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No one seems to have covered this story so here's the hearing at the U.S. Senate by Senator Tom Carper, arguably the strongest Postal Service advocate in Congress:

Now that you have seen the hearing, here now is an article I find interesting about postal union donations to Congress:

By Angela Greiling Keane and Jonathan D. Salant, Bloomberg
WASHINGTON — All but five of Congress’s 255 Democrats and independents received campaign donations from postal worker union groups in the past six years, raising the political risk of Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s move to end Saturday mail delivery.

Political action committees for the seven postal unions contributed $9.6 million from 2007 to 2012 to current members of Congress, 91 percent of it to Democrats and two independents who caucus with them, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a co-sponsor last year of the legislation that would have required waiting at least two years to end Saturday mail delivery, received $70,500, more postal union donations than any Republican in Congress. Calls to Collins’s office over two days weren’t returned.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House committee with oversight over the Postal Service, had the most donations among House Republicans, $44,500. Issa, who has said he backs ending Saturday mail delivery, said the union donations don’t affect his position.

Clearly, there's a conflict of interest for the notorious Rep. Darrell Issa given the number of donations he's received, which have been more than any other House Republican.  Senator Susan Collins received the most donations it seems for a member in the U.S. Senate as far as Republicans.
Democrats control the U.S. Senate, which must agree to most of the changes Donahoe says are needed to save the Postal Service from insolvency. Many of his proposals are intended to reduce labor costs accounting for 80 percent of the service’s expenses. That puts Donahoe in conflict with post office unions, which would lose most of the estimated 22,500 jobs that would be cut if Saturday delivery ends, and have spent years making friends on Capitol Hill.

“That’s why it’s been so hard to come up with a plan for the Postal Service,” said Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based watchdog group. “The obvious thing you want to do is cut back on the number of employees, cut back on services, cut back on benefits. That’s something Democrats haven’t wanted to do in part because of the support they’ve gotten from the unions.”

Donahoe is trying to cut $20 billion a year in costs after the Postal Service, in the face of declining mail volume due in part to email and online commerce, lost $15.9 billion last fiscal year and an additional $1.3 billion in the quarter that ended Dec. 31.

The postmaster general yesterday stood by his position that ending Saturday mail delivery in August is legal, even though appropriations bills for three decades have required six-day mail, with the government operating under temporary funding.

Senate Democrats including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada insist they, not Donahoe, get to decide on ending Saturday delivery. The Senate passed a measure last year that gave Donahoe some of what he wanted, while blocking him from ending Saturday mail delivery for at least two years. The House didn’t vote on that measure or its own plan.

“It may be in the public interest to curtail Saturday mail delivery, but the decision may not be made in economic interests but in the interest of who their friends are,” said Gary Chaison, a labor professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

On the other hand, you have protests like these:

This one hits close to home for me as I'm a Berkeley Native:

Any thoughts?

I have some:  Let's start nailing down our Congressmen/Congresswomen on this.

House of Representatives:

U.S. Senate:

And let's especially nail down Darrell Issa and Susan Collins since they've gotten the most contributions from the postal unions.

Darrell Issa:
Phone:  202-225-3906
Fax:    202-225-3303

Susan Collins:
Phone Lines:
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-2523
Augusta Office (207) 622-8414
Bangor Office (207) 945-0417
Biddeford Office (207) 283-1101
Caribou Office (207) 493-7873
Lewiston Office (207) 784-6969
Portland Office (207) 780-3575

Fax Lines:
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-2693
Augusta Office (207) 622-5884
Bangor Office (207) 990-4604
Biddeford Office (207) 283-4054
Caribou Office (207) 493-7810
Lewiston Office (207) 782-6475
Portland Office (207) 828-0380

Or alternatively, you can contact the DCCC or DSCC respectively if you want them to target the CA-49 race (district which Darrell Issa represents) and the U.S. Senate race in Maine in 2014 (where Susan Collins of course is a U.S. Senator)

Mailing Address:
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Main Phone Number: (202) 863-1500

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Phone (202) 224-2447
Fax (202) 969-0354

Originally posted to pipsorcle on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 05:09 PM PST.

