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MI Workers: USPS Reform Bill Would Create Opportunity for Postal Banking

Eliminating a burdensome retirement-benefit pre-funding requirement could save the U.S. Postal Service $5.65 billion per year.
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Eliminating a burdensome retirement-benefit pre-funding requirement could save the U.S. Postal Service $5.65 billion per year.

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.

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 prefunding requirement would open up more than $5 billion per year.

Roscoe Woods, legislative director for the Michigan Postal Workers Union and president of the American Postal Workers Union Area Local 480-481, said the money will bring major opportunities to the agency.

"It basically rigged us to just fail every year, and to see that prefunding eliminated, and that debt waived is an amazing day for the Postal Service, to no longer have that hanging over our heads," Woods asserted.

The bill also requires Postal Service retirees to enroll in Medicare, instead of keeping the federal employee health benefit plan. Woods urged Congress to ensure the change does not increase the cost burden for agency employees entering retirement.

Woods pointed out the bill allows the Postal Service to partner with state, local or tribal governments to provide property and nonpostal services to the public such as banking, or selling hunting or fishing licenses or public transit passes.

He said postal banking in particular would be a major boost for rural America; he noted some small towns do not have any banks or credit unions.

"I've always been really, really offended by those check-cashing places, and what they charge and taking advantage of poor people," Woods remarked. "And the idea that regardless of your status, you might be able to do some simple banking out of a post office, I just think that's an incredibly great thing. "

Woods added moving forward, he hopes there will be support in Congress for reversing some of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's changes opponents said have degraded the agency's service standards. For instance, he emphasized first-class mail used to be delivered within three days, but now the standard is five days.

"We are one of the oldest agencies in the government. And we were able to meet those standards when we were barely automated," Woods stressed. "And now, given the level of automation, there's nothing we can't achieve if some of those in leadership would just get out of our way and let us do it."

Originally from just outside Boston, Lily Bohlke is formerly from 2020Talks, a show tracking politics and elections, that started prior to the 2020 Iowa caucuses at KHOI in Ames. She's also a past intern for the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism.
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