2011 April - postalnews blog

Archive for April, 2011

Royal Divorce stamp?

Now that William and Kate are married, you can be prepared for any possible royal “eventuality” with a new set of stamps from the South Pacific island of Niue that allows you to “tear asunder” what God hath joined together. Niue’s wedding commemoratives picture the royal couple together, but with a convenient perforation that allows you to rip them apart!

As the BBC reported:

The leader of the Pacific nation of Niue has mounted a robust defence of stamps marking Britain’s royal wedding which have a perforated line that splits the happy couple.

Premier Toke Talagi admitted the stamps were "unusual" but said they showed Niue was celebrating the marriage.

The stamps are sold as a pair for NZ$5.80 ($4.53, £2.79), but can be torn down the middle.

Prince William’s stamp is NZ$3.40 and Kate Middleton’s is cheaper at NZ$2.40.

via BBC News – Royal wedding: Niue defends stamp that ‘splits’ couple.

Postmasters ask PRC to block proposed changes to PO closing rules

The League of Postmasters and NAPUS have sent the following letter and legal opinion to PRC chair Ruth Godway outlining their opposition to the USPS’s proposed changes to the rules governing post office closings:

Dear Chairman Goldway:

This purpose of this letter is to convey to the Commission the views of the National League of Postmasters and the National Association of Postmasters of the United States on the proposed Postal Services regulations seeking to amend Part 241 of Title 39 of the CRF, released by the Postal Service on March 31, 2011 at 76 Fed Reg. 17794. That Part contains the Postal Service’s regulations on Post Office organization and administration, including the establishment, classification, and discontinuance of post offices.

First, we believe that the proposed Postal Service regulations are fundamentally inconsistent not only with the spirit, but also with the actual language of the underlying statute. We base our view on the attached opinion letter from Harold Hughes, of the law firm of Ford & Huff. Mr. Hughes is a former General Counsel of the Postal Service, and served by direct appointment to six Postmasters Generals. His opinion letter concludes that “the Proposed Rules are in significant conflict with applicable law.”

Second, in addition to the illegality of the proposed regulations, we believe that the proposal fundamentally contradicts Congress’ concern with the impact that the closing or consolidating of post offices has on the affected communities, particularly in small towns and rural areas. Importantly, Congress was not only concerned about how Post Office closures reduce postal services, but Congress also expressed deep concern about the non-postal consequences of closures and consolidations. In fact, the Commission recognized the possibility of such adverse results, when it recently retained the Urban Institute to evaluate how closures influence community dynamics and the economic sustainability of the affected locality.

The Congressional intent of those statutes was not to give notice of a decision that had been made by the Postal Service, but to give notice that the Postal Service was thinking of making a decision, so that the local citizenry would be informed and thus could intelligently discuss with the Postal Service how their communities would be affected. This would allow the Postal Service to make an informed decision, based on data obtained from the community. The Postal Service was to act in the public interest – not its sole interest – in these matters, taking into account all the interests of the community. In the matter of Bill, Wyoming, PRC Docket No. A 79-22 (October 18, 1979) at 9.

Senatorial concern with the nonpostal effects of closings and consolidations was broad and bipartisan. This anxiety was expressed during the 1976 floor debate about whether the now-statutory post office closing provisions should be added to the bill that was before the Senate. These provisions were adopted and the bill passed the Senate, ultimately becoming the 1976 amendments to the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.

The 1976 floor debate in support of the Randolph amendments was definitive, bipartisan, and broad. For instance, Senator Randolph (D-WV), the architect of the post office closing provisions said:

. . . I look on those offices . . . as representative of the Federal Government from the standpoint of actual day-by-day service, not just for the patrons of the offices, but also for the people of those communities who are helped by the postmaster.

These postmasters–men and women–are, in a sense, counselors to so many people. They help, in many ways with the filling out of forms and reports, and they represent what I believe is the human side of the Government . . . They strive daily to help citizens generally across a broad front.

122 Cong. Rec. 27092 (August 23, 1976). Likewise, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), who helped craft the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act, said:

We are aware that the U.S. Postal Service and its local post offices perform many functions which in reality have nothing to do with delivering the mail. No other Federal agency touches the lives of every American every day like the U.S. Postal Service does. For millions of Americans, the U.S. Postal Service is the only Federal agency with which they come in contact. The USPS to them is a government symbol and in important part of the Federal Government. In rural America there are hundreds and thousands, indeed GAO maintains there are 12,000, of post offices which in fact do not need to exist in order for the U.S. Postal Service to carry out its function of delivering the mail. On the other hand, they are needed for economic, social, and cultural benefits of rural America . . . Post offices provide a public service which I do not feel should be eliminated. These examples point up the need to maintain post offices even when mail can be delivered through another method.

