2012 January 27 - postalnews blog

Archive for January 27th, 2012

USPS, NAPUS and League Agree to Postmaster Pay Talks Extension

An agreement has been reached between the Postal Service and the two Postmaster organizations (NAPUS and the League of Postmasters) to extend Postmaster pay talks until February 29, 2012. The original deadline for discussions on pay and benefits for Postmaster for Fiscal Years 2011-2015 was scheduled to end on January 27, 2012.

NAPUS President Bob Rapoza said that the talks should continue as long as meaningful discussions continue to move forward. Both organizational Presidents jointly notified the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) that the Postal Service had agreed to extend the discussions until the end of February. A decision on whether the two Postmaster organizations will request a resumption of the mediation process will be made after that date.

Talks continue to focus on minimum and maximum salary range improvements, health benefits contribution rates and changes to the Performance Evaluation System (PES.) Please check the NAPUS website for updates.

Charlie Moser

January 26, 2012

via NAPUS.

APWU: Senate to Vote on Postal Bill; Members Must Take Action NOW!

From the American Postal Workers Union:

The APWU has learned that the Senate will consider postal legislation very soon, and President Cliff Guffey is asking union members to contact their senators immediately and tell them that the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789) is unacceptable in its current form. “The stakes couldn’t be higher,” Guffey said.

As currently written, the bill would give the USPS some short-term financial relief, but also would inflict long-term damage to the nation’s mail system, he said.

“The bill would force the Postal Service to close hundreds of mail processing centers, shut thousands of post offices, and cause massive delays in mail delivery,” the APWU president said. “By failing to give more substantial financial relief, the bill would weaken the Postal Service, kill jobs, and drive customers away,” he added.

Call Your Senators:

202-224-3121

(Capitol Switchboard)

Tell them you oppose

S. 1789 as it is currently written.

“APWU members have done an outstanding job of expressing our concerns to their senators and representatives,” Guffey added. “At this critical time, union members must continue to let them know where we stand.”

The union is seeking support for amendments to:

  • Set strict service standards. (This is crucial, because the Postal Service is planning to degrade delivery standards in order to eliminate more than half of all mail processing facilities.)
  • Allow the USPS to recover overpayments the Postal Service made to its retiree pension funds.
  • Adequately address the requirement that forces the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits.
  • (This mandate is the primary cause of the agency’s financial crisis. No other government agency or private company bears this burden, which costs the USPS approximately $5.5 billion annually.)
  • Establish new ways to generate revenue, such as providing notary services, issuing licenses, contracting with state and local agencies to provide services, and allowing the USPS to offer services that mail systems in many other countries provide, such as digital services.
  • Prevent the closing of small post offices by giving the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent closures based on the effect on the community and employees.
  • Protect six-day delivery.
  • Eliminate the provision that would drastically reduce the compensation of workers who are injured on duty once they reach retirement age.
  • Repeal the provision that would require arbitrators in postal contract negotiations to consider the financial health of the USPS. (Postal unions note that arbitrators routinely do so, and criticize the provision as an attempt to skew contract negotiations in favor of management.)

“We must not allow this bill to destroy service to the American people,” Guffey said.

via Senate to Vote on Postal Bill; APWU Members Must Take Action NOW!.

NALC says letter carriers blocked floor vote on S. 1789

The National Association of Letter Carriers has told members of its eActivist Network that their calls will prevent Senator Joe Lieberman’s postal reform bill from receiving a floor vote next week. The NALC opposes the provision in the bill that would allow the USPS to cut Saturday deliveries.

Dear Supporter,

Thanks to you and your brothers and sisters across the country, S. 1789 will not be brought to the Senate floor next week. We were successful in delaying a floor vote on S. 1789 because letter carriers called their senators and urged them to oppose the bill in its current form.

S. 1789 is still on the docket, though, and it might be brought up in the near future. Therefore, it is imperative that you continue to check your e-mail and the NALC website for the most up-to-date information regarding further action on S. 1789.

The NALC is continuing to work with Senate leadership and our allies in the Senate to reform the bill before the Senate considers it for passage.

This week, you did your part to protect the future of the United States Postal Service and, when I call on you again, I know you will take action to keep the pressure on the Senate to do the right thing.

Thank you for your continued efforts.

In Solidarity,

Fredric V. Rolando, President

National Association of Letter Carriers

U.S. Postal Service Launches Express Mail Flat Rate Box

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2012 — Expanding on the success of its line of Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, the U.S. Postal Service has introduced the first Express Mail Flat Rate Box.

