raise postage rates immediately, generating roughly an additional one-billion dollars in annual revenue.

Revisions

Several revisions to the bill were considered in last Thursday’s mark-up, addressing some of APWU’s concerns.

After H.R. 756 was introduced in January, President Dimondstein and APWU’s Legislative Department requested clarifying language to ensure that prescription drug benefit coverage under FEHB would not decrease through Medicare integration. A manager’s amendment (a change to the bill by its sponsor) was offered by Chairman Jason Chaffetz to address this concern. The manager’s amendment was adopted by the Committee.

Another concern the APWU voiced with lawmakers is the unintended consequence of certain postal annuitants who could not benefit from Medicare Part B. On this issue, Chairman Chaffetz and Rep. Lynch engaged in an exchange to clarify the bill’s intent. They recognized APWU’s concern and stated unequivocally that this is not the bill’s intent. They committed to further investigate and consider any necessary revisions going forward to address this. A bill is always a work in progress until signed by the U.S. President.

The Committee also adopted an amendment by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) requiring the Postal Service to give members of Congress advanced notice if a postal facility in their district would be subject to closure, consolidation or a reduction in service. As we have seen in past efforts to shutter post offices and mail processing facilities, members of Congress can be key allies in rallying community support in the fight against such counterproductive cuts. Any move to get lawmakers more engaged in the discussion sooner, as this amendment would, is a positive development.

There are key legislative steps still before H.R. 756, including consideration before the full House of Representatives, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the full Senate.

Rep. Lynch, an original co-sponsor of the bill, contrasted H.R. 756 to negative postal reform bills of the past, “I’ve seen the steady menu of bills that varied from the mean-spirited to the draconian, that never saw the chance of getting to the floor.” He further expressed his hope that this bipartisan compromise effort would move through the House.

The APWU supports H.R. 756 advancing through the legislative process and will continue to provide updates and work with lawmakers and allies to ensure a robust future for America’s public Postal Service.

H.R. 760

The Postal Service Financial Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 760), introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), was marked up and sent out of committee on March 16th as well.

The bill is intended to be companion legislation to H.R. 756. If passed, it would require the Department of Treasury to invest between 25-30% of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (PSRHBF).

Under current law, the PSRHBF is only invested in Treasury Bonds with very low-yielding returns. Medical inflation rises much faster than Treasury Bonds which results in projected unfunded liabilities. If the PSRHBF could be invested in higher yielding funds, like those used for the Thrift Savings Plan, it would produce returns that would help keep up with medical inflation at a much faster pace. This frees up postal funds that could be directed to improve service and strengthen infrastructure.

6 Responses to "APWU: Postal Reform Act of 2017 Moves Forward"

  1. Retired Potal Worker   March 21, 2017 at 10:44 am

    How can any sane person except an idiot or politician say that this bill treats retirees fairly.
    How is forcing them into Medicare Part B and making them pay for such enrollment if
    they want to continue to keep their FEHB coverage as promised they could at time of
    retirement, whether they want it or not, and making them pay over $1600 yearly ifn single or over $3200 yearly if married and spouse also over 65.
    No other federal entity forces this on their retirees. Why not grandfather those retired and
    make this the new norm for future retirees, as has been past practice for the federal government.
    Why, because they can and our “elected” so called representatives and “elected” union
    leaders, (use this term very loosely). don’t give a damn about the retiree.
    They appear to care only about so called active members not retired members as in the union’s case.And politicians, well it depends on whichever party in charge and agenda they push.

    So how is it fair to the retiree to make them pay more for something they all ready have
    but to keep you force them to pay more while others under FEHB, “””don’t”””???????

  2. Jeff   March 21, 2017 at 11:57 am

    How is raising/breaking promises retiree health care costs a minimum of $130/month, treating them fairly ?

    Postal unions aren’t much better than mgmt. anymore.

    Thanks for the knife in the back.

  3. Andrew   March 21, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Y’ALL just figuring out about true union intentions (line our pockets f. those union worker bees)got out 3 yrs ago.but you keep funded these sobs!.Oyeah don’t forget about the arbitration negotiated grand prize .negated by higher dues and health ins. premiums .carriers next.1.2 1.3 1.2 ,retire in the fall cant wait.

  4. Postal Joe   March 21, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    APWU’s president Dimonstein deciding for all the membership (including retirees) whether or not this reform bill is good for it’s members? What a scary thought, is this guy some kind of a healthcare insurance expert? He was quoted as saying he didn’t even think H.R.756 was a real bill? He went on to say that the Postal insurance rates for our new stand alone healthcare plan would be cheaper mainly because “Postal employees are healthier than the rest of the Federal employee workforce”! What?? All the experts have said the opposite and that our rates would definitely be higher than the FEHB plans we now have! The expert went on to say that after the Postal employees are taken out of the FEHB plans that the rates for the rest of the federal employees (left in the existing plans) would be going down!!! This guy has no business deciding what’s good for the membership because frankly HE’S IN OVER HIS HEAD WHEN IT COMES TO THIS DECISION!!! Chairman Chaffetz is going to tell Dimondstein exactly what he wants to hear to sell his plan to get him to play along with the bill’s passage then do whatever he wants!! I guess this guy has never dealt with a “used car salesman” before (basically the same sales tactic)!!

    Again Postal Joe – you hit the nail right on the head. OSHA stats clearly prove that the VAST majority of injuries and illnesses within government employment show that USPS employees are at the top of that list. Just in the third quarter of 2009 OSHA records show:

    – Total Federal Government Employees (Includes Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches & U.S. Postal Service) – 2,881,112 – Total Illnesses/injuries: 102,821

    – Of these 102,821 cases 40,448 were USPS employees and 62,373 for the remainder of the federal employees. That means that about 39.5% of the injuries/illnesses were postal employees. That represents a LARGE portion of federal employees. This is clearly because working for USPS can take a toll on ones health – insurance companies KNOW THIS – they read these statistics and base their costs upon them. So, forcing postal employees into a separate group will NOT work well for the cost and coverage that we will receive from the insurance carriers.

    Read it yourself: https://www.osha.gov/dep/fap/statistics/fedprgms_stats11_final.html

    Rick Owens – PEN

  5. Andrew   March 22, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    just pay the man your dues,and well you know………..

  6. Postal Joe   March 23, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    I just wanted to add something to my previous post regarding APWU Dimondstein…I kind of remember a campaign APWU had a couple of years ago in which the APWU was making a big deal with the Headline saying that the Postal service’s “FINANCIAL CRISIS WAS A HOAX”?? and yes I totally agreed with this campaign and what it was saying!!!!! I have a few questions for Dimondstein…..1. Does he still think the “financial crisis is a hoax”? (either it is or it isn’t) 2. If he still thinks it’s a “hoax” then why does he think the APWU needs to back this Medicare Mandate if there isn’t a financial crisis?? Something changed his mind about the situation?? Dimondstein needs to go back to his original “HOAX” theory and fight to end the prefunding, and to tell Chairman Chaffetz that the APWU is NOT endorsing the Postal Reform Bill and to leave the retirees FEHB (the one we have now) alone!!

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