Postal Service’s retiree obligations can’t be wished away

I got a press release from ColorOfChange.org today that has me puzzled.

The group, calling itself the nation’s largest online civil rights organization, is upset that people are piling on the U.S. Postal Service.

According to the press release, the service’s financial crisis is “manufactured by Congress and the media.” The service would be turning a profit if not for the onerous requirement government imposed on it to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years into the future.

The group turns this into a real Republican vs. Democrat issue, with Republicans cast as “cheering” the recent move to eliminate Saturday delivery.

Well … a lot of Republicans may be backing the Saturday cut and pushing to privatize, but Democrats have been critical of the service, as well. Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware has called the Saturday plan inadequate to solve the Postal Service’s problems. He chairs the committee that oversees the service. (Click here to read story.)

Also, ColorOfChange clearly misunderstands the reasons why Congress in 2006 required the Postal Service to begin prepaying retiree health benefits, which it casts as a Bush administration move that is burdensome.

The requirement wasn’t to punish the agency or make it do something unreasonable. It was to make it come to terms with a real expense — retiree health care — that it hadn’t funded for decades.

This Bloomberg opinion piece by Josh Barro last summer explains the situation well. Private companies treat the accrual of retirement health care liabilities as a cost. Most government agencies do not, although they report them as a liability. But not treating them as a cost does not mean they are not, indeed, a cost.

In the old days, the Postal Service would pay for its retiree’s health benefits on a pay-as-you-go basis. Barro wrote, “Because the cost of actually providing health care to retirees in a given year is less than the value of benefits current workers are accruing, that meant the post office was understating the cost of retiree health care.”

The promise of providing that health care is a debt, a promissory note, which must be paid one way or another. If the Postal Service is sold and privatized, either the buyer would have to pay it, or taxpayers would take the hit when the cost of the sale was reduced by the outstanding amount owed.

Or Congress could vote to pull the promised benefit out from under postal service workers, which would create other huge problems.

But the obligation can’t simply be wished away.

So what is it ColorOfChange.org would like to do? Its main concern seems to be the loss of jobs, particularly those of black women, should the service be drastically curtailed. That is a legitimate concern.

But so are the promised health benefits of those women, and others, once they retire.

And, contrary to what the group believes, the Postal Service cannot survive long without making itself much smaller.

Yes, Congress deserves a lot of blame, but not for making the Postal Service pay its obligations to retirees. It deserves blame for not giving the service the freedom it needs to deal with its problems. One of the ways to deal with that is to cut its days of service and reduce its workforce even further.

That’s a harsh reality. When it comes to dollars and cents and a changing industry, there unfortunately aren’t a lot of great ways to alleviate harshness.

Categories: Washington

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

40 comments

  1. SMack

    It is a real cost and an obligation, The real concern is that the amount is unreasonable. To prefund 75 years worth of obligated expenses over the period of 10 years is unreasonable and unheard of in the rest of the corporate private & public sectors. It is bankrupting the Service. It is a flawed obligation as the beneficiaries of the obligation haven’t even been BORN, much less hired. I can’t see into the future, but if the service is cutting jobs, then it would seem that the obligation would diminish some as the cost basis drops. The service is not requesting to eliminate the payment, merely to restructure it to follow common practice, & spread it out over 40 years.

  2. oldbill

    Using Generally Accepted Accounting Principals, the problem with the retirement funding is that there isn’t any. The current retirees rely on payments from current income of the Post Office to pay for both pensions and healthcare insurance. This includes retirees of all unions and management and both Civil Service and those receiving “annuities”. The huge pre-payments required by Congress weren’t pre-payments at all. If you believe that there is a “Postal Retiree Trust Fund”, ask to see the annual reports, including Assets, Liabilities, Retiree Fund Ownership, and Cash Flow. Like the Social Security Trust Fund, there is nothing there. The Post Office is operating off of a pay-as-you-go retirement system with fewer employees earning less and less.

