September 2010 Update
This month’s update barely makes it in under the wire. While the St. Paul Processing and Distribution Center has moved to the new building in Eagan, several issues remain to be addressed. I would like to express my thanks to the Members who took the time to attend the St. Paul Branch Meeting and bring additional items to our attention. Meetings with management in this respect have recommenced and the remaining issues as well as the items discussed at the Branch Meeting will be raised at the next opportunity.
On another note, I recently returned from the Semi-Annual Meeting of the Local Unions or SAMLU. For those not familiar with this meeting, twice a year the Nation Union convenes a meeting of the Local Union where they receive reports from the National Officers as well as reports from the Contract Administration Department, the Mail Handler Benefit, and the NPMHU Political and Legislative Director. The Local Unions are also provided an opportunity to submit agenda items for discussion at the SAMLU.
I don’t believe that anyone will be surprised to hear that there were extensive discussions concerning the financial situation of the Postal Service. As you may recall, early in the year an audit conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded that the Postal Service had overpaid its liability to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) by $75 billion dollars. A subsequent audit initiated by the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) concluded that this amount was anywhere from $50 to $55 billion dollars. It should also be noted that a more recent OIG audit has concluded that the Postal Service has overpaid $6.8 billion dollars to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Whether you use the OIG number of $75 billion or the PRC estimate of $50 to $55 billion there is a substantial amount which, if made available to the Postal Service, would do much to alleviate current budgetary shortfalls. In light of this situation, the SAMLU attendees discussed the best approach by which this matter could be remedied. The funds at issue are under the control of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and OPM announced last week that they lacked the authority to reallocate the CSRS overpayments to the Postal Service. OPM went on to say that it would take specific legislative action by Congress to apply a different methodology to the CSRS funding. Hopefully legislation that was introduced in July (H.R. 5746) will correct this matter and provide the Postal Service with some relief in this regard.
Another topic on the legislative front concerned a current proposal (Postal Operations Sustainment and Transformation (POST) Act of 2010) that an arbitrator be required to take into consideration the financial situation of the Postal Service when determining employee wages. It must be mentioned that the current statue does prohibit an arbitrator from taking this into consideration; but, leaves it up to each parties to argue the issues which they contend are most important. Such a change in the way wages are determined would undoubtedly tilt negotiations and arbitration in the favor of the Postal Service. As such, the Union remains opposed to this or any other intervention into a collective bargaining process that has provided equitable results since the 1970’s.
Under these circumstances you must ask yourself, who controls the financial condition of the Postal Service, an arbitrator or Congress?