From Open Secrets blog:
The fate of the U.S. Postal Service, now $9.2 billion in debt, lies with a handful of lawmakers its workers’ unions hope will enact the serious reform needed to save the federal agency.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the committee that oversees the Postal Service, was once one of those lawmakers. But now, after pushing his Postal Reform Act through a House subcommittee, postal unions consider Issa their greatest foe.
Back during the 2010 election cycle, Issa, considered a talented Republican lawmaker, was the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and he promised postal unions that he would work on their behalf. Postal unions responded by contributing $41,000 to his re-election campaign, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics.
That sum ranked Issa as the No. 10 beneficiary of postal union money that cycle, among House members, according to the Center’s research. So far this year, however, Issa has collected just $2,000 from postal union PACs.
“We supported Issa pretty early on last cycle, and that was a direct result of him reaching out and working with us,” Jennifer Warburton, director of legislative and political affairs for the National Association of Letter Carriers, told OpenSecrets Blog. “He said he there had to be a way to reform the Postal Service to keep the dignity of postal workers intact.”
Then, in the fall before 2010 election, as the USPS and postal unions negotiated labor contracts, Issa’s penned an op-ed for the Washington Times calling on Congress to reject the agency’s requests to extend the deadline for the payment of future health care benefits. Issa argued that the USPS’s declining revenues and the postal unions’ no-layoff labor contracts meant Congress needed to intervene.
After the election, Issa was promoted to chairman of the committee and an arbiter of USPS’s fate. In June, Issa introduced the Postal Reform Act of 2011, which would create an independent commission to run the USPS and enact $10.7 billion in austerity measures — such as ending Saturday delivery, closing post offices and laying off workers.
The postal unions balked, seeing it as a “union-buster” bill that would “destroy the Postal Service.” And most postal unions have since cemented negative opinions on Issa, said Mark Strong, president of the League of Postmasters.
“We had thought he was going to be a strong leader in the House, and we were hoping that we’d be able to work together,” Strong told OpenSecrets Blog. “It’s quite evident that won’t happen, and he won’t be getting our support in the future.”
[P]ostal groups such as Strong’s have backed Lynch’s bill, H.R. 1351, which focused on restructuring how the agency pays its employees’ healthcare and retirement benefits. But that bill has yet to make it out of committee. Meanwhile, Issa’s is now one step from the House floor.