    • Tigerr

      Hey Old Bill, if the postal service just use current income from the P.O. to fund retirements, then where does my money go that’s taken out of my check for retirement? The public actually believes tax money is used for OUR retirement, when in fact we have a retirement fund that WE fund ourselves!

    • Mark Jamison

      Only half right OldBill. The retiree healthcare is currently paid for out of current revenues although the Postal Service has turned $44 billion over to the Treasury to fund the RHBF. Both CSRS and FERS pensions are fully funded. OPM maintains separate accounts for the agency and continually reviews the actuarial liability. The fund consists of T-Bills and is real. Your argument may be that T-Bills are not a reliable investment or that they’re not worth face value but that’s an argument any pension fund faces with any investment.
      The accounting for postal pensions is done differently than any other agency.

    • MrZip

      Oldbill, This article, as I read it, is only talking about the health care “pre-funding.” The other retirement funding hasn’t changed, whether it be “pay as you go” or pre-funded. How can you claim that they aren’t pre-payments when the some of the people who will be collecting in 75 years aren’t even born yet?

    • Bill Roland

      There is a fund held in US Treasury that has $45 billion now in it. The difference between what the postal service was required to do and what most business do is that the Postal Service actually had to pay cash into this fund while most businesses just book the expenseand liability but don’t actually fund anything in advance.

  3. Jaylee

    If you believe it is necessary for the USPS to fund its retirees 75 years in advance, then what do you have to say about the retirement funding for the remaining govt agencies and our military? Do u also believe these agencies should be required to prefund 75 years in advance, in a 10 year time frame? If they can not, then lets privatize all of our govt agencies and our military?? Better yet, how about we give you personally a mandate that you must fund your retirement, yet you must do it with in 10 years.

  4. bob

    No other agency has to pre-fund future retiree health benefits for 75 years into the future and have to do it in 10. This along with the fact that the postal service is just that a service to the public. This service is required to break even. Can’t raise rates to cover this pre-fund requirement because the same entity that created this manufactured crisis meant to bust unions and destroy the institution also controls that. No other government agency has this requirement including congress. The postal service already has over 40 billion in this account and independent audits have shown the intrest alone in this account would cover the cost before it is needed. This is absolutely a right wing attack on government service and the unions that have worked hand and hand to reduce cost and increase production.

  5. Stealth fighter

    This is a ridiculous article. It’s a fact that the intent of the prefunding was to damage the postal service. Why doesn’t every other government agency have to prefund their retiree health benefits at the same rate? This crisis will be blamed on GOP as they are the ones blocking bills in the house.

  6. Barry Painter

    The article fails to mention that Sen Carper is one of the group who created and enacted the Postal Reform of 2006 which he promised then would fix things by imposing upon the Postal Service a payment plan of approx $5 billion that most knew couldn’t be paid and accounts for the majority of Postal Debt to date. Also the article omits the fact that “NO OTHER” Government Agency or Congressional Pension or Health Care plan is “pre-funded” by Carper or any other politician imposing on Congress to come up with multi-billions of dollars of annual payments into accounts that Congress can’t touch. Same old “smoke and mirrors”. Now if we really want to do something about unfunded liabilities and entitlement in this country lets return Congress member to the original salary and benefit plan back in the days when it was called “public service”. From 1789 to 1855, members of Congress received only a per diem (daily payment) of $6.00 while in session, except for a period from December 1815 to March 1817. Imagine a Congress actually paid per day the worked? Congress was never intended to be a Career. Take Congress out of the pension and benefit game and “things will roll down hill” (no pun intended) addressing all others.

  7. Tigerr

    It seems to me the wrighter here makes a small point about the postal service not using a fund for health care, very small in my opinion. He refers to retirees health care as if it were the same situtation for everyone in the past, not mentioning the fact that under the civil service retirement system provided NO health care funds, it was up to the retiree to pay the entire health insurence premium! Under the federal employee retirement system, there just aren’t that many retirees in the system yet, it didn’t become operational until the mid 80′s and just wasn’t a priority to any part of the government until now. I see this article as just another right-wing attempt at killing the postal service by spreading half truths to the public. And what this auther doesn’t state is that we (postal employees) pay the majority of our health insurance premiums in retirement, the P.O. just pays a portion of it.

