The United States Postal Service seems to be playing with the deck stacked against it. Not only is the cash-strapped Post Office fighting to survive in the digital age, but now it has to answer to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
After reaching an agreement on a 4-½ year contract with one of its biggest labor unions, the USPS is being asked by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the House Oversight chairman, to appear before the watchdog committee to answer questions about the labor agreement.
“Eighty percent of the Postal Service’s operating expenses are workforce-related. Costs must be reduced to align them with falling mail volume and declining revenue projections. The union contract renewals are the best chance to find new savings,” Issa said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this looks like a missed opportunity. The Postal Service must show Congress and the American people that it can pay its own way, because the numbers do not seem to add up.”
Issa is concerned that the agreement with the American Postal Workers Union, which would give raises to about 205,000 workers while increasing the cost of their health insurance (by 2016, the Postal Service will contribute 76 percent of a postal worker's health premiums, down from 79 percent, according to the Washington Post), is not sustainable. Rep. Dennis Ross, R.-Fla., chairman of the postal service subcommittee, agreed.
“The Postal Service cannot afford to continue to pay, as their own numbers have estimated, a 34.2% wage premium over comparable private sector labor,” Ross said in a statement.
Issa said the hearing, scheduled for April 5, will “establish an important baseline for Congress’s upcoming work on the Postal Service’s structure, fiscal health and self-governance.”
This article appears in the March 24, 2011, edition of NJ Daily.