We’ll have more about this in Monday’s edition of Federal Times, but it’s an odd enough story that I think it merits a blog post tonight.
The major postal unions — APWU, NALC, NRLCA and NPMHU — sent a letter on Tuesday to Jim Messina, the White House deputy chief of staff. They requested a meeting to discuss the Postal Service’s “deepening crisis.” They want the White House to intervene with Congress and reduce the Postal Service’s contributions to its retiree health care trust fund. Without that change, the Postal Service is going to run out of cash this year.
The letter was posted on at least one of their Web sites (APWU) earlier today; it has since been removed. I printed it out earlier this afternoon, and we’ve posted a scanned copy (pdf) here — I guess hard copies are still useful sometimes, huh?
Anyway, the letter includes this statement:
Its top executives are now saying that the USPS will default on a $5.4 billion payment to prefund future retiree health benefits on September 30, 2009. And its government affairs representatives are now telling Congressional staff that the Postal Service may not be able to make payroll in October and will be forced to issue IOUs instead.
I talked to Joe Corbett, the Postal Service’s chief financial officer, earlier this evening. He said the first part of that statement is true: He’s “not confident” that the Postal Service will be able to make its retiree health care trust fund payment, even if H.R. 22 passes Congress.
But as for the second part, about the Postal Service missing its payroll, here’s what Corbett said:
Absolutely not. There has not been any discussion internally. We will make payroll, full stop. That’s something we have been adamant about… we just had a discussion about this yesterday in our executive committee.
That’s the second time in a week I’ve heard talk of the Postal Service missing its payroll — so this is obviously a meme that is spreading. Where is it coming from? If you work in the Postal Service, or on Capitol Hill, and you’ve heard this kind of talk, let me know via e-mail (your name stays confidential, of course).