  8. Postalwookie

    As a Letter Carrier, I do not disagree that it is a good idea to have money in a fund to cover my healthcare when I retire. However, when you are asking the Post Office to ESTIMATE how many employees it will hire over the next 75 years and then put back money to cover those cost is simply ridiculous. Why not simply call for a full funding for each employee as they finish their probationary period and become career employees instead of funding for people you haven’t hired. Additionally, as for shrinking our current workforce, we currently have half as many employees working the same amount of mail as we previously had. The concept of simply hiring temporary workers at lower wages with no benefits is a push to make the Post Office a profit driven entity instead of what it is intended to be – A SERVICE to the American Public. Many Government agencies are exactly that, a service. Is the National Parks Service required to turn a profit? This attempt to privatize the Postal Service will only serve to drive up cost,lower the quality of service and contribute to the slow demise of the U.S. Governments’ most trusted agency.

  9. Truthuness

    This is one of the worst articles I have read on the postal service’s problems, to call it a fluff piece would be an insult to fluff pieces. No one is saying the postal service should not be responsible and set aside money for future retiree health care costs. It’s the idea of doing 75 years woth of costs in TEN YEARS that is the issue, the writer completely ignores this unnecessary and damaging part of the PAEA Act. Also, no other government agency does this, and the other agencies have unfunded liabilities too. Why is the writer just talikng about the post office when there are literally dozens of agencies with unfunded liabilities as well. Oh yeah, I forgot, the government is not required to make money and operate as a business, JUST THE POST OFFICE…terrible article…

    • MrZip

      RacerRay, The USPS is being required to do this, because its the ONLY federal agency that doesn’t fund itself with taxpayer money. The other federal agencies will pay for retiree health care costs using the taxes collected at the time it is needed. I agree, that the way its being done is unreasonable.

  10. Jeffrey Simmons

    Jay, after you received this press release, did you bother to do ANY research? The USPS funds their retirement systems, CSRS and FERS, in excess of 100%. The Fortune 500 gold standard is 80%. Their retiree health system, PSRHB, has been funded @100% through 2081 over a period of 10 years starting back in 2006 when PAEA was passed by Congress. No one else in the world does this.

    The USPS has eliminated over 40% of its staffing, primarily craft positions and not management, since 2000. This equates to over 350,000 good paying jobs lost. How many more would you suggest they eliminate? This is astonishing when you consider that they operate in the black and are incapable of showing a real profit only due to Congressional mandate.

    Where is all this money? Much of it has been diverted into the US Treasury for the government to use as its own private windfall. These are all postal monies from the sale of postage and postal products as they have received no tax monies for over 30 years. No business could operate under these constraints by a government which doesn’t prefund its retiree health benefits at all and funds its own retirement systems at only 30%, all with YOUR tax money.

    PSRHB prefunding can stop now. It is not necessary to continue to fund for possible future employees who haven’t even been born yet and a postal service which may no longer even exist by 2081. There is enough money currently in the fund for all current retirees and all those currently employed by the USPS. Within 20 years, it will be fully funded through 2081 via interest accrual alone.

    Do this and set the CSRS/FERS funding levels at 80% and you’ve solved the congressionally mandated USPS financial ‘crisis’ overnight. All without eliminating another job or cutting service to the American people for whom they exist and are constitutionally mandated to serve. After this, the next step would be to recover over $300 billion the government has illegally siphoned from postal profits. This money diverted into the US Treasury amounts to a hidden tax every time you pay for postage or buy postal products.

    Lastly, I guess it’s easy when it’s someone else. The USPS currently has two remote encoding (REC) sites. This is down from 55 a mere 15 years ago. While due to increasing technology, this does not change the impact to 1000’s of postal employees who have been and are being affected by these closures. The one in Wichita will be closing by the end of September. 380 of the 797 employees will outright lose their jobs. The rest will be placed into open positions within the postal service, most likely nowhere near Wichita. I suspect many will end up working at the nation’s final REC site in Salt Lake City… Imagine that.