Ideal for consumers and small businesses selling merchandise online, the Postal Service’s Express Mail Flat Rate Box takes the guess work out of shipping, providing overnight delivery — up to 70 pounds — almost anywhere in the country for $39.95.

“With the Express Mail Flat Rate Box, there’s no need to use a zone chart to calculate prices. If it fits, it ships,” said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products. “The Express Mail Flat Rate Box offers convenience, ease of use, free packaging and a flat-out value price.”

Express Mail Flat Rate Boxes also can be used for international shipments with a maximum weight of 20 pounds. The boxes are priced at $59.95 to Canada and $74.95 for all other countries that accept Express Mail International.

The Express Mail Flat Rate Box rounds out the Express Mail Flat Rate product line, which includes an Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope and an Express Mail Flat Rate Legal Envelope, both retailing for $18.95.

The same size as the medium Priority Mail Flat Rate Box, the Express Mail Flat Rate Box is available in a top-loading or side-loading design. The boxes can be ordered online at usps.com and also are available at select Post Offices.

Express Mail service offers a money-back guarantee (some restrictions apply) and overnight delivery to most U.S. addresses, including PO Boxes. Express Mail is delivered 365 days a year with no Saturday delivery charges, residential surcharges or fuel surcharges. Sunday and holiday delivery is available to many ZIP codes for a modest premium.

Free Package Pickup and delivery status information using the Track & Confirm tool are available at no cost when shipping online at usps.com.

Congressional Budget Office says Senate postal reform bill would cost $6.3 billion over ten years

The Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis of S. 1789, the postal reform legislation introduced by Senator Joe Lieberman, and co-sponsored by Senators Tom Carper, Scott Brown and Susan Collins:

SUMMARY

S. 1789 would change the laws that govern the operation of the United States Postal Service (USPS). Major provisions of the bill would:

  •  Transfer more than $11 billion in surplus retirement contributions from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF) to the Postal Service Fund;
  • Change the payments that the Postal Service is required to make to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund (PSRHBF);
  • Permit the Postal Service to reduce mail delivery from six days per week to five;
  • Authorize the Postal Service to offer employees credit for additional years of service as an incentive to retire; and
  • Reduce payments to most federal workers receiving benefits under the Federal Employees¡¦ Compensation Act (FECA) and reform the administration of that act.

In addition, other provisions of S. 1789 would aim to help the Postal Service reduce its costs and increase its revenues.

CBO estimates that enacting the bill would result in off-budget savings of $25.6 billion over the 2012-2022 period and on-budget costs totaling about $31.9 billion. (USPS cash flows are recorded in the federal budget in the Postal Service Fund and are classified as off-budget, while the cash flows of the PSRHBF, CSRDF, and the FECA account are on-budget.)

Combining those effects, CBO estimates that the net cost to the unified budget of enacting S. 1789 would be $6.3 billion over the 2012-2022 period. All of those effects reflect changes in direct spending. In addition, we estimate that enacting S. 1789 would decrease revenues by $15 million over the 2012-2015 period. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting the legislation would increase on-budget direct spending and decrease revenues.

Here’s the full report:

CBO Analysis of S. 1789

Video: Future of the Post Office- PMG Donahoe responds to Issa

Future of the Post Office.

Congressman Lynch Joins Higgins in Fight Against Closing of Buffalo Mail Processing Facility

Office of Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) News Release

Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (MA-9) is joining Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) in asking the U.S. Postmaster General to remove the Buffalo Mail Processing facility from the list of those slated for closure. Congressman Lynch is a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where he serves as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy.

“Congressman Lynch understands the struggles of hard-working communities and the devastating economic impact closing the Buffalo facility would have on families and businesses in Western New York,” said Higgins. “We are thankful to add the Congressman’s name to the hundreds of others locally who are fighting to keep the William Street plant open.”

“The Buffalo Processing and Distribution Center plays a key role in western New York’s economy and its closure could have serious economic ramifications for the entire region,” Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said. “Based on the U.S. Postal Service’s own criteria for closing facilities, it makes no sense that the Buffalo facility should be closed. I join with my colleague, Congressman Brian Higgins, in asking that it be removed from consideration for closure.”

Prior to serving in Congress, Lynch worked as an ironworker for 18 years at sites across the country and was eventually elected president of his local union. Congressman Lynch is the son of a postal clerk.

