House Committee Adopts Amendment to Restore Postal Service Standards

From the American Postal Workers Union:

06/09/2016The House Appropriations Committee overwhelmingly approved an amendment on June 9 to restore the USPS service standards that were in place on July 1, 2012. The amendment, which was offered by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), was adopted in a  voice vote, with strong support from both Democrats and Republicans. After all the amendments were considered, the committee approved the Financial Services Appropriations bill in a vote of 30-17.

If enacted, the legislation would rescind the lower service standards the USPS implemented on Jan. 5, 2015 – which have wreaked havoc on mail delivery. Continue reading

Video: USPS under fire for slow delivery service in Montana

If you’ve ever thought that postal delivery service in Montana was slow, you’re not alone.

Last week Montana State Senator Jon Tester said that he consistently hears complaints from residents throughout the state that they experience serious delays in mail and the Government Accountability Office recently released a report that found the US Postal Service has been reporting incomplete data about it’s mail efficiency and timing of delivery services.

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Source: Senator Jon Tester: “Montanans tell me that there are serious delays in mail delivery….”

Mailers group opposes amendment to restore 2012 service standards

The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (C21), a group representing major players in the mailing industry, yesterday sent the following letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking it to reject the amendement recently approved by its House counterpart, which would require the USPS to restore service standards to 2012 levels.

Text of the letter:

On June 17, the House Committee on Appropriations approved an amendment by Representative Chaka Fattah which would require the USPS to revert service standards for First Class Mail and Periodical Mail that were effective on July 1, 2012. That same amendment is being sought in your Committee. The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (C21) opposes this amendment, and urges that it not be included in the Senate Appropriations legislation.

C21 broadly represents the entire $1,3 trillion industry, mailers and their suppliers, employing 7.8 million private sector workers, which relies upon USPS. A list of our members is attached.

This well-intended amendment is crafted to ensure that overnight delivery service is restored around the country, and particularly in rural areas. C21 supports that thrust; many of its members, rural and otherwise, have suffered negative effects from the downgrading of service over the past three years. Nonetheless, the amendment would create operational and financial impacts that would greatly outweigh whatever benefit it might confer. We believe a better avenue to address the service problems is through consideration in the authorizing committees. In fact, the issue is well-addressed in legislation introduced by Sen. Heitkamp and other Members, and pending before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

In order to restore July 1, 2012 service, the Postal Service would have no choice but to reopen a large number of facilities it has closed and/or sold in the past three years, reverse reconfigured transportation routes, and rehire, or extend the hours of existing, employees. The Congressional Budget Office concluded in a letter to Senator Tom Carper dated July 13 that the amendment would cost the Postal Service in excess of one billion dollars in the first year. (Postal Service estimates are closer to $2 billion in the first year, and $1.5 billion in each of the succeeding four.) CBO further concluded that because of its precarious fiscal condition, USPS would not be able to devote more than $300 million to the effort in that first year.

Further, CBO assumes that since the effect of the Fattah amendment would be for only one year, that the Postal Service would resume its service reduction plan in 2017. In light of this likely financial impact, the proposed amendment will hardly ensure that rural service would actually improve. USPS is already failing to meet the more relaxed standard. As a result, C21 is concerned that USPS would be unable to comply and simply fail to adhere to the old standards, despite a congressional mandate. The analysis by CBO confirms this possibility.

But the effects of rolling back service would not just be felt by the Postal Service. All of the companies up and down the mailing supply chain have worked and invested substantially in software, transportation and more to adhere to delivery changes caused by the Postal Service’s revised service standards and plant closings. The $2 billion in the first year is a USPS-only figure. The total impact, multiplied over the entire industry would be several orders of magnitude higher. To now roll back these standards would cause another debilitating wave of expense and effort.

While, again, we share the concerns of Members who believe rural service in particular should be improved, we believe the appropriate way to address these concerns is through the process currently underway in the authorizing committees to address specifically this important issue in an independent bill, or as part of urgent, more general postal legislation.

In sum, the cost of this amendment would not only substantially further erode the already very difficult financial condition of the Postal Service, we believe pursuing this amendment very well could be counterproductive to the process underway to pass legislation that would stabilize the Postal Service financially, and make some other needed and meaningful changes to the postal statutory regime. Thank you for considering our views.

C21’s corporate and trade association members include paper manufacturers, printers, technology suppliers, advertisers, catalogers, magazines, newspapers, greeting card publishers, financial houses and other major transactional mailers, prescription and e-commerce sales fulfillment, parcel shippers, mail service providers, and more.

Members

Alpine Air Express, Inc.

American Business Media

American Catalog Mailers Association

American Express

American Forest and Paper Association

Association for Postal Commerce

Bank of America

Boise, Inc.