  11. Tough Love

    Quoting … “Or Congress could vote to pull the promised benefit out from under postal service workers, which would create other huge problems. But the obligation can’t simply be wished away.”

    Whoa … are those HUGE problems you speak of any smaller for Private Sector workers ? Retiree healthcare promises given to Private Sector workers were “wished away” a LONG time ago, an option their employers legally had and exercised. Well 85% of all workers are Private Sector worker-taxpayers w/o this VERY expensive benefit. So please tell me why THEIR taxes should pay for this benefit for Public Sector workers when they do not get it.

    YES, Public Sector retiree healthcare benefits (beyond Medicare) can and SHOULD be eliminated. Either we ALL get it or none.

    Public Sector workers are NOT “special” on OUR dime !

    • Liam Skye

      USPS postal operations, including the salaries and benefits of its employees, are not funded by taxpayers. They are funded by postage sales.

      • Tough Love

        You missed the point …. The USPS revenue is woefully insufficient to pay for the promised retiree healthcare benefits (which is the reason for the HUGE ongoing financial problems). Hence, if those promises ARE to be met it will be met by Taxpayers … which is unjust to the Private Sector taxpayers who do NOT get such benefits.

        If the USPS cannot fully demonstrate that it has sufficient “stamp” revenue to meet the full cost of these promised benefits AS THEY ARE ACCRUED (as well as continuing to amortize past unfunded accruals over a short period of time)… their retiree healthcare must be eliminated.

      • Liam Skye

        Tough Love: USPS has been paying its retiree health benefit costs out of current revenues for 42 years with no problem whatsoever, so I don;t know where you get this notion that it can;t afford to do so. No private sector company is required to prefund this benefit (if they offer it) at all. Many do because they don’t want to show the entire liability as unfunded. Those that do prefund do so at around 30%. USPS is uniquely required by law to prefund at 100% and has currently built up a fund of around $48 billion, which is around 50% of the current net liability – a position unmatched by any Fortune 1000 company or any federal agency or the military.

        If you really believe that it is critical that USPS prefund this liability at 100%, do you not also believe that it is even more critical that the federal government prefund its (much larger) liability that is currently prefunded at 0%?

      • Tough Love

        Liam, To be blunt, you are just wrong. While the USPS has been paying the healthcare claims of it’s retirees on a pay-as-you-go basis for decades, until Congress forced the issue a few years ago, it was NOT funding the “promise” of lifetime healthcare as annually “EARNED AND ACCRUED”, a MUCH larger figure than just the amount paid out in claims each year.

        And where do I “…get this notion that it can’t afford to do so.” Directly from the USPS Postmaster General who has clearly said that the USPS does not generate sufficient revenue to pre-fund retiree healthcare.

        And by the way, VERY VERY few Private Sector companies offer any (certainly any material) retiree healthcare subsidy any longer, and the few that promise any such benefits have long had to report the value on their balance sheets.

        The best answer is that is should be rapidly phased out for ALL Public Sector workers.

        And don’t try to make “pre-funding” into a monster that it’s not. Pre-funding a benefit like retiree healthcare simply means that you need to set aside sufficient funds annually such that together with investment earnings on those funds, it will grow to an amount sufficient at the time of the employee’s retirement such that together will additional investment earned on the remaining fund assets even after the employee’s retirement that the fund is sufficient to pay for all of the employees expected (insured) healthcare expenses ….. NOT leaving a shortfall for the Taxpayers to pick up.

        What your REAL (wrongheaded) argument is …. “well, no other branch of the Federal Gov’t is required to pre-fund retiree healthcare, so why should we?”

        Well, while you have a point there, that point is NOT that the USPS shouldn’t be required to fund it, but that perhaps the Taxpayers need to be asking why ANY Federal employees get this so expensive and so hard to fund benefit that so FEW private sector workers get.

