Monthly Archives: December 2011

Stop Congress from destroying the US Postal Services. Repeal PAEA of 2006

I keep the news update about USPS right after the YouTube video below.

ALERT: Members of Congress keep FREE mail while pushing the US Postal cuts via Bloomberg News.

U.S. House members sent more than $45 million worth of such mail in 2010 and 2011 even while switching much of their communication to e-mail in recent years. Three of the 10 largest users last year were Republican members of the Tea Party caucus, which advocates for less government spending, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from House reports.

I remember the US Postal Service (USPS) has been very profitable in the past 15 years despite more people signing up for online bill pay services. In fact, the USPS was boasting how financial savvy they had been that they didn’t receive a penny in assistance from the Government. After further digging, I found out the ONLY reason USPS is in “financial trouble” is because of the man-made crisis by the members of Congress: The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA of 2006). This ridiculous act requires the USPS to fund the FUTURE health care benefits of its workers for the next 75 years, by within the SUPER-COMPRESSED 10 year deadline period. So the USPS is required to make FUTURE funding on postal employees NOT YET born into this world!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s get Congress to pass H.R. 1351, the United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011.

See below, written by a concerned citizen. Any future news update, I’m putting them at the bottom of this blog.

http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20111203/OPINION03/312030012/Congress-can-fix-its-postal-woes?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFrontpage%7Cs

Congress can fix its postal woes

2:50 PM, Dec. 2, 2011   by Chet McKee

It is important that we all understand why we are losing the general mail facility. The Republicans like to repeat the myth that the Post Office is not profitable and receives “bailouts.” That is false. The cause of the financial distress is a Congressional act designed for the sole purpose of destroying the the largest governmental union and to transfer postal service to private industry (i.e. Wall Street).

In 2006, a lame duck GOP Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). It was signed into law by President G.W. Bush on Dec. 20, 2006. The Republican majority insisted it be passed by voice vote with no record of how anyone voted.

The primary provision of the PAEA was to mandate that the Postal Service fully “pre-fund’’ future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years and to do it within a 10-year window. This means that the Postal Service is required to pay the U.S. Treasury $5.5 billion each Sept. 30. This pay for the future retirement health benefits of people who haven’t even been born yet. The Postal Service is the only entity that is mandated to do this. No government agency, corporation or organization is required to fully pre-fund future retirees’ health benefits, let alone for 75 years … in 10 years.Without the PAEA, the USPS has had a net profit of $611 million.

The savvy management at the USPS was still able to come up with the funds. Congressional mandates have caused the USPS to overpay into its two retirement systems, the Civil Service Retirement System by $50 billion, and the Federal Employees Retirement System around $7 billion. Congress can fix the problem by passing H.R 1351, the United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011. This bill does not cut jobs or services. The bill was introduced by Steven Lynch and has 211 co-sponsors. This bill will not cost the citizens of the United States a penny. It will simply transfer the overpayments in the retirement system into the future retiree health care obligation. This bill would make the USPS the only company in the United States with two fully funded pensions and a fully funded current and future retiree health care benefits plan while running at a net profit. How’s that for sound business practice?

The Republicans want to “privatize” the Post Office. Do you really think that a private company will deliver to every address in the United States for 44 cents? Not likely. This is a union-bashing money grab by Wall Street facilitated by their employees in Congress.

Chet McKee is a former naval officer and aviator, paramedic and educator. He is currently a speech pathologist working with hearing impaired children. He lives in Fairview.

Money-saving tip:If you need to buy Cashier’s Check or Money Order, try US Post Office’s Money Order. Avoid the “highway robbery charges” at the Big Banks ($10 or more). It costs less than $2 to buy US Postal Money Order in value up to $1,000. The fee is only $4.45 for International Money Order that can be cashed in 29 countries. For example, if you need to buy $2,000 Domestic Money Order, you only pay $1.55 x 2 = $3.10 in fee for US Postal Money Order.

