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Federal Employees News Digest : Feb. 18, 2013
February 18, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 29 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com ‘Part of a pattern’ The American Postal Workers Union, which represents about 200,000 employ- ees at processing facilities and retail post- al locations, joined NALC in condemn- ing Donahoe's announcement. "We think it's a bad move, and it's part of a pattern," Sally Davidow, spokesper- son for APWU told FEND. "The Postal Service already has slashed mail service. They are reviewing 13,000 post offices, to either close them or drastically curtail their hours." "They've closed about 50 mail process- ing facilities, and they have plans to close about 100 more---this year," she con- tinued. "They could close even more in 2014. And all of these together represent a real degradation of the Postal Service and what it offers." "Communications is changing, and the way we communicate is changing. and there's no doubt about that," Davidow said. "But does the Postal Service still have an important function in American society? Absolutely. Its mission is also to bind the nation together. It can do that through let- ters and packages. It can do that through providing a secure email and signature, or by providing secure access to the Internet for those who don't have it---but it can't offer these new services under existing law. Not without jumping through all kinds of hoops, and this makes the problem worse." "Right now, this will affect APWU directly by leading to closure of more mail processing facilities and closing retail offices, making the Postal Service weaker for the future, less relevant, less competitive and less able to perform its mission," Davidow added. Davidow reiterated her union's conclu- sion---and that of other postal unions--- that the "problem" that ending Saturday delivery is meant to solve is spurious. She said that of the $15.9 billion in Postal Service losses officially reported last year---which she and her union do not accept as accurate---$11.1 billion derives from the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act's pre-funding requirement. "When people hear the Postal Service is facing financial difficulties, they assume it's due to e-mail and the Internet," she told FEND. "The problem is still misunderstood." "The central problem is---as we've said before---the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which we can fix," Davidow concluded. "There are certain- ly forces that want to privatize the Postal Service, and keeping it at the brink of disaster aids that effort." Asked whether the wave of strong reaction in the media---with letters and opinion pieces condemning the pro- posed move---gave the union hope, Davidow said, "For now we just have to wait and see, and hope that the American people fight for this and we get to keep our Postal Service." "We think the focus has to be on Congress," Davidow said, "We know only Congress can hammer out a legiti- mate solution, a bill to address this issue, and so the problem is in Congress, not the White House or anywhere else." Sequester warnings, remedies proliferate With the possibility of a sequester growing more real, lawmakers, unions and members of the administration this month sounded new warnings of its consequences---and offered recommen- dations on how to avoid them. One of the more ominous warnings came from an Office of Management and Budget official, who said that there is "no way" to implement a sequester without the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal employees. OMB Federal Controller Danny Werfel made the statement at a Feb. 8 White House press briefing while detail- ing some of the anticipated effects of the across-the-board cuts that would be trig- gered March 1 by sequestration. "Under the law, before an employee can be furloughed, they need a specific notice of their furlough with a specific amount of time," he said. "In most cases, it's 30 days, but it depends on a lot of different factors. But as a general rule, a 30-day notice is typically what's required. I'm not aware of any specific notices that have been issued. But if we go past this date, there's certainly---there's no way to implement the sequester without signifi- cant furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal employees." Werfel said OMB would have to apply the $85 billion in mandatory cuts to every account in the government. "Every account has to be cut by a certain percentage," he said. "It's not like the agencies can move money amongst accounts. But it's even worse than that. Even at the subaccount, there's something called Program, Project and Activity, which exists within each account. And the way the sequester law is written, is that even---underneath the account, even at the Program, Project and Activity, they all need to be cut by that same percentage." Werfel said that in terms of defense, the cuts would create a "serious crisis in military readiness and pose the risk of creating a hollow force." He also gave examples of how the cuts would affect domestic programs. "The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture would have to cut back on food inspections, leav- ing the country more vulnerable to public health risks due to food-borne illnesses," he said. "The FBI would have to reduce its law enforcement capacity. FEMA would have to eliminate funding for firefighters and other emergency personnel. And the Justice Department would have to fur- lough hundreds of federal prosecutors." Werfel expressed skepticism when a reporter suggested that the cuts might be less painful if Congress could were to pass a law to give agencies more lee- way in choosing what to cut. continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 4
Feb. 11, 2013
Feb. 25, 2013