House Republicans plan to probe Postal labor deal

House Republicans are skeptical of the recent deal struck between the U.S. Postal Service and one of its largest labor unions and are inviting both sides to Capitol Hill to explain themselves.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to meet April 5 to review the tentative 4 1/2-year deal between USPS and the American Postal Workers Union. Union members — including postal mechanics, clerks and truck drivers — have yet to ratify the deal.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said he’s doubtful the new deal will help improve the mail agency’s fiscal situation. “This looks like a missed opportunity,” he said in a statement.

The deal, struck after six months of negotiations, would give workers a 31/2 percent pay increase over the life of the contract, starting with a 1 percent raise in November 2012. By 2016, the Postal Service would be contributing less to a worker’s health-care costs, paying just 76 percent of premiums, down from 79 percent. Most federal agencies cover about 72 percent of employee health premiums.

The April hearing is the second held by Republicans on the future of the Postal Service since they took over the House in January — and definitely not the last. Lawmakers have introduced several bills designed to restructure USPS finances, and House and Senate aides acknowledge that Congress will have to act this year in order to avoid passing the short-term fixes similar to those passed the last two years.

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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