Also republished by Knowledge Democrats and California politics.


Any thoughts?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Pension, Not Mentioned in the Reporting. (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rk2, Chi, OldDragon, chuckvw, bronte17, Lujane, irate

    "Labor cost" well sure when you have to be fully funding pensions for workers who aren't even born yet. Duh.

    But it's reported as "unions" vs "labor cost."

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 05:56:26 PM PST

    •  its health care, and its only for people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      working there currently and current retirees.

      •  link! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, Sparhawk, nextstep
        Well, at the end of fiscal year 2012, OPM estimated that the Postal Service's liability was almost $94 billion. And half this $94 billion is for current retirees and beneficiaries, and half is for current postal employees. And contrary to some misunderstandings that were reported in the press, none of this liability is for employees that are not yet hired or not yet born. And it has a balance of $46 billion, which means that it has funded 49 percent of the liability. And that leaves an unfunded liability of about $48 billion, and we think this is a sizeable amount given the losses that the Postal Service has
        been experiencing.
        •  Better link! (8+ / 0-)

          From the Office of the Inspector General

          The Postal Service has funded its pension benefit obligations at nearly 105 percent and is currently overfunded by $13.1 billion. The law does not allow the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to alter the contribution formula for the Postal Service, nor can it refund current or future surpluses. Although the Postal Service continues to implement changes to align costs with income, action is needed now to use the current and future surpluses to remain a viable business.

          Further, the Postal Service is required to fully fund its future retiree health care benefit obligations. Currently, the Postal Service has funded nearly 50 percent of that obligation ($44.1 billion of the $90.3 billion future obligation). As an alternative to the annual prefunding payments, which has been difficult, we estimate the Postal Service’s fair market value of real property to be $85 billion, which would be sufficient to cover the remaining unfunded obligation of $46 billion. Recognition of these assets that could be applied to the liability, if ever needed, could prevent the prefunding payments from increasing Postal Service debt.

          The fact remains that no other government bureau has even similar funding requirements, which is the issue that is not part of the conversation about "saving" the post office.
          The Postal Service is currently funded at 49 percent for retiree health care benefits, as of September 30, 2011, and is obligated to prepay $33.9 billion through 2016. Comparatively, the federal government does not prefund its retiree health care benefits, the military is funded at 35 percent, and state governments were funded at 30 percent in FY 2009. Only 38 percent of Fortune 1000 companies that offer retiree health care benefits prefund the expense, at a median funding level of 37 percent.
          It is a legislated "crisis".
  •  I can't watch the video (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, myboo, Lujane

    but based on your other items, I would rather see a hearing of whether the USPS is having the financial difficulties they are accused of, or whether it is actually a manufactured crisis as a result of the 2006 pension rules.

  •  Unions like the Postal Union are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    special interests, like any other. They want to continue Saturday delivery because jobs. That is understandable. But it's not a good enough reason to continue performing duties that the nation does not want or need. They announced the potential cessation of Saturday delivery, and the country didn't give a shit (obviously, the union did). 5 days of delivery of snail mail is plenty enough for most people.

    •  It's bad PR all together (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myboo, foresterbob

      I just think there's not enough dialog going on.  Postal workers could be trained on a whole new things to keep up with what's going on in the market.  Job training is something to consider and I don't think a single postal worker will object to doing so.  Not a single auto worker seems to object to learning new skills so long as they don't get laid off.

      The problem is, the headlines are always, "U.S. Postal Service cuts Saturday Delivery" instead of "U.S. Postal Service Trains Postal Workers on new IT Technology."

      I mean, there's not enough three-dimensional thinking here (or as Doc Brown from Back to the Future would say, "Marty, you're not thinking fourth dimensionally!").

      The truth is, there are still businesses that depend on Saturday delivery.  When you cut down the delivery, basically, you're thinking purely in austerity and draconian measures, not real outreach or town hall meetings.

      And since Darrell Issa is one who helped manufacture this crisis in the first place, he's the one whose feet needs to be held to the fire.

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