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  • With Pensions Threatened, Postal Workers Union Goes on Offense

    The Postmaster General is warning that a postal budget crisis could cause mail delivery to be consolidated to just three days a week. Meanwhile, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is trying to convince lawmakers—and taxpayers—to keep all its union jobs.

    The APWU’s new radio ad airing in Washington, D.C., says the pounds of mail handled by workers don’t cost you “a single cent.”

    “The United States Postal Service doesn’t run on your tax dollars. It’s funded solely by stamps and postage,” the 30-second ad says. That’s technically true (unless you count the legally enforced monopoly on first-class mail as a subsidy). Unless some real reforms are made in how the USPS operates, however, that will change. The USPS owes $5.5 billion—due September 30—to future retirees’ health benefits, which the Postmaster General says it can’t pay. Its continuous hemorrhaging of money is creating the looming specter of a postal bailout.

    According to the APWU, the ad is a direct response to Representative Darrell Issa’s (R–CA) proposal to allow USPS to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. Issa’s plan goes much further than that—he proposed ending the ban on closing unprofitable post offices and aligning compensation more closely with the private sector. He also proposed changing collective bargaining and requiring workers to pay more toward their health and life insurance—reforms that no doubt got the union’s attention.

    The Postal Service employs three times as many union members as the U.S. auto industry, and, like the auto industry, employee benefit costs are crushing it. Just last month, the Postal Service had to suspend contributions to employee pensions because the agency is already drowning in red ink. Postal employees also earn 15 percent to 20 percent more per hour than comparable workers in the private sector.

    The APWU ad will run for three weeks on “news and/or talk stations in Washington DC and other markets,” the union says. The campaign includes TV advertising on cable news channels and print ads in Capitol Hill–centered publications.

    APWU president Cliff Guffey said, “The campaign is designed to inform the American people about the work our members perform and to dispel the persistent myth that the Postal Service is funded by taxpayers.”

    If drastic changes are not made, this myth could quickly become reality.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    36 Responses to With Pensions Threatened, Postal Workers Union Goes on Offense

    1. Moman says:

      if this were a "public" company, changes would be made or the doors closed. if mail is delivered 3 days a week, so be it. most of what i receive by the USPS goes straight into the trash. logic and common sense should prevail..

      • Liz says:

        It is nice to see that there are still some sane people in this country. I truly think that we could get rid of the postal service as we know it, if people would just help each other out. A few people to sort mail and put it in the po boxes each day. If neighbors could band together and each person pick a day of hte week to pick up the mail for the neighborhood it would cut costs immensely.

    2. Bobbie says:

      I support the postal workers 100%. Union? NOT!

      Where unions are shown to be more useless than productive and cause more trouble then efficiency, remove!!
      Nothing but an extra waste of money who's only use is their big mouths to tell half truths to further their gain through their instinctive corruption!!

    3. cejkn says:

      I think the post office should be made into a private company.

    4. Collegeteapartier says:

      I think we could all survive with only three days mail, I mean think about it….if you have to send something important and need it there quick who do you send it with? Not the USPS, most likely you send it fedex, ups, etc. The USPS needs to do whatever it has to do to cut costs and get back in the black with out governement funding.

    5. Mike Jordan says:

      Privatize it NOW

    6. infidel4ever says:

      When is the federal government going to "sacrifice" as the private sector does and continues jobs decline from this BO, i.e., the despots policies and regulations! Why is Big Government immune from any cuts? I suggest we cut all their pensions and healthcare!

    7. Michael says:

      I am curious as to how you would privatize the Postal Service. Would you split it up & give it to UPS? Fed Ex? Only the Postal Service has the infrastructure and staff to deliver to every address every day. The Service labors under restrictions that private companies do not. We are not allowed to make a profit, when we do, the US congress takes it away and spends it. We are not allowed to have our own aircraft, so we have to pay Fed Ex to fly the mail, and they make a good profit from that. Congress requires that we PRE-FUND retirement health care-the only agency that has to do that. That requirement alone ensures we operate in the red nearly every year. As you can tell, I work for the Service. I am an electronics technician, and service the sorting machines. I make about 62K gross/ year. That is 20K/ year less than I made when I worked for Intel in a similar job function. Is there waste at the Post Office? Heck yes. I have a non-technical supervisor, who makes at least 10k/ year more than I do, that "supervises" 4 to 5 ET's. There are too many bosses and no incentive to reduce their numbers. The workforce has declined by 20% in the past 2.5 years, but we still have the same number of supervisors and managers. Many of my co-workers are vets, as am I. Why do you want to cut our families' health care and my pension? We have to pay for part of our health care, and we have co-pays & everything, just like private industry. BTW, the PMG has already stopped contributions to our pensions. Am I in the union? Yeah. Am I happy about that? No. The only winners in the last contract were the upper layers of union management.
      I look forward to reading your comments.