Below is a copy of the letter sent jointly by Congressmembers Higgins and Lynch:

January 26, 2012

The Honorable Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington D.C. 20260-3500

Dear Postmaster General Donahoe,

We write in strong opposition to the potential closing of the Buffalo Processing and Distribution Center (Buffalo P&DC) and respectfully urge you to remove this site from the United States Postal Service’s list of Area Mail Processing facilities that could be subject to consolidation. Importantly, the Buffalo P&DC plays a vital economic, service, and community role in the Western New York region and its continued operation is essential to the economic vitality of the City of Buffalo and its surrounding areas, all of which depend on this facility as an invaluable source of employment, commercial stimulus, and exceptional delivery standards.

In examining the consolidation and closure of any mail processing or retail facility, we believe that USPS must consider all relevant factors prior to reaching a determination that a site will subject to such action. In particular, due diligence requires that the Postal Service afford maximum consideration to the overall impact of a decision on local residents, postal employees, businesses, and the affected community at-large. Included among the variety of factors that must be taken into account is the economic importance of the facility to the continued vitality of the region. In this regard, the Buffalo PD&C is essential to maintaining economic growth in the City of Buffalo and the greater Western New York area.

Specifically, in September of 2011, the United States Postal Service (USPS) recognized the Buffalo Niagara region as a gold medal award winner for its practices that “create business growth opportunities for the Postal Service.” Given that the Buffalo P&DC currently employs over 700 postal employees and generates significant regional economic activity in terms of labor income and tax revenue, the presence of this facility has been a critical factor behind such economic growth. In addition, with the recent announcement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address, that $1 billion will be invested in the Buffalo area for economic development, it is clear that the continued operation of the Buffalo P&DC will be essential as the Western New York region undertakes efforts to enhance economic, business, and employment opportunities in the area. Moreover, this important facility is located in the second-largest city in the State of New York and as such, is integral to USPS’s commitment to providing exceptional delivery to a significant customer base that not only consists of the greater Buffalo residential and business population but also customers in surrounding areas.

Regrettably, a recent Area Mail Processing Feasibility Study for the Buffalo PD&C and an advisory opinion issued by the Postal Regulatory Commission N2001-1 on the USPS’s Retail Access Optimization Initiative indicate that the USPS has not considered several relevant factors before placing the facility on its consolidation study list.

Ruth Goldway, the Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission stated in respect to the PRC opinion from December of 2011 that “The Commission was unanimous in expressing its concern that the Postal Service’s plan did not and could not, because of a lack of data and analysis, determine the facilities most likely to serve the greatest number, reduce the greatest costs, or enhance the potential for growth or stability of the system.” This advisory opinion in regards to retail locations illustrates a need for greater analysis and data collection by the USPS in their review processes.

In addition, the Area Mail Processing Feasibility Study that was released on December 20, 2011 contained one page of data on the savings to the USPS that closing the Buffalo PD&C would realize. That data was subsequently updated and proven to be contradictory to the original statements of the USPS in terms of total positions impacted, savings in management, transportation, and maintenance, all while providing no data on the economic impact on the community. International commerce and trade are never mentioned in the report though over 30 million pieces of mail from Canada are processed at the facility every week.

We applaud the decision by USPS to place a 5-month moratorium on the consolidation and closure of mail facilities through May 15, 2012. However, given the economic detriment, employee displacement, and disruption of service to the Buffalo Region that would result from the consolidation of the Buffalo P&DC, we again urge you to remove the facility from your list of potential consolidation sites. In the intervening time, we also ask that the consolidation study undertaken by USPS in relation to the Buffalo PD&C includes a review of all relevant data and analytical tools in order to ensure maximum input from postal stakeholders and residents in the Western New York community.

Sincerely,

PMG responds to Issa on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” at 8AM EST

From CNBC:

WHEN: FRIDAY, JANUARY 27TH AT 8AM ET

WHERE: CNBC’S “SQUAWK BOX”

In a CNBC interview, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe will respond to comments made earlier this week on “Squawk Box” by Rep. Darrell Issa regarding the Post Office and its reforms. Following is a link to CNBC’s interview with Rep. Darrell Issa: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000068423

More: CNBC MEDIA ALERT: POSTMASTER GENERAL & CEO PATRICK DONAHOE ON CNBC’S “SQUAWK BOX” TOMORROW – CNBC.