Bowe Bell+Howell

Conde Nast

Datamatx

Direct Marketing Association

Domtar

Eastman Kodak Company

ebay

Envelope Manufacturers Association

FedEx

Greeting Card Association

IDEAlliance

Imaging Network Group

International Paper

Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association

Major Mailers Association

Medco

National Association of Advertising Distributors

National Newspaper Association

National Postal Policy Council

National Retail Federation

NewPage Corporation

Newspaper Association of America

NPES – The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies

NPTA Alliance

Parcel Shippers Association

Pitney Bowes Inc.

Printing Industries of America

Quad Graphics

RR Donnelley

Time Warner Inc.

Verizon

Verso Paper Corp.

Senate Dems seek to protect rural postal delivery

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today introduced legislation to improve rural mail service and delivery, increase protections for rural post offices, and make sure postal employees are treated fairly in North Dakota and across the country.

Building on what she has heard from individuals from across North Dakota, including through her Fix My Mail initiative, Heitkamp – a member of the Senate committee overseeing the Postal Service – introduced legislation to specifically address the postal concerns and challenges in rural America. Since launching her grassroots Fix My Mail initiative in January 2014, Heitkamp has received stories from more than 200 North Dakotans about issues they have encountered with delayed mail delivery and poor service from the U.S. Postal Service, and she has led efforts to make sure the Postal Service better works for all rural communities. Earlier this year, she brought together the first bipartisan meeting of Senators from rural states to speak with the U.S. Postmaster General.

A vocal advocate for rural America, Heitkamp’s bill would make sure rural states and communities are no longer disproportionately impacted by cuts to mail service. Over the past few years, communities in rural America, including North Dakota, have faced excessive closures of post offices and mail processing facilities, which is increasing delivery times, reducing service standards, and hurting the Postal Service workforce.

In the Dakotas, only about 65 percent of non-local mail arrived on time within three to five days last quarter, which is about 30 percent below the Postal Service’s own annual goal. And from 2001 to 2013, nearly 400 post offices closed across the country, hurting mail service, particularly in rural communities.

“Mail is a critical lifeline in rural America, and all North Dakotans deserve access to high-quality mail delivery and service, regardless of where they live. But in too many places in North Dakota and rural America, that has not been happening,” said Heitkamp. “Through my Fix My Mail initiative, I’ve heard from folks from across our state that they aren’t receiving their mail and prescription drugs on time, or their local post office has had its operating hours significantly reduced. That can’t be the way the Postal Service operates. My commonsense bill aims to address the needs of rural families and postal employees, and will make an honest difference in rural communities across North Dakota. This isn’t the final step to fixing all the problems with the Postal Service, but any effort to do so needs to include these kinds of protections and support for rural America, and I’ll keep building support so we can meet the postal needs of all Americans.”

Heitkamp’s legislation would tackle rural postal concerns and make meaningful changes to better protect rural communities by:

  • Improving Mail Service Standards – The bill would make sure mail reaches its destination faster by restoring stronger service standards, and place a two-year moratorium on the closure of additional mail processing plants.
  • Meeting the Needs of Rural Postal Customers – The bill would preserve six-day mail delivery, instead of being added annually in appropriations legislation as it has in recent years.
  • Protecting Rural Post Offices – The bill would protect rural post offices from closures, require specific procedures for reducing operating hours at rural post offices, and enable communities to formally petition the Postal Service to reverse closures or reductions in hours.
  • Improve Postal Employee Morale – The bill would establish a Chief Morale Officer within the Postal Service to oversee working conditions, staffing, communication, and training efforts.

Joining Heitkamp in introducing her Rural Postal Act were Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Gary Peters (D-MI). For a one-page summary of the bill, click here. For reactions on the bill from the postal community, click here.

Heitkamp has long led efforts to make significant improvements to mail delivery and service throughout North Dakota’s rural communities, including:

  • Standing up for Rural Postal Customers – After sharing stories she received through her Fix My Mail initiative with the Postal Service, Heitkamp successfully received commitments from the agency to improve mail service and delivery throughout North Dakota, including keeping more hours of operation at nearly 30 rural post offices in the state. Last Congress, Heitkamp also successfully gained bipartisan support for two amendments to postal reform legislation to protect rural service, improve oversight of service changes in the Postal Service and develop a strategy to better support postal employees in rural America.
  • Pushing for Accountability and Transparency from the Postal Service – Last March, as part of her Fix My Mail initiative, Heitkamp requested a Postal Service Office of Inspector General review of postal standards and employee issues in North Dakota. The report found that for the past several years, the Postal Service failed to process and deliver mail in a timely fashion, lacked retail windows to meet demand, did not have a plan to address rapid population growth, overworked employees, and rarely met national service standards in the state.
  • Leading Efforts to Protect the Postal Needs of Rural Communities – In May, Heitkamp brought together the first bipartisan meeting of solely rural-state Senators to meet with U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan about the impacts of mail processing facility closures and service standard reductions, and secured a commitment from the Postal Service to work better to meet the needs of rural America. Later that month, Heitkamp co-hosted a Senate roundtable discussion on rural postal issues, calling on leaders in the postal community to work with her to protect delivery and service in rural America.