    • MrZip

      Yes they are! But, as far as the USPS is concerned, it would be more accurate to say..Your 46¢. It’s the only part of the public sector that doesn’t use your taxes.

    • Rich

      In 2001 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) put the Postal Service on its list of “high-risk” programs because of rising financial pressures resulting from exploding demand from both the residential and commercial sectors. A year later the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) found the Postal Service had been significantly overpaying into its retirement fund. It seemed a simple matter to reduce future payments and tap into the existing surplus to pay for current expenses.

      In late 2002, the CBO announced that a change in the retirement contribution formula could increase unified budget deficits by as much as $41 billion, about $3.5 billion a year. If the overpayments were used to delay future rate increases, the CBO added, future government receipts would decline, adding to the unified budget deficit.

      To overcome the budget scoring objections Congress began what in retrospect we can see was little more than an exercise in rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. The final law allowed the Postal Service to use its overpayments to pay off its debt and delay increasing rates for three years. After that, any overpayments were to be collected in an escrow fund that would be unavailable to the Post Office until Congress determined how the funds would be used. And then came the quid pro quo. The Postal Service became responsible for paying postal workers for the time they spent in prior military service. Up until then, as one might expect, these obligations were paid by the U.S. Treasury. Assuming that obligation essentially eliminated any Post Office surplus during the 10-year scoring window.

      The House and Senate held 11 hearings on postal reform between 2003 and 2006. Sen. Susan Collins, Chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee commented, “two issues … united every single witness who has testified before our committee … a desire to see the escrow account repealed and the return of the military pension obligation to the Treasury Department.”

      Bills to this effect were well received in Congress. But again and again the OMB and CBO stepped in to thwart policy makers. In 2004, as the bills were moving rapidly through Congress the Bush administration stopped its progress by announcing its opposition, justified by the impact on the unified budget. The next year, on the day a highly bipartisan bill was brought to the floor of the House, the administration again threatened a veto because of its “adverse impact on the Federal budget.” Congress backed down.

      In 2006 Congress finally passed a new law. The Postal Service was allowed to tap into escrow money and pension obligations for military service were shifted back to the U.S. Treasury. But again a quid pro quo was required that negated any financial benefits that would result. To achieve unified budget neutrality the USPS was required to make 10 annual payments of between $5.4 billion and $5.8 billion each to the newly created Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund. The fund could not be tapped to pay actual retiree health benefits during those 10 years.

      The level of the annual payments was not based on any actuarial determination. The numbers were produced by CBO as the amounts necessary to offset the loss of the escrow payments.

      Remember, this all began because the post office discovered it had surplus funds. Unified budget accounting made sure it could never tap into this surplus unless at the same time it assumed new liabilities of an equal magnitude.

    • Liam Skye

      Tough Love: You don;t know what you are talking about. USPS does not and has not paid health care claims for its retirees. They participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan and the payments are premiums for health insurance. When USPS was formed in 1971 it was required, in accordance with private sector best practice, to fund the premiums for retirees out of current revenues. As you point out, the total current value of the liability was not prefunded – that is the only point you got right.

      You comprehend the written word quite poorly. When I stated clearly that USPS has no difficulty funding the retiree health premiums out of current revenues, you attempted to rebut it by pointing out that the Postmaster General said USPS could not afford to prefund the liability. Are you not familiar enough with the issue to know that USPS funds the current premiums out of current expenses, has done so for 42 years, and continues to do so even while prefunding the liability? Understanding that is central to understanding this issue.

      Your claim that “And by the way, VERY VERY few Private Sector companies offer any (certainly any material) retiree healthcare subsidy any longer, and the few that promise any such benefits have long had to report the value on their balance sheets.” Is a howler. Around 25% of Fortune 1000 companies offer that benefit. Again you don’t seem to grasp the salient point: Everybody is now required to REPORT the liability but NOBODY BESIDES USPS has to prefund it at 100%. Is that clear enough for you? USPS has currently prefunded the liability at around 50% – far better than any Fortune 1000 company.