      • Carl says:

        EXCELLENT post. I too work for USPS. I am an MPE assigned to keep our four FSS machines running in Jersey City, NJ. Although some people work quite hard, others rely on seniority to avoid doing anything, and their workload has to be picked up by others like me. This became obvious recently, which is why I am currently multi-rated to ET level pay. I have only been with USPS for 7 years, and I still can't believe how many people are paid so much for no reason other than the fact they have been here a long time. Private industry holds people accountable for their assigned duties. APWU seems to make it okay for USPS employees to simply show up on time, hit their clock rings and "try".

      • Rich says:

        Thanks for your service. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians is always a problem. It is interesting to note that the Postal Service has allowed its monopolistic position to be continually eroded by companies that do a better, more efficiant job. UPS and Fed Ex, DHL and all the smaller private courriers all compete for the same postal delivery. It would seem, given the vast resources of the post office, that its service would be best equipped to compete and win the mail and parcel business. All that needs to happen is to get the government and union folks out of the way, and allow the business to operate free from interference. It probably means closing some post offices, and that may mean allowing the post office to get its own planes – something you mentioned that the rules do not allow you to now.

      • Rich says:

        As for pre-funding, I would consider that a hidden blessing. By making sure the money is in there now, there is far less chance that your benefits will be linked to somone else paying for them in the future. This does two things: it does not saddle the post office with "legacy costs" that will threaten its productivity in the future, hurting future generations of service workers, AND it is most likely to insure that your full pension will be available to you. Look at the mess the GM retirees are in. The taxpayers are still 19 Billion in the hole for that mess, and there is talk that that money may never be paid back. GM still struggles, and its doubtful we will not be at the same spot again in another decade or so, just like Chrysler. There are thousands of workers who depend on GM to pay their pensions, and without the government redistributing taxpayer money, those retirees would have lost it all as GM broke up and was sold in pieces.

        Not meant to be overly critical, and I wish you the best in the future.

        Rich

        • Errol says:

          Not trying to be unkind, but please check social security funds, remember the "lockbox"? Where is the money? If you trust the Congress to put the money, for "pre-funding" away for the future, you have WAY to much faith in the Congress. When the time comes, they will just cut benefits, like they have done before. This is just a way to use the USPS as a profit center. They (congress) has been collecting this money for over 15 years. How much money do you think they need for "prefunding"?

    8. Michael says:

      I am curious as to how you would privatize the Postal Service. Would you split it up & give it to UPS? Fed Ex? Only the Postal Service has the infrastructure and staff to deliver to every address every day. The Service labors under restrictions that private companies do not. We are not allowed to make a profit, when we do, the US congress takes it away and spends it. We are not allowed to have our own aircraft, so we have to pay Fed Ex to fly the mail, and they make a good profit from that. Congress requires that we PRE-FUND retirement health care-the only agency that has to do that. That requirement alone ensures we operate in the red nearly every year. As you can tell, I work for the Service. I am an electronics technician, and service the sorting machines. I make about 62K gross/ year. That is 20K/ year less than I made when I worked for Intel in a similar job function. Is there waste at the Post Office? Heck yes. I have a non-technical supervisor, who makes at least 10k/ year more than I do, that "supervises" 4 to 5 ET's. There are too many bosses and no incentive to reduce their numbers. The workforce has declined by 20% in the past 2.5 years, but we still have the same number of supervisors and managers. Many of my co-workers are vets, as am I. Why do you want to cut our families' health care and my pension? We have to pay for part of our health care, and we have co-pays & everything, just like private industry. BTW, the PMG has already stopped contributions to our pensions. Am I in the union? Yeah. Am I happy about that? No. The only winners in the last contract were the upper layers of union management.

    9. George Colgrove, VA says:

      It is getting painfully clear the government way-overstepped its bounds. The post office if run properly could continue as a public entity as it was. But it is a federal program run by overpaid, corrupt greedy federal workers. Everything this body of people are touching is dyeing. When the Shuttle lands today it will be DOA. THe NASA feds have killed their own agency. Federal forest lands are dyeing – because of the federal worker base. All the money in these programs no longer go to what it was intended for. With federal workers getting paid twice that of the private sector; with masses of federal workers occupying jobs that have no purpose, and with their benefits largely unfunded, these programs have very little money left over for actual work. The federal class is ending up being the highest paid welfare recipients ever! They just have to go to an office to get their check.

