The Postal Service has lots of money, $45 billion, in its Health Retirement Pension plans for its workers. Why, because in 2006, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) forced USPS to prepay its retirement health plans 75 years in advance in just 10 short years beginning in 2007!
PAEA Crazy Poison Pill for USPS
Sounds crazy right? Yes, it’s absolutely crazy. But it gets even nuttier when this mandated payment of $5.5 billion/year started in 2007 after the U.S. economy tanked and many businesses laid off hundreds of thousands of workers. Also, the businesses cut back on many services, including mail, to its customers. In this harsh economic environment, the PAEA pre-funding mandate kicked in when all businesses in the U.S. suffered due to the wild speculation on Wall Street.
So, when the United States had it’s most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression of 1929, Congress forced USPS to begin paying $5.5 billion – $5.8 billion a year. The timing for this poison pill to undermine the financial health of USPS was just amazing. You would think that perhaps Congress would then rescind this horrible prefunding mandate because no corporate or public institution has ever had to prefund 75 years out in a mere 10 years. Yet, some in Congress, who never bothered to put their names to the PAEA bill because it was passed in the middle of the night on a voice vote, decided that USPS could handle this massive prefunding mandate. Are you with me? Doesn’t this sound absurd to you?
Yes, it is a deliberate poison pill and it has been used to claim USPS is bankrupt and must slash jobs (Postmaster General Donahoe has cut 300,000 jobs since 2006), close 3700 post offices and consolidate processing centers.
Basically, PMG Donahoe decided to “right-size” (their special buzz word for selling off their historic already paid-for post offices and other postal buildings) and sell off America’s infrastructure of beautiful post offices. The real estate organization tasked with this is C. B. Richard Ellis Real Estate company. One of the largest real estate companies in the United States.
According to a recent interview with Mr. Cliff Guffey, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), on the Ed Show, the U.S. government is deliberately raiding the USPS $45 billion prepaid retiree health plans to get extra money for other purposes in case the Congress decides not to raise the debt ceiling–for example. This is happening while Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe guts the infrastructure of USPS by selling off historic post offices throughout the United States together with many New Deal era post office murals.
What You Can Do
Tell President Obama and Congress to reverse the prefunding mandate and stop the sell off of our historic post offices and art. Stop the Postal Heist going on by those who want the real estate for their own profiteering. Stop the Postal Heist designed to undermine the entire U.S. Postal Service, union jobs, and infrastructure. Stop the Postal Heist to privatize our precious postal service by those who fail to understand the need for public services like USPS. Even though USPS takes no tax dollars, it is still in our constitution and it is a public service, a public good and should be saved from privatization by those who have tried to do this for decades.
Meanwhile, on the SavethePostOffice.com blog, please check out this great new article, “Betrayal without remedy: The unwinding of the Postal Service,” by Mark Jamison.
“The Postal Service is supposed to serve the entire country, but that certainly hasn’t stopped the companies and industries that see themselves as the primary stakeholders in the postal system from demanding a more corporatized structure and mission that will serve their narrow interests.”
“That’s not the real story, though, and it never has been. The real story is just beginning to come into focus: The leadership of the Postal Service, using the laws already in place, is engaged in their version of that most American of economic phenomena — the leveraged buyout.”
We must save our U.S. Postal Service for present and future generations.