A group of Senators has introduced legislation designed to save the Postal Service from its financial problems. The bill is called the 21st Century Postal Service Act and is being sponsored by Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Scot Brown (R-MA).
Some of the actions the legislation would implement include:
- Authorize USPS to offer buyouts to employees to help reduce its workforce. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is directed to refund the Postal Service for what everyone agrees has been an overpayment to the Federal Employees Retirement System. Using this money to support buyouts, the Postmaster General estimates he can reduce the Postal Service workforce by as many as 100,000 employees over the next three years in order to reach savings of $8 billion a year.
- Allow the Postal Service to work with its employee unions and OPM to develop a new health plan to cover postal employees. The Postmaster General estimates that a new healthcare plan could cut costs roughly in half, while maintaining adequate benefits. The plan would only be implemented if the unions and Postal Service agree on the terms.
- Recalibrate the pre-funding requirements for its retiree health benefits by amortizing those payments over time.
- Require postal arbitrators in labor negotiations to consider the financial health of the USPS and to compare postal wages and benefits to federal employees.
- Establish a process for closing mail-processing facilities, which will include a complete, published study that examines the feasibility of downsizing rather than closing; provides advance notice to the public, and a comment period.
- Continue Saturday mail delivery for two years. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would conduct a study to determine the “true savings” that could be realized by eliminating the six-day service requirement. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) also will review the requirement and make a recommendation for further action.
- Require the Postal Service to, where feasible, deliver to curbside, sidewalk or centralized mailboxes rather than to door delivery points no later than 2015.
- Allow the Postal Service to begin shipping wine and malt beverages if mailed by a licensed winery or brewery.
Speaking about the legislation, Lieberman said, “The U.S. Postal Service is not an 18th Century relic. It is a 21st Century national asset. But times are changing rapidly and so too must the Postal Service, if it is to survive. The bottom line is we must act quickly to prevent a Postal Service collapse and we must act boldly to secure its future. The Postal Service needs long-term reform that includes a necessary restructuring of the way it meets its obligations to its customers and to its employees.”