“It’s time to say enough,” said Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-13) as he spoke at a rally with postal workers as the USPS is considering various cost-cutting proposals. Representative Grimm wants to save a processing facility in his district and cited the facility’s excellent performance rate, service to the community, and impact on other local businesses.
While Representative Grimm may have a self-interest in the 90 jobs that would be affected, it poses a few other questions.
1. Is this the only group of employees that face job eliminations ?
2. Does the government have any responsibility to retrain these workers for new careers ? After all, many of these workers have engaged in public service work for years and their skills may not be easily transferable to other occupations.
Pondering the first question, promotes another … did Mr. Grimm speak up when the New York City Department of Education identified potential layoffs, totaling 4,675 teachers … 6 percent of the active teachers in the system that would spare virtually no academic subject or neighborhood ?
Congress will soon have the opportunity to decide the fate of more than 90 Post Office employees in Representative Grimm’s district …. But that‘s not all as the Postmaster General is considering layoff notices be sent to more than 30 percent of staff – roughly 220,000 workers … and potential closing of nearly 3700 facilities.
Now, 220,000 is a lot of Americans … a lot of families … a lot of careers. And the Post Office has already made some reductions in personnel … for example, consider the staffing levels for Clerks … in FY2005 there were 221,644 and by FY2009, there were 157,168 … a reduction of 64,476 workers.
But how does that compare to teachers ?
Just this summer, 85,000 school personnel received pink slips, bringing the total of education workers losing their jobs since September 2008 to 290,000.
President Obama in his American Jobs Act is proposing investing $30 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more and keeping cops and firefighters on the job. These funds would help states and localities avoid and reverse layoffs now, requiring that funds be drawn down quickly.
Let’s be honest … teachers are not being laid off due to student population decreases but instead due to state revenue concerns (although that could be affected by increased taxes instead of cuts.)
The same can not be said for the post office … the volume at the post office has changed. The biggest volume in pieces of mail handled by the Postal Service in its 236-year history was in 2006. The second and third busiest years were in 2005 and 2007, respectively
TRUTH-OUT has a great commentary on the real cause of the Post Office’s real financial problems (Hat Tip to the PENIGMA website ).
When Wall Street’s derivatives gamble blew up the country, businesses slowed their operations during the recession and, as such, the Postal Service was no longer handling historically high volumes of mail.
At the same time, the USPS was bleeding money by overpaying into worker pension funds. An audit done by the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General came up with the figure of $75 billion in pension overpayments.
In 2006 when [Congress] passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA), mandated that the Postal Service would have to fully fund retiree health benefits for future retirees.
“It’s almost hard to comprehend what they’re talking about, but basically they said that the Postal Service would have to fully fund future retirees’ health benefits for the next 75 years and they would have to do it within a ten-year window,” says Chuck Zlatkin, political director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union.
As previously noted the financial problems facing the postal system can be solved by enacting H.R.1351 – United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011 which has 202 co-sponsors including many Republicans like Representative Grimm … interestingly, all the Democrat Members of the Minnesota delegation but none of the Republican Members support HR 1351. The simple fix means that the federal government cannot require the Post Office to overfund their costs, just so Congress can WASTE OUR MONIES on other programs.
HR 1351 is being held up in committee as the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reforms has another bill that he authored … one that has the backing of only one co-sponsor but is supported by
The Tea Party.
The bill has some interesting new revenue ideas …. for example, did you know that under current law, the Postal Service cannot make money from selling advertisements, but the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act allows USPS to sell advertising space on vehicles and facilities … think-about-it, that familiar postal red/white/blue postal truck will look like a NASCAR vehicle.
And as if Congress doesn’t WASTE enough of OUR TAXDOLLARS on their own self-promotion … you are paying for a Congressional website to campaign for HR 2309 … but no mention of HR 1351.
To the second question, retaining for future careers …. Well, Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA-25) believes that it is constitutional as per Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which states “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;” and as such has authored H.R. 2295 – Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2011 …. sadly, this legislation has languished in John Kline (R-MN-02) Education and Workforce Committee.
Once again, President Obama Americans Job Act should push Mr. Kline to consider legislation that features “Bridge to Work” Programs and a Pathways Back to Work Fund … Congressman George Miller (D-CA-07), the Ranking Minority Member on Mr. Kline’s committee, has already requested hearings be scheduled, writing “The American people share the President’s sense of urgency that Congress must act together and act quickly to create jobs It is well past time for this Congress to refocus on jobs and take action to grow and strengthen America’s middle class. The President’s plan deserves to be heard. Our Committee should schedule hearings on his proposals as soon as possible.”
Republican Congressman Grimm is right – “It’s time to say enough” … as is Congressman Miller – It is well past time for this Congress to refocus on jobs and take action to grow and strengthen America’s middle class. …. it’s time for Congress to get to work.