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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

USPS may face major changes

Friday, November 25, 2011

An industry that affects every American, the United States Postal Service, is potentially changing. Two House Bills are in the beginning of the legislation process that could drastically change the postal service.
An industry that supports 9 million jobs and affects potentially every American could be looking at some major changes. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is struggling financially due to a 2006 congressional mandate that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years. The mandate states they must pre-fund the benefits within 10 years.

"No other service, no other public or private entity has to do this," Brazil Post Office Branch President Karen Stearley said. The Postal Service is paying out of its operating budget, which isn't funded by taxpayers. Instead, all its revenue comes from the sale of its products and services.

According to SaveAmericasPostalService.org, the other financial problem the Postal Service faces is it doesn't have access to "tens of billions of dollars of earned revenue that are sitting in surplus funds. As a quasi-public agency, it needs Congress to give it access to its own money."

H.R. 1351: USPS Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011, which has bipartisan support and over 200 co-sponsors, addresses the pre-funding issue.

"Bill 1351 helps correct the problem," Stearley told The Brazil Times. "They want to recalculate what's needed. We need Congress to give us access to our own money. It's like we've got the money; we're not going broke. We don't need a taxpayer bailout; we simply need access to the funds that we have overpaid. We also need an adjustment in that mandated payment to the retirees' health benefits."

She explained the Postal Service has overpaid the Civil Service Retirement Account and there has been an overpayment on the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), causing extra revenue in surplus funds.

"It would be nice if it would require pre-funding only when the post office is profitable or repeal that pre-funding mandate all together because like I said nobody else is required to do that," she said.

According to the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), if the USPS were a private company, it would be allowed to fund its retiree health expenses on a pay-as-you-go basis, which is the norm for multi-employer plans.

"That in a nutshell is our biggest problem, we're saddled with that $5.5 billion payment every year, and if we're having a good year -- fine, but if we're having a tough year? Everybody's having a tough year. It's not just the post office, everybody's feeling the crunch." Other than House Bill 1351, another bill is being discussed in regards to these issues. The H.R. 2309: Postal Reform Act of 2011 will authorize the postal service to go to five days, will downsize the USPS by closing more post offices and will require mailboxes to be on the streets or in groups at the end of streets instead of near doors on the houses.

"It just blows my mind," Stearley said.

"Congress keeps talking about creating jobs and this bill could drop the hammer on 80-100,000 nationwide good-paying jobs."

Stearley explained her concerns for moving mailboxes farther from houses. "It would not be a safe thing for the elderly people's physical well-bring," Stearley said. "We (mail carriers) know where all the older people live and which ones live alone. Now on the business side I can see where (moving the mailboxes farther from the house) would be a savings, because we wouldn't have to go to the door unless we needed a signature. Our efficiency would probably go up and we could get around faster, but I think for our customers I don't know if it's worth that to them. You have to balance what is good for the business versus what is good for the customer."

Stearley encouraged community members to research the issues for themselves.

"We want to put a call out there for our customers to know what's going on, because this doesn't just affect us," she said. "This is something, if it gets passed, that is going to affect everybody from businesses that are open on Saturdays to people who need their medicine delivered on Saturdays." Stearley asked community members to take action by calling Indiana District 8 Representative Larry Bucshon to voice their opinions.

"I feel like people need to call Mr. Bucshon's office and ask questions and give their comments," Stearley told The Brazil Times.

"This is the postal service and I'm just afraid far too many people forget that's the only product we have ... I'm truly concerned about what will happen to service," she said. "We're not a moneymaking outfit. My concern is at what cost to service? As an individual, as a carrier who's out there everyday taking care of my customers, if we can do all this stuff without hurting service, then I'm fine. If it makes my job harder, so be it. But I don't want to see service take a hit."

Stearley spoke of the USPS as a service people could easily take for granted.

"We're always there, well what if we're not? If we're important to you, then you need to call Mr. Bucshon and ask him to support Bill 1351 and to not support Bill 2309."

Currently, H.R. 2309 has been considered in committee, which has recommended it be considered by the House as a whole. H.R. 1351 is in the first step in the legislative process.

To contact Bucshon's local office, call 812-465-6484.

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People do need to contact Representative Bucshon's office ! These are critical issues which would affect everyone and these are issues which need to be prevented! It seems that we are having more and more necessary means of mailing service cut, and with the Terre Haute post office most likely going to be gone sometime in the near future, that is also creating a huge problem for thousands, so PLEASE ~ LET'S ALL CONTACT MR. BUCSHON.

-- Posted by JaniLou on Sat, Nov 26, 2011, at 10:13 AM

What they are trying to the Post Office is a national disgrace. The Post Office hires the most veterans of any business in the country. What has become of our country when we want to shut down the post office and throw grandma under the train with social security. Meanwhile, the millionaires go scott free. Its time the American people wake up. No wonder there are 99% people in the streets. Get out and vote. Fight the post office trying to bust the Unions. If they want to lay off people, the fish rots from the head down, start at the top. The same day the officials came to Terre Haute, AOL ran the headline UPS was hiring 50,000 people. What's wrong with this picture. Wake up America

-- Posted by Maggie7872 on Sat, Nov 26, 2011, at 6:07 PM

Well said Maggie7872 ! You are absolutely right.....it does start at the top. And while we (the struggling population) try to survive from day to day, the millionaires and government officials are reaping the rewards of our hard work. And yes, it is a "national disgrace" what they are trying to do with the Post Office. It's as if we are going back to the stagecoach days, where mail delivery was often days or weeks getting to its destination. Come on now....SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE BEFORE IT REACHES THAT POINT. It's just pure common sense that people cannot survive with the government taking away necessities. And that's what is happening, in so many areas of our lives.

-- Posted by JaniLou on Sun, Nov 27, 2011, at 11:33 AM

I rarely use the postal service for anything, personally. It takes too long for a parcel or package to get to its destination - and even when you pay for 2-day delivery, the USPS won't 'guarantee' it'll get there on time. That's why UPS/FEDEX gets the business, folks.

There are "99% people in the streets" because of millionaire's? lol How interesting.

-- Posted by Emmes on Mon, Nov 28, 2011, at 12:17 PM

I personally DO USE the USPS daily and depend on it for many things. I haven't had any problems with delivery on time for packages. Certainly sorry that some of you have, but like everything else, nothing is perfect. However, taking away the dependable 1 or 2 day mail delivery is definitely a huge problem for thousands of people. Businesses DEPEND on it, and certainly a lot of individuals do as well.

-- Posted by JaniLou on Mon, Nov 28, 2011, at 2:15 PM

I've found the USPS is cheaper than UPS/FEDEX and the parcels get there in the same amount of time if not quicker. ( Study shows this to be true)

But, if you feel better because you paid more to ship it, good for you.

-- Posted by reddevil on Mon, Nov 28, 2011, at 7:51 PM

A large part of the financial problems of the Postal Service are related to the fact that [beginning with Reagan] Congress has been raiding the Service's accounts to cover the red ink of its own deficit spending patterns. If Congress had not been robbing the Service of its revenue each year, many of these problems would have not existed at all for the Service, and Congress' own ineptitude at running the financial affairs of the nation would have become far more evident far sooner.

-- Posted by catnapper on Wed, Nov 30, 2011, at 11:20 PM

I'll gladly pay more to ensure my package arrives when they say it will, instead of several days later. Thing is, USPS charges a higher rate to 'guarantee' this service, then tells you "we can't guarantee it'll get there in 2 days".

You get what you pay for.

-- Posted by Emmes on Mon, Dec 5, 2011, at 11:50 AM

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