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Senate Passes USPS Reform Bill – Now Its Up To an ALEC Influenced House…

Senate Passes USPS Reform Bill – Now Its Up To an ALEC Influenced House…

By Bob Sloan


The Senate today voted to pass a bill to salvage the USPS – for now.  Critical to avoiding a proposed shut down of hundreds of postal facilities and centers with the loss of 200,000 jobs, the news was cautiously welcomed by VLTP.  While the House has yet to vote on similar legislation, sponsored by Rep. Issa, this is a step in the right direction.  A key part of the Senate bill would return $11 billion  of the funds the USPS has been forced to set aside (since Congress stipulated that provision in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act [HR 6407]) for employee retirement and health plans…and reduce the amount of future contributions to that account.

Some Background

As VLTP has been reporting for nearly a year, our research uncovered an attempt by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to push for privatization of the USPS on behalf of two of their primary members and supporters, UPS and FedEx.  Congressional alumni and supporters of ALEC were instrumental in crafting and sponsoring the legislation that forced the USPS to “pay forward” retirement and health benefits covering 75 years…and to be accomplished in just a ten year window.  Sponsor of this legislation in the House was former Rep. Tom Davis (R VA).  His wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis was a Virginia Politician serving as a state Senator and a member of ALEC. Her political campaigns for Virginia‘s Senate was funded by husband Tom Davis and various Republican PACs including the former Majority Leader and ALEC Alumni Tom Delay through his ARMPAC.  Rep. Tom Davis received $211,333 during his public service from known ALEC members.

ALEC Alumni, Rep. John McHugh (R NY) first introduced Postal Reform legislation in 1996: (H.R. 3717).  Inexplicably – or perhaps due to great framing and a belief that McHugh genuinely wanted to help the USPS – he was heavily supported by USPS workers himself with campaign contributions totaling $272,800 from 5 USPS worker organizations. An additional $61,350 was contributed from UPS and FedEx.

Senate co-Sponsor of the 2006 legislation impacting the USPS was Susan Collins (R ME) who has ties to Koch money and is actively supporting Koch‘s EPA deregulation and environmental denial of climate change. In 2006 Collins received $166,138 in donations from; UPS ($22,168), Verizon, ($15,221), AT&T ($12,000), GlaxoSmithKline ($11,999), MBNA Corporation ($85,250)54 and Blue Cross and Blue Shield ($31,550) – all now known to be members of ALEC.  Because of the perception that Collins was working to help the USPS with the 2006 legislation, she received  $42,500 in contributions from postal workers. Over her career, Collins has so far received $510,993 from confirmed ALEC members.

Co-sponsor of the legislation to “save” the USPS in 2010 and again here in 2012, is Rep. Joe Lieberman. He received no funding from top ALEC corporate members in 2008 but that’s changed.  For 2012 – while not running for re-election – Lieberman received contributions from several corporate PAC’s and Committees who are also ALEC members, including; AT&T, Verizon, FedEx, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Comcast and Koch Industries.

As the Report published by VLTP and linked to above reveals, from the introduction of McHugh’s legislation in 1996 the conservative think tanks associated with ALEC have been publishing articles, statistics and reports calling for the privatization of the USPS, calling their services to the public a “monopoly”.  These “reports” and articles from; the Heritage Foundation, CATO, National Taxpayers Union and the Reason Foundation have a commonality beyond ALEC – they are all linked to the Koch brothers by ideology and funding.

Hopefully this background information helps you understand that key politicians involved in working to privatize the USPS has also been working to cause the collapse of the Postal Service.  By working both sides of the argument they have/are receiving huge sums of money as campaign contributions – from those supporting the USPS and those opposing them.  Additionally, an important aspect of this battle over mail service, is the fact that ALEC has 100 “Alumni” currently sitting in the U.S. Congress.

Under the foregoing circumstances the future of the USPS is in jeopardy to both the public as well as postal workers.  With UPS and FedEx seeking access to the first class mail and parcel post contracts worth billions of dollars annually, this battle is not going to simply cease.  With the assistance of ALEC, corporate funding, legislative members and alumni the USPS will not be “safe” for years to come…unless postal administrators take notice of the facts before them and work to eliminate ALEC and their influence in Congress.  If they don’t, much of their annual income and political efforts going forward will go to trying to forestall ALEC’s continued attempts at privatization.

Today’s news while heartening, is also dismaying as the Republicans are now “kicking the can down the road” much as they accuse President Obama’s administration of doing.  To understand the Senate bill and the provisions…

…Read the Christian Science Monitor story related to this news —> here

Don’t Let Business Lobbyists Kill the Post Office

…But politics also plays a huge part in this. In 2006, in what looks like an attempt to bust the Postal Workers’ Union, George Bush signed into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. This law required the Postal Service to pre-fund 100 percent of its entire future obligations for 75 years of health benefits to its employees – and not only do it, but do it within ten years. No other organization, public or private, has to pre-fund 100 percent of its future health benefits.

The transparent purpose of this law, which was pushed heavily by industry lobbyists, was to break a public sector union and privatize the mail industry. Before the 2006 act, the postal service did one thing, did it well, and, minus the need to generate profits and bonuses for executives, did it cheaply. It paid for itself and was not a burden to taxpayers.

To read more of Matt Taibbi’s article, please click here

And please click here to go to our forum and discuss the USPS with others.  The Forum is moderated by Marty Townsend who is from a multi-generational USPS family.

No easy fix for Postal Service woes

by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)

In today’s Charlottte Observer, NC Senator Richard Burr, one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate had the following to say about the USPS:

While the future of the Postal Service is uncertain, what we do know is that comprehensive reform will be needed to address its many issues… Unfortunately, the situation facing the Postal Service is much more grave than that, and it might require a restructuring of the entire agency in order to save it from insolvency.

To read the rest of his opinions re the USPS, see an immediate faulty conclusion, and to see why the USPS is in mortal danger from conservatives in Congress, please click here:

Postal workers organize rallies to protest possible service, job cuts

CHARLOTTE – U.S. postal workers across the nation took to the streets on one of the busiest postal days of the year, to rally for support.

Members of the American Postal Workers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Unions want the public to know about possible changes to service. They said those changes would be detrimental to the customer.

“There is going to be a great loss of service to the public and they don’t realize it, they don’t know it,” said Cindy Foster with the Charlotte APWU.

To read the rest of this article and to watch the embedded video, please click here.

Occupy Winston-Salem protests U.S. Post Office closures

On April 16, local residents and members of Occupy Winston-Salem held a demonstration at the U.S. Post Office in the Waughtown area. Protesters demanded that the only post office in the community not be closed down.

Across the country, hundreds of U.S. post offices are on a closure list, based upon the amount of revenue they generate. For the Waughtown area, which is known to be one of the most diverse, predominantly working class communities in Winston-Salem, the closure of the one and only post office would be a major setback.

To read more about this event, please click here.