Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation to help the U.S. Postal Service regain its financial footing. “The 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2011″ would give the Postal Service the authority it needs to restructure, modernize, survive, and thrive. Senator Collins’ committee oversees the Postal Service.
According to the Envelope Manufacturing Association’s 2010 data, the U.S. mailing industry accounts for more than 37,000 jobs in Maine and over $4.6 million in sales revenue in the state.
A bipartisan group of senators announced Wednesday they had reached agreement on a compromise proposal to save the Postal Service from financial disaster and put it on the road toward financial stability. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Scott Brown, R-Mass., joined Senator Collins in unveiling the legislation. The bill was introduced this afternoon and it will be debated and considered in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee next week.
“The Postal Service literally won’t survive without legislative and administrative reforms,” said Senator Collins. “Absent action, it won’t be able to meet its payroll a year from now. The Postal Service is vital to our economy, yet is on the verge of collapse. It is in imminent financial danger. Jobs are at stake. The Postal Service is the linchpin of a $1.1 trillion mailing and mail-related industry that employs approximately 8.7 million Americans in fields as diverse as direct mail, printing, catalog companies, and paper manufacturing.
“We are asking the Postal Service to make painful choices about internal costs and not simply slash services and raise prices which would only add to its death spiral.”
The rescue legislation provides the Postal Service with the flexibility and tools it needs to restructure the way it meets its obligations to its customers and employees.
Key provisions of the bill would:
· Prohibit for two years the Postal Service’s plan to eliminate Saturday delivery. Five-day delivery could only be implemented after cost cutting reforms have been implemented and the savings still are not sufficient.
- 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.
- Recalibrate the pre-funding requirements for its retiree health benefits by amortizing those payments over time.
More details on the bill are available here.