Postal Workers To Fitzpatrick: Thanks For Supporting Our Bailout

About 60 unionized US Postal Service employees gathered at the office of Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick yesterday in a rally to thank him for co-sponsoring a Democrat-led bill to bail the failing agency out.

Of course, when it comes time to pay off a union, Tea Party Mike disappears and RINO Mike is right on board.

Among the other 215 co-sponsors of the Postal Service bailout bill, introduced by far-left Massachussetts Democrat Stephen Lynch and officially entitled “United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011,” are John Conyers, Chaka Fattah, Barney Frank, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jesse Jackson Jr, Jim McDermott, Jerry Nadler, Charlie Rangel, Jan Schakowsky, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Maxine Waters and Henry Waxman.

H.R. 1351 will allow the U.S. Postal Service to use billions of dollars from an overfunded federal retirement fund and use it to pay off a $5.5 billion debt obligation.

This reminds me of all the years they “used billions of dollars from the overfunded” Social Security Trust Fund to pay for other things.  Now the Social Security Trust Fund isn’t so overfunded any more.

A 2006 law passed by Congress mandates the postal service “pre-fund” 75 years of future employee retirement benefits over 10 years — that translates to $5.5 billion annually.

The $5.5 billion is due Friday, but the Washington Post reported that a spending bill approved Monday by the Senate and likely to pass in the House this week will push the deadline to mid-November. The Washington Post also said the postal service is “set to announce up to $10 billion in losses when its fiscal year ends Friday.”

Postal workers Tuesday blamed that 2006 law for the postal service’s red ink, saying that the postal service has made a net profit of more than $600 million over the past four years.

[…]

“Congress is the one who broke this, and Congress is the one who can fix this,” said Bill Stevens, a retired postal worker who lives in Bensalem.

Unmentioned in the article are the Postal Service’s labor costs, which are way above those of its competitors and are the actual reason the Postal Service is in dire financial straits.

At the same time [as a precipitous volume decline], decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office’s costs. Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees.

The newest no-layoff clause was approved LAST MAY.  Fitzpatrick’s bailout bill does nothing to address the out of control labor costs that are destroying the US Postal Service.

Did you know the Postal Service has what are called “standby rooms,” where, because no matter how low volume gets they can’t lay anyone off, up to 15,000 workers a year spend part of their time just sitting around getting paid for doing nothing?  The cost: More than a million dollars each week.

The U.S. Postal Service, struggling with a massive deficit caused by plummeting mail volume, spends more than a million dollars each week to pay thousands of employees to sit in empty rooms and do nothing…

(T)hey sit — some for a few hours, others for entire shifts. Postal union officials estimate some 15,000 employees have spent time on standby this year. They spend their days holed up in rooms — conference rooms, break rooms, occasionally 12-foot-by-8-foot storage closets — that the Postal Service dubs “resource rooms.” Postal employees use more colorful names, like “holding pens” and “blue rooms.”

The Postal Workers union cheered Fitzpatrick’s support of their bailout because they have no intention of budging or contributing their fair share to save the Postal Service for the rest of us (see what I did there?).  Management has gone to Congress to get them to overturn the no-layoffs clause they just approved LAST MAY (where’s Fitzpatrick on that?).  How did that go over?

The post office’s powerful unions are angry and alarmed about the planned layoffs. “We’re going to fight this and we’re going to fight it hard,” said Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents 207,000 mail sorters and post office clerks. “It’s illegal for them to abrogate our contract.”

Even the Obama administration questions whether the USPS actually even overpaid the pension fund, and actual conservatives, like Darrell Issa, see this bailout for what it is.

Meanwhile, Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Oversight Committee, says the pension proposals would amount to an unjustifiable bailout that would not solve the agency’s underlying problems. He is pushing a bill that would create an emergency oversight board that could order huge cost-cutting and void the postal service’s contracts