UPDATE April 26, 2012  The Senate voted 62-37 to keep post offices open for now.

Senate passes bill that would keep post offices open
By Leigh Ann Caldwell   April 25, 2012

(CBS News) The U.S. Senate passed legislation Wednesday afternoon that would preserve post office services now set to be slashed due to the agency’s financial problems.

The measure, which passed 62-37, eases the Postal Service’s money woes by reimbursing the agency to the tune of $11 billion for overpaying into federal workers’ retirement fund.

The Senate bill would slow or prevent the closing of many low-revenue post office locations that have been slated to close. It also prohibits the elimination of Saturday delivery for at least two years to allow cost-cutting measures to go into effect. In addition, the measure authorizes the Postal Service to offer buyouts and early retirement incentives to its employees.

Without legislative action before May 15, the Postal Service would be forced to close post offices and mail processing centers, cut Saturday delivery and possibly lay off workers to address more than $8 billion worth of losses.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) praised the passage of the Senate bill.
“This comprehensive postal reform legislation will preserve vitally important rural post offices and mail processing plants,” Sanders said. “It also would give the Postal Service the flexibility that it needs to raise additional revenue in the years to come by offering innovative new products and services in the digital age.”

The USPS is a government agency; it does not take taxpayer dollars, but it has depended in recent years on loans from the federal government.

The Postal Service has struggled in the Internet age as many have turned to email over traditional mail. It has also faced money problems due to a 2006 law that required the agency to pre-fund health care benefits for future retirees.

Sally Davidow, spokesperson for the American Postal Workers Union, told CBS News that the bill is “flawed” because it still requires the Postal Service to pay workers’ health care benefits in-advance.

“It gives the postal service some financial relief,” Davidow said, but “it doesn’t give the Postal Service sufficient relief to pre-fund health benefits of future retirees.”

The Republican-led House of Representatives must pass the bill before it can be signed by the president, but one lawmaker with oversight of the Postal Service called the Senate bill “unacceptable.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said: “Worst of all, the Senate bill does not stop the financial collapse of USPS, but only delays it for two years, at best, when reforms will only be more painful. The Senate’s approach is wholly unacceptable.”

Additional reporting by John Nolen.

UPDATE as Jan 5, 2012

http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20120104/NEWS/120109947/1078&ParentProfile=1062

Three local post offices could close
Three local post offices have until May to prove why they should be spared
January, 4 2012
By Randy Wyrick
rwyrick@vaildaily.com
Eagle County, CO Colorado
RED CLIFF — Congress is forcing the U.S. Postal Service to prepay its retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and that’s the root of their financial woes, a Postal Service spokesman said.

Now, the Postal Service writes an annual check to the U.S. Treasury for $5.5 billion, and the cuts needed to make that payment reach all the way to rural Eagle County.

The Burns post office is slated to be closed by mid-May, and those in Bond and Red Cliff may also be on the chopping block, said David Rupert, who handles corporate communications with the U.S. Postal Service.

In Routt County, post offices in Toponas and Vicksburg are being studied for possible closing.

“Because we can’t make any other change, we’re left with this,” Rupert said. “We don’t take any joy in this because we know what a post office means to these small communities.”

Last year the Postal Service was $5 billion in the red after it made that $5.5 billion payment that Congress began requiring in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Rupert said.

That law calculated the costs of retiree health care benefits for the next 75 years, and required the Postal Service to pay it up front, Rupert said.

“We’re paying for people who haven’t been born yet,” Rupert said.

The Postal Service has asked that the bill be restructured, Rupert said.

“It’s an onerous requirement that’s dragging down our fiscal well-being. Nobody else has to do this, not any branch of government and not the private sector,” Rupert said.

The Postal Service is a $60 billion annual industry funded by postage fees, Rupert said.

It’s personal in places like Red Cliff.

“It would be a loss for Red Cliff,” Cisneros said. “When we lost our school we lost a lot. If we lose the post office it would be a real hit.”

