“They haven’t been trying to hire, fill a lot of positions because we were constantly defaulting on loans.”
Congress has passed a bill to help shore up the U.S. Postal Service, and it’s now on to President Joe Biden for a signature.
Amid mail slowdowns, the bill puts six-day-a-week delivery into law, and eliminates a burdensome budgeting requirement.
Since 2006, the USPS has had to pre-fund its retiree health benefits, while other federal agencies have “pay-as-you-go” systems. Officials say eliminating the pre-funding requirement would open up more than $5 billion per year.
John Flattery, president of the American Postal Workers Union Central Mass Area Local, said it’s a great opportunity for the agency.
“We’ve been short staffed,” said Flattery. “They haven’t been trying to hire, fill a lot of positions because we were constantly defaulting on loans. So to have that requirement gone is huge.”
The bill also requires Postal Service retirees to enroll in Medicare, instead of keeping the federal employee health benefit plan. Flattery said Congress should keep an eye on whether that change increases costs for agency employees entering retirement.
Flattery added that although this is a good first step, service standards need improvements – especially with mail slowdowns that have occurred during the pandemic, and as Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has made changes.
“It disappointed me that we didn’t improve the service standard,” said Flattery. “Now they say, what used to be late is no longer late because we changed the definition of late. That’s what frustrates employees. I’ve been here 35 years.”
The bill would also allow the Postal Service to provide property and nonpostal services to other government agencies, or to partner with state, local or tribal governments to provide those services to the public – such as banking or selling hunting or fishing licenses or public transit passes.