Id. at 27128.

Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) strongly supported Senator Randolph:

I say to the Senator from Alaska that you only have to see a State of that kind to appreciate what the Senator from West Virginia [Sen. Randolph] is trying to get to. They are all out there, little fishing villages hither and yon, and the central gathering point is our little post office. That jells them together into a community. I think that is valuable to America . . . .

Id. at 27107. Senator Robert Packwood (R-OR) echoed that sentiment:

I believe that small post offices serve a necessary social function. They are a hub of small communities, and are often the only Federal agency in town to give needed information
on taxes, social security, civil service, and other public service materials. These rural post offices are necessary services.

122 Cong. Rec. 27427 (August 24, 1976). Senator Gale McGee (D-WY) Chairman of the Senate Post Office and Civil Service Committee and an author of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, confirmed his view of “the importance of rural post offices everywhere in America, as a symbol much larger than just postal services.” 122 Cong Rec. at 27092 (August 23, 1976)

In essence, Congress determined that the post office closing laws protect a public interest much broader than the provision of postal services. The Commission has recognized this protection in its case law, most clearly articulated and incorporated into its jurisprudence in the seminal Lone Grove case:

There is nothing inherent in the broad term “effect” which would limit its application to consequences directly connected with a change in postal Service patterns. . . If Congress had intended to limit the consideration of community effects to those caused by changes in mail service patterns, it could have omitted § 404(b)(2)(A) altogether and rested on the provision just quoted. . . . We think that the structure of § 404(b) as a whole thus supports the view that § 404(b)(2)(A) was intended to encompass effects on the community other than those causally linked with the change in postal service patterns. . . .In view of this legislative history, it seems to us incontestable that the Service was intended to consider community effects not connected with the rendering of postal Services.

In the Matter of Lone Grove, Docket A79-1, May 7, 1979 at 10, 13, 16. See also In the Matter of Woolsey, Georgia:

In Lone Grove . . .the Commission concluded that the Postal Service is required, as a matter of law, to make an independent inquiry into nonpostal effects of closings or consolidations and its determination to effect such a closing or consolidation must demonstrate that such an inquiry was made. We specifically pointed to several examples involving business, economic and social effects which we believed were necessary areas for Postal Service inquiry.”)

In the Matter of Woolsey, Georgia, Docket A82-1, May 14, 1982 at 7.

Finally, the point Senator Stevens made back in 1976 about the importance of post offices and postmasters being the visible face of the government and of government services, is still with us today, as the testimony of both NAPUS and the League have shown over the last several years. There is a video in the Commission’s files that was submitted during the Commission’s USO proceeding that visually documents a current example of this very phenomena in Horatio, South Carolina. The video is entitled Post Roads, and it may also be found at:
https://www.postmasters.org/legislation/rural%20post%20offices.wmv .

Some may argue that the provision of other broad services to small rural communities has no place in a modern Postal Service. That, however, is not what the legislative history of the post office discontinuance statue demonstrates. Congress fully understood that, unlike urban areas, governmental assistance in rural areas is only available through the local Postal Service and its postmasters. Consequently, it is up to Congress, and not the Postal Service, to decide that the Postal Service should abandon these critical roles. While the Postal Service may feel that spending 7/10s of one percent of its budget to serve small towns and rural America is too great a price to pay, that is not its call to make. Unless and until those provisions are removed, and this country’s postal policy changed, the Postal Service must comply with the existing law.

Should you have any questions or need any further information, please contact either or both of us. Thank you for considering our views.

Sincerely,

Robert Rapoza
President
National Association of Postmasters of the
United States

Mark Strong
President
National League of Postmasters

Hughes Letter

PRC Letter.pdf application/pdf Object.

Giselle Valera named USPS VP and Managing Director, Global Business

Postcom reports that Giselle Valera has been named to replace Pranab Shah as USPS VP and Managing Director, Global Business. Shah retired recently after just three months on the job. Valera was previously the USPS Executive Director, Global Finance and Business Analysis.

via PostCom: Postal News and Information from Around the World.

APWU: Additional Questions and Answers About the Tentative Agreement

APWU Web News Article 048-2011, April 28, 2011

Questions have been posed on the APWU’s Facebook page about the Tentative Agreement for a new contract. Below, union officers address some recent questions.

