Postal unions raise concerns about Senate reform bill

With Senate Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, likely to introduce legislation overhauling the Postal Service Wednesday, mailers and labor representatives will be keeping an eye on a few key provisions not included in the postal bill passed last week by the House Government Reform Committee.

A discussion draft of the Senate measure, circulated last week, suggests that the House and Senate bills will be largely similar.

But a few aspects of the discussion draft have some postal labor representatives up in arms. A Senate committee spokeswoman said Monday she does not anticipate any major changes from the draft when senators formally introduce the bill this week.

That draft includes a provision that could reduce compensation for postal employees injured on the job.

Such a change would be "totally unacceptable," said American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus.

"We will not have postal employees treated differently from all other federal workers, including members of Congress and their staffs," Burrus said, adding that he will work vigorously to oppose a workers compensation change.

"Our voices will be heard on that question," he said.

The Senate draft would also make it easier to allow the Postal Service to provide discounts to large mailers that better prepare their products for mailing. For example, a publisher that bundles magazines according to geography, relieving postal employees of that task, could be given a lower rate.

The House bill would prohibit any worksharing discounts that exceed the money saved by the Postal Service, but the Senate version includes no such prohibition.

Unlimited worksharing discounts amount to "subsidies for big commercial mailers at the expense of smaller mailers," said former Rep. William Clay, D-Mo., president of the Consumer Alliance for the Postal Service president. "I'm hoping the House's position on that will prevail. That's the only thing for all mailers," Clay said.

Meanwhile, some mailers are praising the Senate bill, saying it would give the Postal Service greater flexibility to manage its costs.

"The most important difference between these two bills is that [in the Senate bill] cost-control issues are dealt with in a more direct fashion than in the House," said Rafe Morrissey, a lobbyist for the Greeting Card Association.

Morrissey also called the worksharing discounts allowed by the Senate draft "a plus," and he suggested that the administration might be more likely to support the more ambitious Senate bill.

Other industry sources have also said Bush probably would be more willing to sign a more extensive overhaul bill.

Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce, said two issues common to both bills -- transferring payment of military retirement benefits back to the Treasury and abolishing an escrow account for the Postal Service -- would only be agreed to by the administration if the final bill includes enough other changes.

"The telling issue is going to be, is the White House convinced there is enough reform to swallow hard and accept [those two issues]?" Del Polito said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.