Lost and bewildered folks often wander into the Red Cliff post office, stopping to ask Cisneros for directions. They’ve come to the right place.

Cisneros has been Red Cliff’s postmaster for 16 years. Before that she was the relief postmaster. She worked in the old post office, and in the trailer that was Red Cliff’s temporary post office while the current building was under construction.

She was born in Gilman, the abandoned mining town just up the road, moving to Red Cliff when she was 4 years old.

“No one accidentally goes to Red Cliff,” she said smiling.

Residents have until Jan. 19 to comment to the Postal Service about whether their post office should be closed. If the post offices are closed, residents have 120 days to protest.

The Postal Service will hand down its ruling in mid-May.

“We’ve been given a little more time,” Cisneros said.

Eagle County’s three rural post offices being studied are among 3,650 post offices across the country, including more than 100 in Colorado, Rupert said.

The Postal Service was going “full steam ahead” to make those cuts, Rupert said, when 22 congressmen wrote a letter to the postmaster asking them to slow down, including both of Colorado’s senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet.

Now, no post offices will be closed until May 15, Rupert said.

The Postal Service cut 110,000 employers over the past five years, Rupert said.

They’ll be closing mail processing centers in Salida, Durango, Alamosa and Colorado Springs. That Colorado Springs facility employs 300 people, Rupert said.

The Vail Valley used to have its mail processed through Glenwood Springs processing center, but that was shut down in 2011, Rupert said.

“We’ve cut everything we can and now we’re to the point of cutting the bone,” Rupert said.

Cutting back from six-day delivery to five days a week will save $3 billion a year, but requires congressional approval, Rupert said.

Senators Udall and Bennet pushed the six-month moratorium on the closing or consolidating rural post offices.

“While we may have very different views on how to financially improve the postal service, we all believe that democratically elected members of the Senate and the House have the responsibility to make significant changes to the postal service,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “… We believe that it is very important to give Congress the opportunity to reform the Postal Service in a way that protects universal service while ensuring its financial viability for decades to come.”

The senators outlined priorities for reform that encourage innovation and creative approaches to existing assets.

Electronic delivery has hit hard. First class volume is down 20 percent over the last three years, Rupert said.

“That’s our bread and butter,” Rupert said.

The Postal Service is moving more toward the village post office, locating it in a gas station or convenience store.

“You go to stores and you can buy stamps. For most transactions, could they be done in a place like that?” Rupert asked.

Post offices are screened by workload, revenue and trends, Rupert said.

“We don’t close office simply because they’re not making money. If that were so we would close 80 percent of the post offices,” Rupert said.

Burns has 38 post office boxes and averages two transactions per day, things like selling stamps or sending packages, Rupert said. The McCoy post office, 13 miles from Burns, will remain open.

“They’ll miss that postmaster being there, but it’s an awfully expensive convenience,” Rupert said.

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Nurses Protest/Strike and New Video “A Nightmare on Wall St” on Bankers

UPDATE as of Aug 11, 2012: Per the local newspaper TimesLedger, nurses at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Bayside, Queens, NY (New York City) rally for a new contractHighlights from the news article:

The union said St. Mary’s’ recorded operating revenues were $93 million in 2010 and $4.3 million in profits, according to its most recent tax filing. The protestors, who said they represented more than 300 employees, unified in support of a renewed agreement with the hospital for better benefits, including health insurance and access to education opportunities.

Union workers rally in the rain for a new benefits contract outside St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital. (Photo by Phil Corso at the TimesLedger)

UPDATE as of Feb 14, 2012: New details on the 3-year contract (Jan 1, 2012 to Dec 31, 2014) ratified on Feb 9, 2012 by the nurses at Flushing Hospital in Queens County, NY: (1) the registered nurses will be reinstated to the union pension plan with full credit. (2) The nurses will receive 2 percent wage increases in two stages on July 7, 2013 and July 6, 2014. Hourly per diem rates will also rise. (3) the nurses to contribute between $25 and $100 a month for health insurance coverage. Prescriptions will be filled for free at pharmacies affiliated with MediSys, the parent company of Flushing Hospital. See this LINK for the news containing the terms of the new contract.

