There was an old-fashioned union rally on Frankford Avenue on Tuesday. Signs were carried and slogans were chanted as more than 20 postal workers walked back and forth in front of U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s district office.
The members of the American Postal Workers Union, Local 7048, were on the 7200 block of Frankford Ave. to thank the congresswoman for her support of a bill they believe would help the U.S. Postal Service pay its own way and, therefore, preserve their jobs.
Joe Quinlan, the local’s political director, said House bill HR1351, if enacted, would stop what he called $75 billion in overpayments to the postal service’s pension fund. Putting that money aside, which was ordered by a 2006 law, amounts to “prefunding” the postal service’s pension for up to 75 years in the future, leaving no money to meet current operating expenses, Quinlan said.
The current pension regulations, he said, actually pay for postal workers who aren’t even born. HR 1351 removes that requirement, he added.
APWU members, along with members of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, coordinated demonstrations outside every congressional office in the country on Tuesday, Quinlan said. Members of his local were planning to rally later in the day outside the Langhorne office of U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8th dist.), while letter carriers were slated to be outside Schwartz’s office later Tuesday afternoon.
The congresswoman’s office released a statement on her pension stance: “Both in this congressional term and in past congressional terms, Congresswoman Schwartz has signed on to legislation to enable greater flexibility regarding pension costs. She knows that we must improve the financial health of the postal service, and that by modifying the methodology used for meeting its pension costs under the Civil Service Retirement System, the postal service can meet its current obligations. For many years, the postal service has been overpaying this expense, and modifying the methodology would help provide flexibility to meet other needs.”
Vince Tarducci, president of Local 7048, said 216 House members from both parties support HR 1351, but that more backing is needed to get the measure out of committee for a full House vote. ••