      It is time to privatize the USPS. Let it restructure and map out its own future without burdening the taxpayer anymore.

    10. Daver says:

      Outside of the postal workers, who rightfully have a reason to worry about their jobs, I don't understand the angst?

      Consider–3 days a week, MWF, would still provide all mail within 36 hours of when it is currently delivered and it would allow the postal "business" to run more efficiently. 99% of everything else that is shipped and has to arrive in a shorter timeframe is already sent through other means anyway. So are we against businesses being run more efficiently cause it's not what we are "used to," or because of some other reason?

      A successful and correct gov't adjustment in services would be a great first step–in becoming part of a 21st century business.

      But I would definitely oppose any plan to privatize the US Mail–because all of a sudden people in Montana would stop getting their mail in any time circumstance–and that cannot be allowed to happen.

    11. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Yet another prime example of why unions, all unions, has out lived any useful need to this society. Unions have become nothing more than political hacks for the Democrat party where every day members have no say as to where and to whom their dues are contributed.

    12. NeoConVet says:

      Once again we prove an economic business fact…. that if there is a short fall in revenue then staff reductions, benefit cuts, services reduced must occur!
      Seems that the USPS is pursuing the business model of our Congress…spend more of what is not there!?

    13. imrwg2 says:

      If this were a public company with that many union empolyees they would have already been bailed out!

    14. O_G says:

      The tv/radio ads are intended to educate the public and dispel the myth that the Postal Service is tax-payer-funded. (No, Amy, the First-Class Mail monopoly does not count as a subsidy.) Rep. Issa continues to spread false information regarding the USPS by ignoring facts at his convenience. But what did we expect from a politician who constantly violates ethical principles for personal gain? Issa allocated $1 million of taxpayers' money for projects intended to boost his own real estate property in Vista, CA. Using his political advantage for personal gain should be a matter that needs further investigation, yet, Issa rolls out false accusations attacking working people. Shame on Issa!

      How much money does USPS cost taxpayers? FACT: NOT A SINGLE CENT.

      OG

    15. FedUpMan says:

      There are 7 full fledged post offices within 5 miles of my house. I could live with 5 days of delivery. I used to work for a company that serviced computers at several large post offices. Some workers would get drunk so bad they could net even stand up in their cars during breaks or lunch and then go back into work. They were put in special rooms and never got in trouble. These are the huge sorting centers. I saw this with my own eyes, several employees did not like the drunks but told me NOTHING could be done.
      The mailman that delivers my mail is wonderful and very helpful. But many of the counter people (10% ish) by me do not impress me and are NOT happy in their job and it spill over in how they treat customers. On average they are extremely overpaid, especially management whose #'s are legion.

    16. EXUSPS says:

      I too worked for the USPS. I retired early because as a manager, I tried to change the way upper management wasted and very abusively used the WORKING people to cover for their NON productive brothers and sisters. The working persons were made to work harder to cover for those who upper management would not discipline or demote for their poor performance. I saw MANY managers pass me up on the promotions just to find a new home to get rid of them in one facility and pass them to another. I watched thousands of dollars spent and wasted on parties, dinners, entertainment, UNDESERVED monetary awards, and other wastes. My budgets were always in the black, my man hours were always kept minimum, no OT for those who wasted time to get the OT schedules, I always got productivity in my departments with proper and selected supervisors who had LEADERSHIP skills and followed direction on ensuring productivity in the department. Because of my successes I did get awarded some EXTRA work and duties added to my Dept and crews. Yes, the USPS can be privatized with contracting out much of the work. If the UNIONS were disbanded or contracts were properly administered and negotiated, the USPS could succeed. However the productivity is approximately 50% of what it should be for the wages and the tools provided to the workers to get MORE mail moved in less time with LESS persons. I have personally seen sleeping on the job, drunk and drugged on the job, stealing, fighting, work refusals, and many more serious violations of USPS and facility policies and rules. I have personally FIRED many persons for these actions, but the UNION negotiates at a higher level of arbitration and the workers come back, emboldened and EEO cases filed, so that you cannot touch these persons in any further disciplinary action. THESE are the FACTS and what financially is killing the USPS. All this costs MILLIONS per year to administer in Personnel Actions and law suits against the USPS. It is time to run the USPS like a business and put MANAGERS who have leadership and business experience in the upper levels. Put LEADERSHIP in the supervision and management to LEAD the employees through incentive and persuasion vs. constant threats and intimidation. Get productive workers by allowing those managers to clean house with the non-productive workers, OR eliminate UNION contracts so that employees who want to work can be hired and those dead beat non-productive employees can hit the unemployment lines with some real awakening to what it is like not having such a GOOD job as working for the USPS.

