March 2021 transcript of From The President's Desk

Posted by Frank Augustosky on 03/26/21

Welcome to the March 2021 edition of From the President’s Desk.  

Our hearts and our prayers go out to those that have been experiencing the severe weather in various parts of the country, especially those that have had the tornadoes over the past couple of days in Alabama and Georgia.   Hopefully, things will improve soon.

This week brought the much-anticipated release of the Postmaster General and Board of Governors’ ten-year plan, “Delivering for America – Our Vision and Ten-Year Plan to Achieve Financial Stability and Service Excellence.”   If you have had any time to look over the plan you know that it focuses on growth, innovation, improved service, and a number of cost saving measures.    The goal of the plan is to bring the Postal Service to a point at the end of the ten years that we would indeed be doing what we are supposed to be doing and that is being self-sustaining.   The overall goal is to save $160 Billion over the next ten years in order for us to be in a sustainable position.  This will be accomplished through a number of initiatives including Legislative and administrative action which is projected to account for $58 Billion of the $160 Billion total package; Regulatory changes via the Postal Regulatory Commission which is projected to amount to $44 Billion; Self-help management initiatives: cost improvement which is projected to amount to $34 Billion and finally, Self-help management initiatives: revenue improvement which is projected to account for $24 Billion of the overall strategy.  

Having read the plan I understand that there are many questions that need to be answered and much more information on how the plan will affect those of us currently employed by the Postal Service and what it means for change and innovation in our various workplaces.    When I had the opportunity to be briefed on the plan a few weeks ago, our Postmaster General, Mr. DeJoy, stated that it was his intention once the plan was rolled out to hold informational meetings with the stakeholders within the organization to make sure that everyone understands just what their role will be going forward and what we as leaders need to do to insure the success that is vital to the future of the Postal Service.   At this time, I have not received any further information on how that roll out will take place; however, I am sure that we will all be receiving much more information in the coming days and weeks.

The largest component of this plan ($58 Billion) requires necessary action by Congress and the Administration to relieve the unfair burden placed on the Postal Service in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) to prefund the retiree health benefits for individuals that, in some cases, have not even been born yet.   In the conversations I have had with members of Congress there appears to be strong bi-partisan support for ending this requirement.   A requirement that is not in place for any other governmental agency, or for anyone in the private sector.   Another part of the relief needed from Congress would involve Medicare integration.    Medicare integration would mandate that all future retirees would have Medicare as their primary insurance and whatever plan you are in in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) would be your secondary insurer.  As we see some legislation introduced, we will be reaching out for your assistance in working to get support in the House and Senate.   We need to do what we can to help move Postal Reform legislation forward so that we can get across the finish line on this one.

There are a number of components in the plan that call for changing retail operations and possible consolidations of offices.    Since the plan is so new, we do not know what those changes are that are being looked at.    For a number of the changes to move forward it will require a review by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).   There is a formal process to make that happen and once the Postal Service has requested a review by the PRC the Commission then has ninety days to issue their finding and during that ninety-day period, no further action can be taken.   Our Government Relations Team and I will be monitoring the PRC website on a regular basis and if there are things that are happening and issues that the PRC has been requested to review, we will share that information on our website, unitedpma.org, so I would encourage you to go to the website on a regular basis to obtain updates.  

I recognize that the uncertainty of all that is going on can be very frustrating and unsettling at times.    However, as I have said before the best advice that I can give you is to focus on those areas that you have control over and that you have the ability to make a difference in.    If you do not keep your focus on those things it can be overwhelming and can even lead to health issues.   If you DO find that you are getting overwhelmed and it is affecting your health, or you just feel you need someone to talk to, please reach out to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for help.   That is why EAP is offered by the Postal Service as a benefit and if you need to take advantage of it, please do so.

We are currently into the time of year when we have our Chapter Conventions.   The information that we have on where and when the conventions are happening is available on our website and it is also included in the UPMA Leader magazine each time that comes out, as well.   If you ever have questions you can reach out to one of the officers in your chapter, or you can reach out to us here at the National Office and we will do our best to get the answers you need.

As always, thank you for taking the time to watch this podcast, or for reading the script.   Stay safe and stay healthy going forward.    Wear those masks, clean your hands often and practice proper social distancing.

Take care until next month.

Dan Heins