 

APWU Takes PRC to Court Over Refusal to Enforce Service Standards

apwudefault206/29/2015The APWU has taken the Postal Regulatory Commission to court, challenging the commission’s decision to dismiss its complaint that the Postal Service is failing to meet service standards. The union filed the Petition for Review on May 29 in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and submitted a Statement of Issues to be Raised on June 18.

In dismissing the APWU’s allegations of system-wide service failures, the PRC concluded that service standards are simply “expectations,” and, as a result, the commission could not compel the Postal Service to adhere to them. The appeal challenges those assertions.

“If it is allowed to stand, the PRC’s ruling would render any service standards meaningless,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “It would make a mockery of the Postal Service’s legal obligation to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services.” The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) requires the PRC to issue orders to the USPS to remedy violations of service standards. Continue reading

APWU: USPS Seeks to Derail Efforts to Restore Service Standards

apwudefault406/23/2015The Postal Service has signaled it will try to derail a measure approved by the House Appropriations Committee on June 17 to restore postal service standards to the levels that were in place on July 1, 2012. The committee’s vote would rescind the lower service standards the USPS implemented on Jan. 5 – which have wreaked havoc on mail delivery.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein praised the committee’s vote, calling the amendment “a vivid example of how the demands of postal workers reflect the people’s demand for good postal service.” If enacted, the measure would require postal management to restore overnight mail delivery within cities and towns and the 2- and 3-day delivery standards that were wiped out in January. It also would make additional plant consolidations less feasible.

But in a statement on its website, the Postal Service called the amendment “financially and operationally indefensible,” and said it “encourages Congress to remove the requirement.”

In addition to “immediate implementation costs,” the USPS claimed “foregoing the benefits” of its “current operating model” would cost the agency $1.5 billion annually.

Dimondstein said the claim was preposterous. “The Postal Service should, at the very least, be honest with the American people and with Congress,” he said.

The APWU has vigorously opposed the degradation of service standards, calling it a step toward dismantling and privatizing the nation’s mail system.

“We have a lot of work to do to win support for the amendment in the Senate,” Dimondstein. “We will soon be calling on our members to help.”

The vote on the amendment, which was offered by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), was 26-23. Six Republicans joined all of the committee’s Democrats to vote in favor of the measure.

Source: USPS Seeks to Derail Efforts to Restore Service Standards | APWU

Senators request postal study and improved mail delivery standards

(U.S. Senate) – As the U.S. Postal Service continues to face a budgetary shortfall, Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) want better postal data so policymakers can make informed decisions on how to improve service in rural America.

Tester and Heitkamp wrote Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) Chairman Robert Taub to urge his agency to conduct an in-depth study of rural mail delivery. Continue reading

Video: USPS workers protest loss of services in Bradenton

BRADENTON — Postal workers warned Thursday that if people don’t start paying attention to what they described as the degradation of the postal service, in five or 10 years the industry will look completely different, and not in a good way.

“By outsourcing a little bit here, a little bit there, downgrading over time — I mean, you used to be able to get a letter in Bradenton, you could mail it today and get it tomorrow,” sad Deborah Smith, president of the Manatee-area local of the American Postal Workers Union. “Now that’s taking two or three days, because that mail is having to travel, because of this downsizing and the services being cut.”

Read more: U.S. Postal Service workers protest loss of services in Bradenton | Local News | Bradenton Herald

Senator Tester tells Megan Brennan new USPS service standards are a disaster

(U.S. SENATE)-Senator Jon Tester today met incoming Postmaster General Megan Brennan for the first time to discuss strengthening the Postal Service and the need to improve delivery standards in rural states like Montana.

Tester emphasized the Postal Service’s delivery standards have become a disaster for USPS and for the Montana families that rely on the Postal Service to deliver medication, election ballots and ultimately, to stay connected. He also voiced the need to reform funding of the Postal Service’s employees’ retiree health benefits to maximize returns and limit the waste of current funds.

“I live in the sticks and I’m telling you the Postal Service is critically important for rural America. Folks around the country rely on the mail every day for essential deliveries,” Tester said. “I was pleased to meet Ms. Brennan and I look forward to continuing our dialogue to restore mail delivery standards in rural America.”

Tester highlighted that closing processing plants and cutting service standards will greatly impact the speed of delivery around the country. Since 2011, 141 mail processing facilities have been closed, including six in Montana. Eighty-two more facilities are expected to close by September of this year – a plan that Tester calls “short-sighted.”

Tester is a member of the Senate’s Governmental Affairs Committee that oversees the Postal Service. He has been critical of the previous Postmaster General for taking steps to privatize the agency and opposed the committee’s postal reform bill because it did not preserve strong enough mail delivery standards in rural America or adequately support postal workers.

This week Tester sent a letter to Brennan calling on the USPS to ensure accuracy, as well as its accountability to others, when tracking how long it takes for mail to get from place to place.