postal service

Postal Service Set to Default on Billions in Health Fund Payments

The Postal Service, faced with continuing financial losses because of a drop in mail volume, expects to default for the first time on its annual payment for future retiree health benefits.

The $5.5 billion payment, which was deferred from the 2011 fiscal year, is due Aug. 1. The Postal Service is also scheduled to make a $5.6 billion payment for 2012 in September. A spokesman for the agency said that barring intervention from Congress, it would default on both payments.

“We are simply not capable of making either of these payments to the U.S. Treasury, in part or in full, while continuing to meet our other legal obligations, including our obligation to provide universal service to the American people,” said the spokesman, Dave Partenheimer.

Missing the health care payment will not cause immediate disaster, nor will it affect current retiree benefits. The Postal Service will still be able to pay its employees and buy fuel for its trucks to deliver mail on time, postal officials said.

To read more about this latest problem to beset the USPS and the reasons for it, please click here

Who is ALEC?

This is a good overall story about ALEC for those looking for a good overview.  It is from the CBS Evening News with Roger Pelley.  Hope you saw it on TV, but if not, here it is.

This is one of the better :summary” stores that I have seen on the MSM.  I hope that CBS will realize what they are looking at here and put their investigative reporters on this story and shine more light on this secretive organization which does its best to avert attention.

To read the entire report, including the embedded video, please click here.

To see the video only, please click here for the VLTPVideoChannel.

Labor-Community Caravans Head to DC 6/28 to support Postal Community Hunger Strikers

Cars, buses and vans of labor and community activists will form a Caravan to Washington, DC, in the early hours of Thursday, June 28, to join a mushrooming national hunger strike to save postal services and jobs.

The nationally organized hunger strike was initiated by Community and Postal Workers United, spearheaded by postal workers in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Jersey and New York. (See CPWUnited.com.)

To read more about this important event for Postal Workers–and this affects union workers everywhere–please clickhere

BE THERE

July 25-28, 2012
Salt Lake City, Utah

Fight Post Office Closings – CPWU

Neither Snow or Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night Will Stay these couriers from their swift completion of their appointed rounds. Are we going to let greed & corruption destroy the Post Office ? ? ? . . . . . NOOO ! ! !

The United States Postal Service is required to hold a public meeting to close a Post Office. If your Post Office is on the list to be closed, watch for date & time to be posted for this meeting at your Post Office.

What to do next:  click here to read this important post by the CPWU

How Phantom Accounting Is Destroying the Post Office

From AlterNet by David Morris

The massive post office deficit that is driving management to commit institutional suicide is make-believe.

“…To overcome the budget scoring objections, Congress began what in retrospect we can see was little more than an exercise in rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. The final law allowed the Postal Service to use its overpayments to pay off its debt and delay increasing rates for three years. After that, any overpayments were to be collected in an escrow fund that would be unavailable to the post office until Congress determined how the funds would be used. And then came the quid pro quo. The Postal Service became responsible for paying postal workers for the time they spent in prior military service. Up until then, as one might expect, these obligations were paid by the U.S. Treasury. Assuming that obligation essentially eliminated any post office surplus during the 10-year scoring window.”

Read this fascinating article on the Post Office here

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

Conservative’s Support ALEC by Comparing it to the NCSL – Why There Really is No Comparison

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is the new diversion being used by ALEC and their Right Wing supporters in an attempt to divert attention away from ALEC’s agenda – and current media interest about that agenda.

ALEC would like to distract those reading the hundreds of articles, blogs, tweets and other information now coming out about them by claiming that there are other organizations in existence that also provide some form of “model legislation” for lawmakers to use in developing laws for their states.  While there are other organizations out there as ALEC claims, there is simply no real comparison between what organizations such as the NCSL and ALEC does.  This argument is another apples to oranges one which ALEC is very good at making.

The complaints made against ALEC are about their writing and dissemination of hundreds of model bills that have become law and/or are in debate currently.  These include; Stand Your Ground laws nationwide (which they fail to admit two of their members originally introduced in Florida several years ago), their model legislation to deregulate the EPA, repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), voter ID, privatization of the USPS and rolling back environmental laws.  While all of ALEC’s activities interfering with our legislative and democratic processes are now coming under attack, those seen as related to the SYG and Voter legislation are drawing the most ire.