      Read the article at this link and you will have a better understanding of the issue: http://www.uspsoig.gov/foia_files/FT-MA-12-002 dot pdf – change the “dot” to “.” and get rid of the spaces.

      I don’t think you are deliberately misstating my position when you write “What your REAL (wrongheaded) argument is …. “well, no other branch of the Federal Gov’t is required to pre-fund retiree healthcare, so why should we?”” so I will just clarify my position. I believe that the level of prefunding is sufficient to change the outrageous funding schedule to something more reasonable. In fact, the retiree health benefit fund will reach 100% of the current net value of its liability is less than 25 years on interest alone – so USPS can continue to pay current costs out of current revenues as it has done and continues to do.

      You reveal the underlying belief that public employees don’t deserve this benefit and taxpayers should be resisting the offering of it. Fair enough, but once again, you fail to make a point because USPS is not funded by the taxpayers and the benefits received by postal employees do not affect them in any way.

  12. nick

    jay everson, like his colleagues at fox news only states half the facts. the barros piece doesn’t mention why congress initiated the P.A.E.A . in the first place. the cost of military credits to the USPS was 27 billion and bush wasn’t about to give 27 billion back when he had 2 wars going and tax breaks for the country that went unpaid. i do agree that cuts need to be made and the first cut should be in management. there are to many managers drawing big salaries.

  13. TRUTH

    Tough Love no one missed the point. The idea of prefunding health care 75 yeras out was created by Congress. I agree with the premsie but the time constraint of 10 years is whats hindering USPS cash flow. The writer of the article has little to no research onthis issue. With respect to the public/ private sector benifits; the private scetor also receives items the public sector will never. USPS retirment,CSRS or FERS, is alreday funded. The USPS recives no tax payer funds and is not looking to be part of the govt budgeting process.

  14. Gary Banlowe

    What congress doesn’t seem to understand is, when a country or an employer takes your money and makes promises for benefits, in many cases, you are forced to contribute to, it needs to live up to and fulfill those promises. It’s called INTEGRITY, a word that seems to be forgotten about in this day and age.

  15. Mark Jamison

    No dispute on the need to properly account for and fund future liabilities. There is an argument as to what degree and what timetable you use. The RHBF funding is being done on a vastly accelerated timetable which makes the funding quite onerous. The two pension funds FERS and CSRS are actually over funded. Standard practice would be to fund these at a level of around 80%. The issue really is the use of the Postal Service as a cash cow.
    There’s a couple of other related issues that belong in this discussion. First, the Postal Service also is required to prefund future workman’s compensation liabilities at a rate and at levels which, again, result in excessive transfers to the Treasury.
    And then there’s the biggest issue of all, the fact that postal retirees, as well as all Federal retirees, are not required to use Medicare as the primary payer when they reach eligibility. Under FEHB, retirees will us Part A but they don’t have to sign up for Pert B which would then make their retiree insurance a supplemental policy.
    Federal employees and their agencies make full Medicare contributions so this really is a big deal. By some estimates the retiree health benefit issue pretty much goes away if this small change were made.
    Reporting on this without looking at how and why these artifices were created under PAEA really does miss the point. The legislative record is very clear; the Bush Administration insisted on the RHBF funding mechanism primarily as a budget scoring tool. Things were done the way they were not with providing for the future liability as a first priority but as a way of masking other budget deficits and some would argue, based on discussions at the time, for the sole purpose of bringing the Postal Service to crisis.

  16. MrZip

    Here’s MY OPINION about the Postal Enhancement Act of 2006, why it was done and why they haven’t reconfigured it.

