Matt Rourke/AP file photo

Forced retirement for Postal Service workers voted down in Senate

Measure that would rid bill of reductions in workers’ comp fails; overall vote to come.

A measure that would have required eligible postal service employees to retire without buyout incentives failed in the Senate on Tuesday. The amendment, introduced this week by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would have reduced the cash-strapped agency’s expenses by reducing its large percentage of retirement-eligible workers. It failed in a 33-65 vote.

“There is a real risk that these buyouts will go to workers who would already be planning to retire anyway,” Coburn’s office said of the retirement provisions in the 21st Century Postal Service Act, (S. 1789), which was still being debated at publication time. “These buyouts may essentially be retirement gifts to already-retiring workers.”

The Senate was still debating other amendments to the sweeping postal reform legislation Tuesday evening, including measures prohibiting collective bargaining at USPS, to increase the amount workers contribute to their health benefits and life insurance, and to limit pay for USPS executives.

Another amendment introduced by Coburn to curtail the amount agencies can spend on government conferences passed unanimously Tuesday.

Another controversial amendment failed to clear the Senate. It would have required USPS to continue six-day mail delivery. The Senate voted down the measure 43-56. It required a full Senate vote.

An amendment introduced last week by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii , stripping the bill of language that threatened to scale back workers’ compensation benefits failed 46-53.

The language remaining in the bill gives workers injured on the job 50 percent of their predisability pay upon reaching retirement age. Under current law, employees disabled on the job can get up to 75 percent of their basic salaries tax-free, plus medical-related expenses. About half of the federal employees who currently receive workers’ comp are postal workers.