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There is Plenty of Proposed Legislation Affecting Letter Carriers-And All of It Sucks!

By Eric Ellis, CSALC District 4 Officer

While most Americans are riveted on the freak show we know as the Trump White House and its proposals to build a wall along our southern border and engage in inaugural crowd size denial, federal and postal employees will start to feel the big hands of the Donald when it comes to making a decent living. We have all heard by now of his imposition of a hiring freeze on federal employment. While we don’t know as of right now if such an action will impact us, those who have worked through a freeze know all too well that they don’t work. Morale suffers, employees don’t get promoted to career status, people are forced to work overtime, etc.

Consider the following proposals floating about:

1) The elimination of official time, or in other words, stewards would be banned from processing grievances on the clock. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) is responsible for this little beauty and the next, namely;

2) No union representation for new employees, or in other words, a steward could not represent a new employee if he or she is disciplined. For current employees, don’t think you are safe, either, because the same proposal would allow a political appointee to fire or discipline any employee at will.

3) Make the A-76 memo official policy, which is to say, identify functions that could be provided by the private sector and privatize them.

4) Adopt the Holman Rule. With this, Congress would identify an agency or department it dislikes and cut the salaries of employees working in said agencies or departments to one dollar a day.

5) Cut the earning rate of the G Fund to zero. Remember, when President Trump talks about getting a good deal negotiating with creditors, paying 85 percent on the dollar or less, he is talking about you and me, not China or Japan. Why do I say that? Most of America’s debt is owed to American citizens, not to foreign creditors.

6) Change the Consumer Price Index to a chained CPI, which would result in a Social Security/pension cut of at least 3 percent by 2033.

7) Raise the full Social Security retirement age from 67 to 69 for those born after 1968.

Now if you don’t think what I just mentioned is scary enough, consider the following proposals from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s so-called Path to Prosperity:

8) Eliminate defined pensions for new career employees, replacing them with a defined contribution plan. So, if current employees who retire at age 57 with 30 years of career service under the Federal Employees Retirement System get a defined pension plus the special retirement supplement until age 62 (when Social Security takes the place of the supplement), which translates to roughly $2000 a month, they would receive approximately $120,000 in total over those five years, give or take. Elimination of defined pensions takes that away, not to mention the loss of the defined pension part after turning 62. So, in other words, the elimination of the defined pension would force the affected employee to work until he or she accumulated enough in the Thrift Savings Plan to live on, probably around a million dollars. Good luck with that!

9) Raise FERS retirement contributions to 6.5 percent of your base salary. If you were hired as a career employee prior to 2013, you pay 0.8 percent toward your pension per pay period, or roughly $20. Paying 6.5% would raise that amount to roughly $150 per pay period, a pay cut of $130 every two weeks with translates to a pay cut of roughly $300 per month, taking into account the two months per year we are paid three times.

10) Increase amount postal employees pay for health insurance to mirror what other federal employees pay. To illustrate, examine the back of your health insurance brochure under 2017 Rate Information. If you have self and family under the NALC plan, you pay $139.35 per pay period. If Speaker Ryan has his way, you would pay $167.89 per pay period. That is a pay cut of over $60 a month, folks.

I’m sorry if I damped your excitement about the whopping $1000 a year tax cut Speaker Ryan’s plan promised the middle class, but it should be obvious to anyone with half a brain that his Path to Prosperity wasn’t written for the benefit of letter carriers and other federal employees, not to mention the other anti-union proposals I mentioned. Would a $4000 a year pay cut affect your standard of living? If you’re a new employee, how do you feel about not having a pension? Building a wall doesn’t seem so important, now does it?

If you are a letter carrier and you care about what I wrote about in this article (if you say you don’t you are a liar), please at the very least call your elected federal representatives when your eActivist notifications ask you to. We may not be able to stop all the aforementioned proposals from becoming law, but I think with all of us pulling together we can limit the damage. At least enough to keep us from the poorhouse.