Rep. Darryl Issa’s Sept. 20 Commentary column, “Time for another government bailout,” includes many inaccuracies about the U.S. Postal Service. It appears to be nothing but a political attack on government workers and labor unions.
The Postal Service does not need a bailout and has not requested one. Two independent auditors concluded that the Postal Service has overfunded its retirement fund by $50 billion to $75 billion. If the USPS were permitted to apply overpayments to future liabilities, the agency’s financial crisis would be resolved.
Mail volume reached its peak in 2006, long after the advent of the Internet and e-mail. The recession is a major reason for the reduction in commercial mail.
Labor costs, which account for 78 percent of revenue, include the salaries and benefits of more than 87,000 postal employees who are without labor contracts. Contrary to Mr. Issa’s assertion, the American Postal Workers Union contract, which covers the largest bargaining unit in the Postal Service and in the United States, permits surplus-employee layoffs. Despite his claim, postal unions have not “balked at the idea of changing contracts that refuse to allow necessary layoffs even if workers would be offered the opportunity to be retrained and fill other positions in the federal government.” The union is bargaining with the Postal Service, but we have not yet been presented with management’s proposals on this topic. Without any investigation, Mr. Issa’s article blithely predicts the union’s reaction to contract proposals that have not yet been made.
Postal costs have been cut by $3 billion in 2010 alone, and approximately 213,000 positions have been eliminated since 2001. It is worth acknowledging the efforts of the 600,000 men and women who operate the largest, most efficient and least expensive mail system in the world.
American Postal Workers Union