Page Title

 
   

WE GOT THE BUG:

Visit Unions-America.com!

This site is hosted on a Unionized Internet Service Provider. Remember, use or buy Union Made Products.

 


 

 

PRESIDENTS REPORT
BY

George Prusak, President

 

The last article I wrote was just before the vote for ratification of the new contract was take. I told all of you that I was against the ratification for various reasons, the new NTFT Jobs, PSE’s, Postmaster being allowed to perform bargaining unit work in certain offices and the contract not being 100% complete just to name a few.

 

Well the contract did get ratified by an overwhelming majority of the members of this Union and I will abide by their decision and do my best to enforce the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

 

The new Agreement was going to be the topic I was going to write on but in lieu of new circumstances that are coming into play, that topic will have to wait for another day.

 

The thing that is pressing is what the USPS to doing to stick it to us right now.

 

You should have all had a standup on August 11th or 12th regarding where the USPS wants to go in regards to the size of the USPS as a whole, staffing, including layoffs, cutting out OPM and getting rid of our Federal Medical Insurance and other things that do nothing but hurt the employee.

 

This is part of a concerted campaign by top postal management to convince Congress to slash postal employees’ health and pension benefits and override lay-off protection provisions in the postal unions’ contracts.

Just 3 months after we formally ratified a collective bargaining agreement, the Postal Service has sent a clear message: It intends to use the financial crisis caused by the deep recession and the crushing congressional pre-funding mandates to strip postal employees of our bargaining rights.

In addition to the stand-up talk, the Postal Service issued a press release to the media and distributed two “white papers” to congressional decision-makers. One paper, "Postal Service Health Benefits and Pension Programs," asks Congress to allow the USPS to set up its own health plan and pension plans outside the FEHBP and FERS/CSRS systems for all other federal employees. The other paper, "Workforce Optimization," takes the extraordinary step of asking Congress to void the lay-off protection provisions of the various postal labor contracts.

Although the stand-up talk claimed that the postal unions had been “briefed,” the reality is quite different. The USPS developed their plans without any discussion or negotiation with APWU or any of the other unions. Not surprisingly, the health and pension proposals would dramatically cut employee benefits below those earned by other federal employees. Let me be clear: We would never agree to any benefit plan unilaterally designed by postal management.

The issues of lay-off protection and health benefits are specifically covered by our contract. Each of them has historically been covered in collective bargaining between APWU and USPS. The Congress of the United States does not engage in contract negotiations with unions and we do not believe they are about to do so.

 

Of course, pension benefits for federal employees, including postal employees, are set by law. But rather than advocating brainless and dim-witted proposals, we believe USPS and Congress should focus on pending legislation (H.R. 1351) that would allow the USPS to recover massive surpluses in its CSRS and FERS pension accounts. Under the bill, which has 181 co-sponsors from both parties, the surpluses would be used to cover the unfair burden of pre-funding future retiree health benefits—a burden that no other company or agency bears and which accounts for 100 percent of the Postal Service’s losses over the past four years.

What should also be crystal clear is that the legislative arena is where our battle is at this moment in time.  What good is attempting to get agreement on contract language when, at the same time, the USPS is attempting an end run to Congress in an effort to overturn language Donohoe signed and pledged to honor less than three months ago? 

 

“This is the very definition of bad faith bargaining and you can rest assured that we will fight this effort with all means available to us”, according to our Industrial Relations Director, Mike Morris.  He also states that President Cliff Guffy has directed our legal staff to explore all avenues to challenge this USPS double-cross initiative.

 

Getting you our member actively involved in this battle is a critical move that is needed.  This should be your number one priority.  You need to engage with your elected members of Congress. Call them, write them, visit their town hall meetings. Tell them to support HR-1351 which would provide desperately-needed financial relief to the USPS. The bill instructs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to recalculate the Postal Service’s payments to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) using updated methodology. Independent actuarial studies have concluded that as a result of improper funding formulas, the USPS has overpaid CSRS by $50 billion to $75 billion. FERS overpayments are estimated at $6.9 billion.

The measure says that if overpayments are found during OPM’s recalculation, any surplus would be transferred to the USPS. OPM also would be required to immediately repay the USPS money it overpaid into its FERS account. The Postal Service could use these funds to meet its retiree health benefits funding obligations.

 

If you don’t know who your elected officials are go to the following web link:  http://capwiz.com/apwu/home/

 

I know this has been a long-winded article, but it is an important as anything could get. Union Solidarity to all.