    1) Congress has been trying to get money from the USPS for decades.
    2) In 2006, the USPS was making a profit (they’re supposed to break even)
    3) The national deficit was out of control (and still is)
    4) They passed the bill and then factored that money into the deficit (reducing it)
    5) Now, if they restructure it or give it back, it will raise the deficit (or to be correct, under current rules they will have to cut spending somewhere else)

    The deficit is the underlying problem. Congress doesn’t “give a tinker’s cus” about the USPS retirees or the USPS’ financial situation. If they had kept the money in a separate account, to be used ONLY for USPS retiree health care costs, there would be very little problem restructuring it to make it reasonable.

    Just my 2¢

  17. Jason

    Um, Barack Obama is black last time I checked. Isn’t he black enough for everyone? Does he not care about these black women who will lose these jobs supposedly? He also wants 5-day.

    When I started at The USPS we had about 800,000 people. Now it’s like 525,000. The mail itself is disintergrating. Before I retired in 2009 I was getting done hours early and coming back for more mail.

    When jobs disappear EVERYONE suffers. We can’t play the race card just because we don’t get our way. I LONG for the days when The USPS was sprawling in record profits, but times have changed. We will always need 5 day mail, 6 day package delivery but no more than that.

    That article also alleges that Social Security checks will be delayed… even though the law says soon they must all be direct deposit. Food stamps are also electronic. Most welfare and disability payments are too. This is just a sad attempt to gin up racial hatred to protect bloated jobs.

    Oh, and by the way, as a retired carrier I noticed that press release also forgot to mention that many carriers make tens of thousands in OT because their friends strategically call in sick to bring them in for 8 HOURS of OT on their off-day. How fair is that to black people or anyone else waiting for a job?

  18. Rich

    According to the June 18, 2012 report on Pension and Retiree Health Care Funding Levels by the Office of Inspector General:

    The Postal Service has funded its pension benefit obligations at nearly 105 percent and is currently overfunded by $12.48 billion. Furthermore, the Postal Service is required to fully fund its FUTURE retiree health care benefit obligations. Currently, the Postal Service has funded nearly 50 percent of that obligation.

    The Inspector General, David C. Williams, said “that the fund is in better shape than comparable funds in any other government agency or private-sector business.”

    “Prefunding retiree healthcare is rare in the public and private sectors,” wrote the Inspector General. “We have been unable to locate any organization, either public or private, that has anything similar to the Postal Service’s required level of prefunding of retiree health benefits. The Postal Service is currently funded at 50 percent of its estimated current liability. The federal government DOES NOT prefund its retiree health benefits at all, and the military is funded at a 35 percent level. Only 38 percent of Fortune 1000 companies who offer retiree health care benefits prefund the expense at all, and the median funding level for those organizations is 37 percent.”

    The irony of Congress continuing to insist on pre-funding is that the Postal Service already has funded nearly 50 percent of the FUTURE retiree health benefits obligation ($47 billion of the $90.3 billion future obligation), more than any company in America and enough for decades into the future. That probably is enough to stop all the payments and just let the interest do the work of building up the fund. One last point about the retiree health care fund. Even though there’s plenty of money in the fund, the premiums for CURRENT retirees continue to be paid on a “pay as you go” model like the rest of the federal government and that amount is included in the regular operating expenses.

  19. Eddie g

    How can you write a story on all the misinformation put out by the usps and those who want postal service to fail

  20. Frankie D

    The crazy notion that the citizens of all the US, including remote outposts in Utah, are entitled to a US postal SERVICE, is outdated. This is the internet age, where you can have 9000 online ‘friends’ and do your banking and bill paying online (that is, until some teenager in the Ukraine hacks into your bank account). The postal service has no place in the digital age, except for delivery of all the stuff that people order online. But that could be handled by private for-profit companies like FEDEX and UPS at, perhaps, a nominal increase in costs. But, do not expect FEDEX and UPS to deliver these packages to remote locations in places like, say, Deseret, Utah. Why, that’s just not profitable! Right now, they just hand off the non-profitable packages to USPS for ‘the final mile’ of delivery. USPS is obligated to deliver anywhere, that’s why they’re losing money. Oh, and that’s also why it’s called a service: to all citizens in every town in the entire United States. But we’ll think of that problem when USPS is demolished.

