The postman always swings twice

As Kenneth pointed out this week, the Bush-era bill that put the postal service in dire straits by requiring decades of pre-funded health benefits was nothing but a blatant attempt to break their union. Now the Senate is attempting to rectify that (because closing post offices is extremely unpopular with constituents), but they’ve included a provision that will slash current workers comp payments by 25 percent. Imagine that. It’s a pretty large chunk of pain, because about half of federal workers out on workers comp are postal workers.

Working for your government has really become a thankless job:

The Senate passed sweeping U.S. Postal Service reform legislation by a 62-37 vote Wednesday, after months of debate and procedural halts on the measure.

The legislation (S. 1789) allows the agency to offer buyout and early retirement incentives to 100,000 employees, switches to five-day delivery if officials cannot come up with other cost savings within two years, and restructures a requirement that the Postal Service prefund its retirement health benefits with more than $5 billion annually.

It would transfer more than $11 billion from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund to the Postal Service to help process the large number of USPS employees scheduled to retire in the next few years. It also expands the alternatives USPS must consider before closing a post office.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that a previous version of the bill would cost the government $6.3 billion in the next 10 years, a figure USPS has disputed.

New amendments passed into the bill this week scale back workers’ compensation benefits, curtail USPS executive compensation to a level on par with Cabinet secretaries and addresses the backlog of USPS retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management.

Labor unions were particularly displeased with the inclusion of the workers compensation provision. The measure, first introduced by S. 1789 co-sponsor Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, would give workers injured on the job 50 percent of their pre-disability pay upon reaching retirement age. Under current law, employees disabled on the job can get up to 75 percent of their basic salaries tax-free, plus medical-related expenses. About half the federal employees who currently receive workers’ comp are postal workers.

I would love to see Susan Collins carry all those packages until she understands the strain it puts on the human body. But maybe she’s really an android.

[…] An amendment introduced late Wednesday by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., however, establishes workers’ compensation for government employees injured by acts of terrorism or in zones of armed conflict.

Because somehow it hurts more if a terrorist puts you out of commission? Or is it because it prevents an embarrassing public relations problem, like the one at Ground Zero?