Question: Could new Non-Traditional Full-Time jobs be scheduled six days a week?

Answer: Clerk Craft NTFT assignments could be created as six-day assignments where necessary to create a desirable duty assignment for employees to bid (for example, at a small Post Office that is open six days per week). This type of schedule would not be permitted in a mail processing operation or in any installation that has 200 man-years or more of employment.*

The local union would have the opportunity to work with local management to assure that full-time assignments are maximized while at the same time protecting the desirability of the assignments which are posted.

No current Full-Time Regular employee can ever be involuntarily assigned to a posted duty assignment of six work days.

*Whether a facility qualifies as a 200 man-year office is determined by adding all paid hours for USPS career employees in crafts represented by the APWU, the National Association of Letter Carriers, and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and dividing by 2,080. If the result is 200 or more, the office qualifies as a 200 man-year office. The measure is based on the 12-months preceding the beginning of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The determination remains in effect throughout the life of the agreement. Paid hours include work hours, overtime, and leave hours.

Question: Are there any changes pertaining to janitorial or custodial Part-Time Regulars being converted to Full-Time Regulars? If so, when will this happen?

Answer: There were no changes involving PTR custodians becoming FTR or vice-versa.

via Additional Questions and Answers About the Tentative Agreement.

The USPS and Royal Mail Team Up to Sell Official Royal Wedding Collectibles

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — When the royal wedding of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton takes place Friday, the U.S. Postal Service and British Royal Mail will help you join in the worldwide celebration. A limited supply of Official Royal Wedding collectibles not for mailing goes on sale tomorrow on the Postal Store, www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800 782-6724.

The Royal Wedding Presentation Pack is a beautifully illustrated brochure which includes a miniature sheet of The Royal Wedding stamps and features the story of how Prince William and Catherine Middleton met. The color photographs make this a superb keepsake, which sells for $7.95.

Produced by Royal Mail, Great Britain’s postal service, the official Royal Wedding Miniature Sheet features four stamps of two different engagement photographs of the royal couple and displays Prince William’s coat of arms. The stamp images feature two official engagement portraits of the royal couple, taken by world-renowned photographer Mario Testino: a formal image of the pair photographed in the Council Chamber of St. James’s Palace and an informal image showing the couple embracing in the Palace’s Cornwall room. Each sheet costs $6.95.

Also available is the Royal Wedding Digital Color Postmark Souvenir Cover. Created by the Postal Service, the souvenir cover’s postmark features a crown, a furling British flag and the couple’s wedding date, April 29, 2011. Each postmark costs $4.95 and comes on a No. 10 envelope affixed with a Wedding Roses Forever Stamp and two Royal Wedding stamps issued by Royal Mail. Click here for an image of the postmark.

Again, customers can order the Royal Wedding collectible products on The Postal Store website, www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800 782-6724. Supplies of each item are limited.

To learn more about the Postal Service’s Stamp Program, visit http://beyondtheperf.com.

Hallmark Introduces Postage-Paid Greetings for Mother’s Day

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 26, 2011 — Mother’s Day is for giving mom thanks for all she’s given; and now, thanking mom is easier with card innovations from Hallmark. New for Mother’s Day 2011, Hallmark is offering Postage-Paid Greetings — a line of cards that already includes postage. Just sign, seal and send!

"Mother’s Day is an opportunity to pause and celebrate the perfectly, imperfect moments we share with mom 365 days a year — moments that make motherhood and life meaningful," said Molly Wigand, Hallmark writer. "By offering Postage-Paid Greetings and other innovative cards, Hallmark is making it easier for consumers to celebrate these meaningful moments."

Hallmark Postage-Paid Greetings feature the U.S. Postal Service’s Intelligent Mail barcode on the front of the envelope. When the cards are processed at a Postal Service facility, the barcode automatically indicates to the Postal Service the postage is paid. The postage is treated like a Forever Stamp, and its value will always be equal to the price of a standard First-Class stamp, regardless of when it’s mailed. There are more than 90 Postage-Paid Greetings specifically for Mother’s Day and more than 200 "everyday" and seasonal Postage-Paid Greetings ranging from $2.69 to $3.99.

For those who want to hand deliver a Mother’s Day card or affix their own stamp, Hallmark offers a variety of innovative card solutions that do not include postage but still offer convenience. Mother’s Day Gift Card Greetings already come with a gift — a $5 or $10 gift card to a variety of destinations.

