STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — September 27, 2001. On Tuesday afternoon members of the four employee unions of the United States Postal Service held rallies across the U.S. to “Join forces with members of our communities to send a message to the nation and its Congress.”
The union-led rallies, described as “informational” by SaveAmericasPostalService.org, were held at the offices of members of the House of Representatives.
The four U.S. Postal Service Unions driving the “Save America’s Postal Service” effort are:
• The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) – the clerks who work in local Post Offices
• National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) – the workers who deliver the mail
• National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) – the workers who sort the mail (behind the scenes)
• National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) – letter carriers working in rural areas
On Staten Island, Rep. Mike Grimm (R – CD 13), was visited by two dozen postal workers, including members of Local 300 of the NPMHU, the largest mail handlers local in the country. Grimm is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1351, a bill that would allow the release of $6.9 billion from an overfunded pension fund and put it towards this year’s congressionally mandated retiree health care benefit payment which is due September 30.
The bill, a stopgap measure, would address a $20 billion deficit.
The deficit is not the result of losses in revenue but is the product of a 2006 congressional mandate that requires the Postal Service to pre-pay its employees’ retiree health care benefits for the next 75 years. The mandate requires that this be done within ten years. The net result is that the Postal Service is facing a daunting deficit — a deficit that accounts for 100 percent of the agency’s “losses” — despite the fact that the Postal Service has accrued $611 million net profit over the past four years. The Postal Service accomplished this during the worst recession in 80 years — a recession in which housing prices have dropped more than at the worst point in the Great Depression.
The congressionally created deficit need not be a fatal blow to the Postal Service and its union employees.
In addition to an overfed pension system the Postal Service has tens of billions in earned revenue set aside as “surplus funds” — a reserve to be used in a crisis.
According to SaveAmericasPostalService.org, the Postal Service surplus funds are set aside by law and accessible only with congressional approval. These funds could be used by the USPS to meet its financial obligations.
The bottom line: with congressional assistance the U.S. Postal Service, which has not used ANY taxpayer money in 30 years, could easily remain solvent and avoid closures, job losses and privatization.