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Federal Employees News Digest : Feb. 25, 2013
February 25, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 30 4 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com health plan. Other measures on the list included allowing the refund to USPS of Federal Employees Health Benefits program overpayments, streamlining its governance model, giving it authority to offer more products and services, and allowing it to require a defined contribu- tion retirement system for new employ- ees, among others. other views The panel also received testimony from a slate of other witnesses, includ- ing those from labor who called for less drastic reforms. "The circumstances confronting the USPS are truly dire, but the demise of the U.S. Postal Service is not inevi- table," American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey told the panel. "Congress can cure the illness without killing the patient." Guffey took particular aim at the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act's retiree health care prefunding requirement. "This requirement, which ostensibly was implemented to protect taxpayers in the event the USPS 'goes under,' is instead drowning the agency in a sea of debt," he said. He also urged the panel to grant USPS rate flexibility, and to reject moves that would lead to privatization of the Postal Service. "Privatization will leave these custom- ers by the side of the road," he said. "It also will result in sharp price increases. An examination of privatized posts in other countries demonstrates this clearly." Whatever path Congress eventually takes, there is broad agreement among lawmakers that serious measures are need- ed. Sen. Tom Carper, who chairs the com- mittee, said Congress needs to attend to the Postal Service "with a sense of urgency." "With all of the problems we face as a nation, we cannot afford to add the collapse of the Postal Service to the list," Carper said. "With the budget situa- tion we face, we can't just cut the Postal Service a check for $20 billion---nor should we. We need to show a will- ingness to accept change at the Postal Service and help the postmaster general and his team implement a reasonable plan for reform." Public support Days after the Senate hearing, the Postal Service released the results of a survey which it said indicates that 80 percent of Americans support the new five-day schedule. "The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports this new deliv- ery schedule as a prudent, responsible and reasonable approach to address our urgent financial situation," Donahoe said in a statement. The USPS-commissioned survey, con- ducted by the market research firm Ipsos, surveyed 1,002 U.S. residents age 18 and older between Feb. 8 and Feb. 11. The Postal Service said the survey results indicate "consistently high support for the new six-day package, five-day mail deliv- ery schedule among urban, suburban, and rural communities as well as among all age groups and income levels." USPS said support of the new schedule rose to 85 percent among all respondents when asked if they would support schedule if it helped stabilize the financial situation of the Postal Service. USPS said previously con- ducted market research showed that about 70 percent supported the switch to five-day delivery if it helped the Postal Service reduce costs and become financially stable. To see the survey, go to: http://about.usps. com/news/national-releases/2013/ipsos-sat- urday-delivery-poll-results-130214.pdf. To see Donahoe's testimony, go to: www.hsgac. senate.gov/hearings/solutions-to-the-crisis- facing-the-us-postal-service/. Groups pan pay-freeze bill Federal employee groups blasted this month's House vote to continue the federal civilian pay freeze through the rest of 2013. The pay-freeze bill (H.R. 273), the first piece of legislation from freshman Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), passed Feb. 15 by a vote of 261-154. The bill would cancel an executive order President Obama issued in December that grants civilian federal employees a 0.5 percent raise in late March. The bill stands less chance of clearing the Senate. After the vote, National Federation of Federal Employees National President William R. Dougan issued a statement call- ing the vote "politics at its worst." "Rather than approve a modest 0.5 per- cent pay adjustment for millions of mid- dle-class federal employees, the House chose to make a cheap political statement," Dougan said. "This vote was not about controlling spending. After two years of frozen pay, slashed budgets, and increased pension costs, it was about delivering critical relief to our federal workers. By every measure, Congress failed to deliver on that today." American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. was equally critical. "The message from these House mem- bers is loud and clear: we don't value the work that you do, and we think you should continue to be picked on because we oppose the services you provide to the American people," he said in a statement. "This vote sends an extremely insulting and hostile message to the VA nursing assistant who makes $27,000 a year, to the USDA meat inspector who earns $32,000 a year, to the federal penitentiary correc- tional officer who earns less than $39,000 a year," Cox said. Cox took aim instead at high contractor salaries, and called for capping them at $200,000 a year, which he said "would save taxpayers at least $5 billion every year, or $50 billion over 10 years." Joseph A. Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, called the House vote "incomprehensible and disappointing." "Despite the opinion of many in Congress, federal families have not been immune to the consequences of the reces- sion," Beaudoin said in a statement. "These middle-class families have seen diminish- continued from page 3 continued on page 5
Feb. 18, 2013
March 4, 2013