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Postal workers sue post office; Healthcare remains an issue

By Fritz Mayer
October 9, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC — Readers of The River Reporter know that their papers are not being delivered through the mail on time, and the paper has reported this is mostly attributable to consolidation of United States Postal Service (USPS) mail sorting facilities, which has been taking place across the country.

Lawmakers in Washington are aware of the problems that the USPS is undergoing, and before they shut down the government on October 1, some lawmakers were working on some solutions. One of the biggest problems, in the opinion of many observers, is that USPS, unlike any other entity in the country, is required by a 2006 law to prefund 75 years worth of the healthcare costs of future employees, and to do that in 10 years.

One solution a Senate committee was working on was to shift USPS employees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to Medicare in order to cut healthcare costs. Union representatives who testified at a hearing about the matter said that would not adequately address the prefunding issue, and a proposal was floated that would allow the prefunding payments to be spread out over 40 years rather than 2016.

The target is to have a postal reform bill in place by the end of the year.

In the meantime, however, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) filed a lawsuit against the USPS with the Postal Regulatory Commission on September 5 claiming the post office “is not complying with its own standards, is depriving individuals, small businesses and organizations of the service they are entitled to by law.”

An APWU bulletin said, “The Postal Service’s failure to comply with the law is the result of an arbitrary decision to accelerate mail processing facility closures that were scheduled to take effect in 2014. The closures have resulted in the ‘regular and systematic violation’ of first-class mail service standards.”

“The complaint cited information we received from locals, in response to our request, as part of the union’s fight against network consolidation,” said executive vice president Greg Bell.

“We have been seeking and have received evidence of delayed mail resulting from the closure of many mail processing centers,” Bell said.

Also from the bulletin, “The complaint also alleges that the USPS has information that it has not made public that will show the violations described above.