Postal Reform Due Soon

A guest blog by VOCAL RCA

Postal reform has been an outstanding necessity for the United States Postal Service (USPS) for years, but come July 24th, it may finally become a reality.

Since the passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) in 2006, the Postal Service has been on the verge of financial ruin. With the passage of PAEA came the creation of the Retiree Health Benefit Fund (RHBF), and USPS has been “losing” billions of dollars every year since. The monies paid into the fund were set up to pay for health care for future retirees. The main problem of the fund is the fact that it was designed to pay, in a ten-year time frame, healthcare for retirees 50 to 75 years from now. The great recession swooped down and the Postal Service took another hit, with mail decline. Electronic media also came into play and USPS has been in a perfect financial storm since then. With restraints from Congress, the quasi-private company cannot raise its’ own rates, it cannot innovate without money and it also cannot fix or modernize dilapidated equipment, vehicles and or post offices. No company is faced with the same circumstances as the Postal Service. It has also been rumored that Treasury Department has been dipping into the RHBF to pay down the huge budget deficit that this country has amassed. Some have speculated that PAEA was created solely to pay down debt and not future retiree health benefits at all.

It is astonishing that the Postal Service is still in business. The company is not losing money, Congress is stealing from it. The company is beyond broken and Congress is finally ready to talk about reform. But with everything that has put the company in this position, people like Congressman Darrell Issa, want to strip the company of collective bargaining rights, get rid of door to door service and eliminate mail delivery on Saturdays, with the exception of packages. Congress’ solution, so far, has involved the reduction of staff, at the Postal Service, and undo the “to the door” commitment the company has been doing for 235 years. Paying billions of dollars into the RHBF put the Postal Service in this mess and the only way Congress can fix it is to re-do the math on future retiree health needs. Congress also needs to alleviate some restrictions on what the company can ship, like beer and wine. The Postal Service needs to replace its vehicle fleet with more fuel efficient ones. The company also needs to redesign it post offices to attract a broader market. The Postal Service also needs to dip into another market besides shipping. USPS is finally seeing a sharp increase in package shipment but in other countries, like Japan, China and New Zealand, banking allows the post office to stay in the black. By July 24th Congress should discuss all innovate ideas to keep the United States Postal Service in business, and not just toss around ideas that eliminate the workforce that has made this company the most trustworthy federal agency in America.

Vocal RCA is a Rural Carrier Associate

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