Other cards like Recordable Greetings give mom the gift of personalization — her loved one’s voice. And richly-designed Boutique Greetings, some which come with gem-like adornments, allow consumers to give mom a card as pretty on the outside as she is on the inside.

Hallmark offers more than 900 Mother’s Day cards, including cards from the Hallmark Sinceramente and Mahogany card lines, as well as cards for moms, grandmothers, step-mothers, aunts, daughters and other important women.

Mother’s Day Facts

  • Mother’s Day is the third-largest card-sending holiday in the United States with 139 million cards exchanged annually

  • Hallmark has been producing Mother’s Day cards since the early 1920′s

USPS to use video recordings of carriers in upcoming NALC contract talks

According to a document posted on FederalSoup.com, the US Postal Service plans to make video recordings of four hundred city carriers in order to ” identify the start and stop point of each activity and determine the actual time used.” The information will be used by the USPS in upcoming contract talks with the NALC

This is notification that the Postal Service will conduct a review of city letter carrier office activities beginning April 25. The review will involve data collection and analysis of all office activities on selected routes for one day, with the route serviced by the regular carrier or carrier technician. It is anticipated that this assessment will take approximately nine weeks and involve 400 city letter carrier routes.

A stratified sampling plan was used to randomly select delivery units within each Area. To qualify, delivery units must contain at least ten city letter carrier routes. Four routes from each selected delivery unit will be randomly chosen for review.

During the review, mail volume will be recorded and cameras will be used to record time spent on office tasks. This information will be used to identify the start and stop point of each activity and determine the actual time used. The data is being collected in preparation for upcoming collective bargaining.

Cameras Memo

Burrus: Agreement is Not Fair

From former APWU President Bill Burrus:

As you are aware, I have expressed my opinion that the tentative agreement is not fair to employees who will be hired in the future because it dramatically reduces their income and they are denied an opportunity to make a decision if the contractual changes are of equal value to the more than $200,000 in wage and retirement losses that they will each experience. Notwithstanding my reservations, I expect the agreement to be ratified and I choose not to express an opinion of the reasons. Each member casting a ballot is entitled to apply his/her individual decision and I do not pass judgment on their reasons. As a retiree, I will not personally be affected by the new agreement and those that will follow but it is my firm opinion that this contract will begin a new era of postal employment in the crafts represented by APWU. Read the rest of this entry »

USPS Launches Parcel Select regional Ground

Commercial shippers seeking an economical solution for delivery of small packages now have a new service available from the U.S. Postal Service — Parcel Select Regional Ground.

Introduced April 17, Parcel Select Regional Ground offers competitive pricing for high-volume business-to-consumer shippers. For deliveries of small packages within short -range destination zones, Parcel Select Regional Ground can provide big savings for qualified commercial shippers.

“This new service is designed as a solution for e-commerce merchants looking to boost sales by offering free or discounted shipping charges for online purchases,” said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products. “It has tremendous appeal for commercial shippers requiring a cost-effective ground service for delivery of packages over shorter distances.”

Shippers choosing Parcel Select Regional Ground must have a customer commitment agreement with the Postal Service and meet annual volume commitments of 10,000 mailpieces. Also, each mailpiece must be machinable, weigh 5 pounds or less, measure 0.35 cubic foot or less, and use an Intelligent Mail package barcode or Confirmation Services barcode. Click here for additional details and pricing information.

Delivery Confirmation service is included at no additional cost. Insurance, Signature Confirmation and Hold For Pickup services also are available.

Pricing is based on entry at designated USPS sectional center facilities or Network Distribution Centers. Parcel Select Regional Ground is available for commercial customers who use electronic manifesting and pay postage through permit imprint.

For more information, commercial customers can contact their Postal Service account manager or the Office of Commercial Pricing at commercialpricing@usps.gov.

via USPS News Link – April 21, 2011.

Wedding Roses stamp goes on sale

On April 21, 2011, in Washington, DC, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Wedding Roses stamp as part of its Weddings series. The stamp is meant for use on the RSVP envelope often enclosed with a wedding invitation and on announcements, thank-you notes, and other correspondence.

Wedding ceremonies are as varied and distinctive as the people who celebrate them. They range from large formal services held inside to small and informal outdoor gatherings—and everything in between. Yet no matter the size and style of the ceremony, one thing remains certain: Weddings are a celebration of the union of two people who have pledged to love and trust one another as they begin a new life together.

The Wedding Roses stamp features a photograph taken by Renée Comet of Washington, D.C. The photograph shows two white roses gently resting atop a piece of wedding correspondence. A white ribbon is visible in the background.