One of the steps taken under the Trump administration to work on a solution to the US Post Office’s ongoing budget problems was to establish a task force to examine their entire system and suggest changes and improvements. Without receiving much fanfare, that report was released this week and it includes some intriguing proposals. I don’t think the workers at the Post Office are going to be too thrilled with them, however, because one of the first ones consists of basically gutting their labor union and removing their right to collectively bargain for compensation. (Government Executive)
President Trump’s postal reform task force recommended on Tuesday that the U.S. Postal Service eliminate the ability of employees to negotiate over compensation and develop a dual-tiered pricing model—one for essential services and another for deliveries deemed to have a profit motive.
Led by the Treasury Department, the task force completed its report and delivered recommendations to the White House in August. But the administration decided to keep the report’s findings secret until after last month’s midterm elections, and to delay implementation until a new Congress is installed in January.
Trump launched the task force, made up of officials at Treasury, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management, through an executive order in April in an effort to tackle the postal service’s perennial financial problems.
I’ll confess to being pleasantly surprised by this report because some of the changes closely mirror suggestions I’ve made here in the past. The two-tier pricing system, for example, is pretty much exactly what I’ve proposed several times. Leave personal letters and packages between individual consumers, bills and “essential mail” pretty much on the same price schedule they are now, but up the cost of bulk junk mail considerably. This would probably result in less junk in our mailboxes, a lower volume of mail for them to handle and higher profits from the mass mailers who continue to use their services.
As to the collective bargaining angle, I can see how the task force arrived at that conclusion. They’re saying that USPS workers are benefitting from the perks enjoyed by both government and private sector workers without any of the drawbacks. But it’s not really a problem of the postal workers earning too much money every year. It’s their massive and underfunded pension plans which are crushing them and will continue to do so into the future.
The proposals put forth in this report help on that front to a limited degree (such as prefunding lump-sum retirement payments) but they don’t address the larger problem. They can’t afford that pension system and it has to be changed, no matter how much their union howls about it.