UPDATE as of Feb 4, 2012: Tentative deal has been reached for nurses at Flushing Hospital to avert a strike on Feb 7. But no details yet on whether there will be more permanent deal. With a few hospitals shutdown in Queens in recent years (Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica and St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst), the remaining/surviving hospitals are overcrowded already.

UPDATE as of Feb 3, 2012: Nurses at Flushing Hospital in Queens, NY are set to strike starting at 7:15 am on Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012. See the press release regarding this strike in this LINK  There was a rally outside of Flushing Hospital on Feb 2, 2012 with two local politicians (whose districts include Flushing) at the rally: Grace Meng (NYS Assembly, Democrat) and Toby Ann Stavisky (NY State Senate, Democrat) expressing their concerns about nurses rights and patients safety if the negotiation is not resolved.

UPDATE as of Jan 6, 2012:  new YouTube video called, “A Nightmare on Wall Street” presented by National Nurses United.  See this LINK for the YouTube video.  

FYI, besides the Nurses Protest set for Tuesday, Dec 20 in New York City. There will be a one day strike by California nurses on Thursday, Dec 22 across the entire state of California.

Read this news link from the Los Angeles Times Blog about the one-day strike by nurses in California. Thousands of registered nurses across California will strike for one day this week over myriad issues they say include predatory cuts that affect patient care, unsuccessful contract negotiations and rising healthcare premium costs. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/12/california-nurses-strike.html

WHAT: Nurses to protest the practices of Cerberus Capital Management (the multi-billion dollar private equity firm’s) health care unit, Steward Health Care System, from targeting hospitals for profit.

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec 20 at 12:30PM

WHERE: Cerberus Capital Management, 299 Park Ave in Manhattan, NY

http://insurancenewsnet.com/article.aspx?id=316527

Nurses Rally against Wall St. Targeting Hospitals for Profits

NEW YORK, Dec. 19 — National Nurses United issued the following news release:
Hundreds of nurses and their supporters from across the U.S. will converge outside the offices of Cerberus Capital Management, 299 Park Avenue, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 12:30 p.m., to protest the practices of the multi-billion dollar private equity firm’s health care unit, Steward Health Care System. Cerberus-Steward now operates 10 hospitals in Massachusetts, has partnered with a number of physician practices here, and is now entering the health insurance market as well. Cerberus-Steward has come under increasing criticism for cornering the market with predatory practices, undercutting patient care with its push for profits. The nurses — from Massachusetts, and joined by RNs from NY, DC, CA, Il, PA and NV — are members of National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the U.S., with 170,000 members. Nurses, allies and Occupy Wall Street protesters will speak at the rally, which will also feature theater and a 10-foot, three-headed dog, “Cerberus,” the mythical canine at the Gates of Hell. “As patient advocates on the frontlines, nurses are sounding the alarm about the entrance of cut-throat private equity firms, like Cerberus, into the health care marketplace,” said Karen Higgins, RN and co-president, National Nurses United. “It is a development that spells danger for patients and communities across the country.” Cerberus owns an array of businesses, including the Freedom Group subsidiary – leading manufacturer of guns and ammunition. Last year it added the chain of hospitals to its portfolio. Nurses who work at those hospitals say that Cerberus-Steward has failed to maintain quality patient care standards at the Massachusetts facilities in contravention of an agreement reached with the state and with its employees. The okay for the profit maker to take control of the non-profit facilities was tied to keeping patient care a top priority. The company makes daily threats to close services or entire hospitals in direct violation of its assurances to the state as a condition of entering the marketplace. The nurses report a number of alarming changes since Cerberus-Steward took over. Staffing levels have been reduced, specialty units for the care of specific conditions have been eliminated , and patients are treated like products on an assembly line. Even the most basic supplies are not available when nurses need them; for example bread, crackers and juice (which nurses need to stabilize diabetic patients) are no longer available on the floors.
Some nurses who spoke out to protect their patients have been fired, in direct violation of federal labor law. To its RNs, Cerberus-Steward reneged on its contract, dropping the promised defined benefit pension plan–a benefit promised to keep RNs on the job. It is threatening to cut health benefits to some nurses, as well.
Earlier this month, Cerberus-Steward announced a partnership with Compass Medical, a group of 90 doctors. This fall, Steward bought into Whittier Independent Practice Association and its 150 MDs. A protest by community hospital groups to Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley said these purchases “violate the assurance by Steward that such apparent predatory actions against community hospitals would not take place.”