    • Frankie,

      Appreciate the comment. Just to clarify one point, the Deseret News is not in remote “Deseret,” Utah. We are a major daily paper in Salt Lake City, with a metro population of more than 2 million.

  21. Pete

    Mr.Evensen , I’m curious as to why you didn’t comment on “input” from others like Mark Jamison or Jeffrey Simmons both of whom actually challenge points made in your commentary. Instead you respond to a poster who seems to have insulted your feelings by misstating a fact about the size of your community. Just imagine how people who support the USPS feel when they see you repeating misinformation about the place they work.

  22. val nostdahl

    background information for research purposes, amazon.com ( search inside this book ) or free goggle.books to read, The Post office, its past record, its present condition and its potential relation to the new world era, Daniel Calhoun Roper, chairperson of the United States Tariff Commision and First Assistant Post Master General, 1913-1917. In this era collective bargaining was formed, for postal workers who marched enmasse on dc, since the congress was ignoring the working condiitons of postal workers, In 1935 the right to unionize was formed with labor protectiong laws ensuing, including the fairlabor standards act, of 40 hour workweek, minumn wage, social security, health care, medicare, medicade, retirement benifits. In 1970 the USPO workers, had a nation wide strike due to congress ignorning the plight of postal workers, who many were working 3 jobs to survive, and or on welfare while working for the USPO, the strike effectively shut down the mails, following that the right to collective bargaining was re enforced, the no stike law for unionzied postal workers came about and the USPO was changed in to the USPS, control of the USPO was changed from the President cabinet, and many do not know that the US Labor Department is management over the USPS, ironcialy they protect health and safety on the job. In 2000, 2001 according to Nalc legislative fact sheet of 2003, postal emplyee had taken cuts in pay , health benifits and retirement benifits from 1970 until 2000 worth about 200 billion, then they were forced to pay in an extra 15 percent under the 1997 budget reconcilation act, both the President and Congress thanked the postal workers for their sacrifice, while others were getting tax cuts, they got tax increases from their taxpaying checks, in turn the legislation was removed from the Presidents budget in 2002, then new postal legislation began. In 2003 congress was informed of the overpayment or overfunding of retirement system for postal workers, fers was overfunded by 15 billion or paid in full and overpaid, federal employee retirement system, civil service retirment system or csrs was over paid or paid in full and over, by 140 billion ( see postal comments to the federal trade commision , august 6, 2007, oig report , federal budget treatment of usps, 2009) then in 2006 the postal accountibility and enhacement act was created to make a 3rd retirement system that no other federal agency or business in America has to have , since in 2006 was a high profit year for the USPS by postal workers helping to earn these profits. In return the PAEA gave pay per performance bonues for those at the top of the USPS executive level, pmg potter recieved a 72 thousand dollar raise, due to the paea, as did 12 others, he also doubled his salary from having a cap below the vice presidents to double of what the President makes a year and retired in 2010 with 5.5 million ( anually it is belived) meanwhile due to having too much money in retirement for postal employees , and now a 3rd escrow account standing at 47 billion, the pmg began to close post offices, reduce staff due to non replacment of attrition or retirees within the postal system for craft level union letter carriers, postal clerks and rural route assiociations. Here are the links for postal information and reasearch : AWPU 3800 , first area tricounty local, PA, library, stess in the workplace artical, ‘ How the ongoing violation of the USPS guiding principles are creating a toxic work environment, dr stephen muscaral articals. http://www.billburrasjounral.org- misc page, artical ‘phoney excuses for diverting usps revenues, and myths versus facts.’ search for ALEC/KOCH Cabal The Privitization of USPS for Ups and FedEx, bob sloan, vlpt.net, april 2013, Examiner.com, Tim McCown, june 2012, artical’ behind all the schemes and lies of the privitization of USPS. Michingan American Postal Workers Union, artical , the truth about the postal crisis, http://www.savethepostoffice.com, USPS widows on facebook.

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