      • rick says:

        Amen brother

      • Metro Area Mech. says:

        Thank you! I have been in the service for 5 years. I am in maintenance. I have much more senior co-workers who barely work. When they do "fix" things, it is at a bare minimum. They maybe work an hour a day. They claim that it is better to do minimal work, so that management will not expect more of us.
        I've been told to slow down at work, I was making others look bad (typical at the post office.)
        Management has tried to discipline them for being drunk, sleeping on the job, lack of productivity….you name it. They then used their veteran status and claimed that management was "stressing" them out.
        Being a vet, I find this most shameful as vets now have a reputation for being "worthless drunks," in our facility. My department is now being constantly monitored by the head of maintenance because we had high man hours for a small output of production this past year.
        I then caught my co-worker claiming credit for work orders I worked on- that explained the high man hours. He has yet to be penalized.
        I'm thankful for the opportunities the post office gave me, but I am leaving to start another job in October.

    17. rick says:

      Amen but i am still living the dream(Nightmare)

    18. Snake says:

      If you have thousands of small Post Offices and each has a Postmaster guaranteed 40 hours at a much higher pay rate, and an upper management oversight that does not allow these Postmasters to do ANY actual managerial duties, why not get rid of all Postmasters in these offices (they are the real political hacks) and replace them with clerks who can run thye windows as they are trained to do and take direction from upper management?

      It's not the Unions dragging down the PO, its these thousands of Postmasters working as clerks, custodians, and carriers getting guaranteed 40 hours of big bucks.

      I love the ads, not the managerial mess.

    19. GENO says:

      No kidding the small offices should be closed. Rural Routes run right past the small Post Offices. If you think postal workers are living the good life you are so wrong. WORKING people of the PO do not live the good life. I would like to see all of you deliver mail in 40 below weather with your hands sticking out the window and cold air hiting your face not even the heater helps. What about the guys that walk the routes. We pay about 300 a month for health care. Our S.S. is dropped 30% because we have a retirement. Can barely make ends meet. I have seen guys come in and try to work these postal jobs and drive these routes, they can't do it. It's to hard for them.
      Get rid of the PO and see if you'll really be happy.. Fedex uses the PO to deliver their packages and so does UPS and Speedy. Watch how high your prices will go. Americas have always hated the PO and I guess they always will. If you think they make more money then the car workers or teachers you are sadly wrong. I'm talking about the working people of the post office not management.

    20. kerry says:

      When the postal service suspended FER's payments and after the 16% management reduction with a Ver now it starts to back down on using VER's except as an example for the Pacific coast. Is there some toher hidden agenda about retirements? Maybe with so many people eligible there is another hidden agenda which will be addressed with RIF notices. I AM TIRED OF THIS MISCONCEPTION ABOUT THE POSTAL SERVICE OVERPAYING 15-20 %. That may be true in some areas but certainly not in all. I have three brothers who all make between 110,000 and 300,000. No, there not PCES.

    21. william says:

      Layoff at least 1/3 of the empoloyees and cut the pay by 20% of the rest . Then make the one`s that are left pay for their insurance and their retirement like the rest of do and also pay social security and I bet you won`t see as many new shiny trucks . They can live like the rest of us and they could cash an honest paycheck , instead of hot check they get . My checks have to be good or I don`t buy a thing . But they get paid whether they have the money or not . Plus they can get rid of all of the security guards because they are SPECIAL like the social security bunch that is BROKE .

    22. Connor says:

      Other Western countries have privatized their postal systems, so there are good examples of how it can be done. Sure, the USPS operates under restrictions other companies don't have — but it also has one big advantage: no one is allowed to compete with it on first class mail. This makes no sense whatsoever. And if you think the taxpayer won't bail out postal worker pensions, you're fooling yourselves. This is, in fact, the union plan.

    23. Jack Pogue says:

      How can we effectively make changes to the dying system?
      We need to create a ground swell now that hopefully carries over into other areas of our government that reduces our burden.

    24. cash in my pension says:

      Thanks author for your nice site and great discussed to mail about Pension.
      cash in my pension

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