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93 Climate Killer Banks Worldwide to Un-Bank & Sever Ties With Now!

See this LINK to the PDF file containing a list of the 93 Mega Banks (worldwide) that are lending money and supporting Coal Fired Electricity and Coal Mining which are very harmful to the environment, go to page 53-55 on the PDF file for the alphabetical list of the 93 Mega Banks. Unless you do not have young children and grandchildren growing up, they will be inheriting and growing up in an environment that is much more toxic than we experience in our generation. Consider un-banking these Mega Banks that pollute the earth – stop feeding them with your money. See this LINK for “How-To” guide on moving your money out of Big Banks into either small community bank or credit union.

If you need more reasons to dump the Big Banks (especially the American Wall St. banks), watch this Oscar-winning documentary “Inside Job” about how the 2008 financial collapse came about. See this LINK for the full length HD version in English.

Quick summary list of the Top 20 MegaBanks financing the big toxin-producers: the Coal Fired Electricity and Coal Mining since 2005.

1) JP Morgan Chase / Chase Bank (USA)

2) Citigroup / Citibank (USA)

3) Bank of America (USA)

4) Morgan Stanley (USA)

5) Barclays (United Kingdom)

6) Deutsche Bank (Germany)

7) Royal Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom)

8 ) BNP Paribas (France)

9) Credit Suisse (Switzerland)

10) UBS (Switzerland)

11) Goldman Sachs (USA)

12) Bank of China (China)

13) Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (China)

14) Crédit Agricole / Calyon (France)

15) UniCredit / HVB (Italy)

16) China Construction Bank (China)

17) Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (Japan)

18) Société Générale (France)

19) Wells Fargo (USA)

20) HSBC (United Kingdom)

For the remaining 73 Mega Banks (worldwide) that are aiding and abetting pollution and big Climate Changes via financing the toxic industry: See pages 53-55 in this LINK for the alphabetical list of 93 Mega Banks (worldwide) that provide funding to big toxic-polluters: the Coal Mining and Coal Fired Electricity Industry that are causing big climate changes around the world.
See page 15 for Top 20 Banks financing coal fired electricity and coal mining since 2005
See page 24 for Top 20 Banks financing coal mining worldwide (since 2005)
See page 27 for Top 20 Banks financing Coal India (since 2005)
See page 29 for Top 20 Banks financing Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Xstrata (since 2005)
See page 32 for Top 20 Banks financing coal fired electricity worldwide (since 2005)
See page 35 for Top 20 Banks financing the biggest coal fired electricity companies
in China (since 2005)
See page 37 for Top 20 Banks financing Eskom (since 2005)
See page 50 for List of Coal mining companies
See pages 51-52 for List of Coal-fired electricity companies

The complete PDF file is published by urgewald, groundWork, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and BankTrack. If you would like more information, here are their contact information.

urgewald

heffa@urgewald.de

Tel: (49)-2583-1031

http://www.urgewald.de

groundWork

team@groundwork.org.za

Tel: (27)-33-3425662

http://www.groundwork.org.za

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg

seccp@earthlife.org.za

Tel: (27)–11-339 3662

http://www.earthlife.org.za

BankTrack

yann@banktrack.org

Tel: (33)-688-907868

http://www.banktrack.org

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