In responding to their critics, ALEC has decided to go on the offensive by tossing the NCSL into the conversation, claiming they are doing the same thing.  What we all should keep in mind is that the fight against ALEC is for specific actions they have taken that put human life, liberty and the right to vote in jeopardy.  The NCSL did not write, support or lobby for Stand Your Ground, Voter ID legislation, deregulation of the EPA or to privatize the Postal Service – ALEC did these things and did it on behalf of corporate interests.  No one has accused the NCSL of ever disseminating any legislation even remotely similar to those ALEC has acknowledged responsibility for.  If ALEC has specific allegations against the NCSL – or any other organization – about “model” legislation they’ve put out, they should make them.

Just as there is a diversity of the types, styles and operations of corporations in the U.S., there is a similar diversity of types of organizations that exist to influence democracy – on the left, middle and the right.  A company may offer the same product as another but operate in a manner that is criminal or illegal – that does not mean all companies making the same product are also operating improperly.  Similarly, the improper actions of one organization to influence politics and government does not transfer to other organizations with the same goals or operations.

With developing legislation  there are several organizations involved in that but ALEC alone has a record of disseminating “model legislation” that has been used to kill humans, create mass incarceration, deregulate governmental oversight, eliminate public and private sector jobs and suppress the legal right of Americans to vote.  ALEC is now international, involved in conservative legislative efforts in the UK, Poland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.  This is why they are under steady attack from all sides today.  They operate behind a curtain of secrecy, refusing to release their membership lists, proposed legislation and operate in such a manner that they afford corporations an equal voice and vote at the table – in exchange for millions in contributions and membership fees from the companies.

The SCOTUS decision in Citizen’s United granted corporations the “right” to involve themselves in our elections.  ALEC sold them the right to pre-vote on legislation that will ultimately become state laws.  One gave corporations the right to financially control the outcome(s) of our electoral processes and the other an actual way to vote in the laws developed.  The NCSL does not operate in this manner, and even if it did, they are not a part of the ongoing battle over anti-democratic activities.

ALEC came under attack last year through protests in Cincinnati, New Orleans and Phoenix at meetings held by them in those cities.  Much of ALEC’s model legislation was released by a whistleblower and made public.  Bloggers, activists and journalists dug through piles of documents, research and FOIA returns and began to write extensively about ALEC and their activities – and ALEC basically thumbed their nose at everyone…until the Trayvon Martin and stand your ground law became a national  issue. Suddenly ALEC found themselves in the news worldwide and realized their error of not getting on top of the resistance that had been slowly building against them over the past year.  By staying more or less silent and ignoring reports and articles identifying them, they allowed a groundswell to build and become an anti-ALEC-tsunami.  Now trying to play catch-up, they call upon Right Wing bloggers, activists, institutes, foundations and organizations to come to their aid and help them push back against the tide.

The main thrust of this push-back is that they are not the only organization out there pushing model legislation, and now assert others are simply “jealous” of their rate of success.  I do not perceive any jealousy about ALEC’s successes, rather an anger that they have been allowed to operate like this for so long, changing the landscape of our democracy on behalf of paying corporations.

Don’t be distracted by ALEC’s new argument about the NCSL and lose sight of who and what ALEC is and why they are under intense attacks and their members quitting en masse. Corporate boards and executives are very much aware of the activities of their companies and whether those activities present the possibility of a scandal.  So far 12 companies have abandoned ALEC along with an increasing number of elected legislators.  They are not leaving due to unsubstantiated claims by leftist media and activists – they’ve left because each knows with certainty what ALEC is and what they’ve been doing and are getting out before everything concerning ALEC is made public.

Consider the source of the false claims about the NCSL and similar organizations.  They exist to genuinely attempt to assist lawmakers in developing laws beneficial to their states in response to an established need.  ALEC assists corporations to write laws to fatten their bottom lines and use their legislative members to make that happen.  There is no organization out there operating in like manner, corporate funded and presenting only one kind of political view…just ALEC.

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:

LA. ALEC State Chairman, Rep. Greg CROMER PUBLICLY RESIGNS FROM ALEC

From Louisiana Voice

“Rep. Greg Cromer (R-90) today announced his resignation from the American Legislative Exchange Coucil

ALEC is an association of conservative state lawmakers from around the country.  Cromer has served as chair of the Louisiana ALEC Chapter since December 2010.

“Cromer emailed his resignation today to Laura Elliott, ALEC’s director of state programs.

“It has been brought to my attention that there have been meetings and/or activities with ALEC staff members within the state of Louisiana that I have not been privy to,” Cromer wrote.  “As a courtesy I believe I should have been notified as to any activities that ALEC staff were expected to participate in within the state of Louisiana.”

Read full article here