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Be Engaged to Protect the Rights of EAS Employees
By Bob Levi
NAPS Director of Legislative & Political Affairs
January is named after the Roman god Janus—the mythical deity with two faces. One divine face looks forward, the other heavenly face looks backward. It’s important that one not begin a new year without taking stock of what happened or—just as importantly—did not happen during the previous year. This is looking back.
Moreover, we need to effectively chart a course for the upcoming 12 months. This is looking forward. From a legislative and political perspective, this goal will be extremely dicey, especially because the presidential and congressional elections will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
We begin the new year with the USPS Board of Governors enveloped in a search for a postmaster general to succeed retiring PMG Megan Brennan. Her last day at Postal Headquarters will be Jan. 31. The governors are undertaking the executive search with only five of the authorized nine presidentially nominated, Senate-confirmed governors. Four vacancies remain. It remains to be seen how much influence the White House will exercise over the board’s decision.
Although the PMG is not presidentially nominated, each of the current board members was nominated by President Trump. Three of the five members are Republican; three of the five are investment bankers. Hence, the skill set for the next PMG may be somewhat different than for the past three PMGs, all who emerged from postal careers.
The White House, through its Office of Management and Budget, has already expressed the preference for a march toward postal privatization. Consequently, NAPS and others in the postal world are anxious about PMG candidates who may emerge from the private sector, including postal competitors. For this reason, NAPS is working day and night to solidify and reinforce congressional support for a universal, accessible and innovative Postal Service.
NAPS legislative activists have been engaged in a fierce effort to grow support for key congressional resolutions and bills to demonstrate wide and deep support for the most popular federal agency and its employees. In the October issue of The Postal Supervisor magazine, we published a scorecard listing cosponsors of NAPS-supported legislation, by state.
I am happy to report that NAPS members have helped enlarge the number of cosponsors and secure a Senate companion bill for repealing the retiree health prefunding requirement. As we went to press, 257 members of the House have indicated their support for continuation of mail door delivery (H. Res. 23); 266 representatives and 53 senators favor preservation of the Postal Service as a government agency (H. Res. 33 and S. Res. 99); and 290 members of Congress desire continuing six-day mail delivery (H. Res. 54). In addition, 294 House members want to abolish the Postal Service’s requirement to prefund future retiree health coverage (H.R. 2382).
H. Res. 23, 33 and 54, along with S. Res. 99, are nonbinding congressional resolutions that express the “sense of” the House or the Senate. Nevertheless, the overwhelming support for the measures send a clear message to the White House, the Board of Governors and PMG candidates of the strong legislative support for key characteristics and expectations of the American postal system.
The awesome support for H.R. 2382 demonstrates congressional consensus that the 2006 congressionally imposed requirement to prefund retiree health benefits was unfair and financially harmful to the Postal Service. Inasmuch as the number of H.R. 2382 cosponsors has exceeded 290, which represents a two-thirds majority of the House, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) may offer a motion to place the bill on the House consensus calendar, meaning the bill could be considered for a floor vote in 25 days. Consequently, a floor vote could occur in January.
Finally, on Dec. 3, Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced S. 2965, a Senate companion to H.R. 2382. NAPS members should contact their senators and urge them to cosponsor and support S. 2965.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that even if H.R. 2382 and S. 2965 were to be enacted, there still would be a dire need for comprehensive postal legislation to address postal product pricing and innovation. Postal sustainability cannot be assured without such legislation.
As we begin 2020, NAPS is exploring congressional options to correct the inadequacies and inequities of the current pay consultation framework. While the pending federal lawsuit against the USPS seeks to correct past injustices, as documented by an independent Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service fact-finding-panel decision, congressional assistance is sought to prevent such injustices in future pay talks.
The three-pronged approach NAPS is pursuing with our elected officials is to assure that future pay talks are timely, transparent and fair. There need to be legitimacy and credibility in the process.
As we prepare for this year’s legislative battles, one of the best ways to be ready is by attending the Legislative Training Seminar, March 8-10. NAPS members must become completely engaged in order to produce legislative partners to protect and enhance the rights and earned benefits of its EAS employees and the future of the Postal Service itself.
In preparation for LTS and those unable to attend the three-day event, NAPS, as many have already discovered, provides a unique communications platform to inform NAPS members—NAPS Chat. The weekly podcast is available on the NAPS website’s Legislative tab. Now, NAPS members can subscribe to NAPS Chat through Apple iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor, Breaker, Radio Public and Overcast.