NALC: Few surprises in first of two hearings on S. 1486

NALC-LOGOSept. 19, 2013—The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which has Postal Service oversight, held the first of two hearings today on the flawed postal bill, S. 1486, introduced by committee chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and ranking member Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

“If passed, this bill would set the Postal Service on downward spiral,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said, “by calling for the slow dismantling of Postal Service’s retail, mail processing and last-mile delivery networks that are crucial for the booming e-commerce sector, while maintaining the misguided 2006 postal reform law mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefit costs decades in advance.”

Today’s 2½-hour hearing focused mainly on rates and revenue. Among those called to testify before today’s hearing were Postmaster General Patrick Donahue, Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway, USPS Inspector General David Williams, American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey and National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association President Jeanette Dwyer.

During today’s hearing, the postmaster general told the committee that the Postal Service’s package business continues to grow dramatically and substantially, even as first-class mail revenue has declined.

But it’s probably no surprise, though, that even armed with this information, Donahue said he still fully supports S. 1486.

Meanwhile, Inspector General Williams noted that first-class mail declines are slowing as the economy continues to gradually recover, adding that USPS needs to embrace technology and better leverage its unique universal network.

On the question of whether the Postal Service should be allowed to reduce the number of days of delivery as proscribed by S. 1468, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), a staunch supporter of the Postal Service who serves on the committee, strongly disagreed with such a notion, saying that she believes six-day delivery is USPS’ competitive advantage.

“Package delivery is key,” she said. And she should know: “I spend a lot more time clicking, rather than driving, for shopping,” she added with a laugh.

PRC Chairman Goldway noted that the Postal Service is the address-master for America, with a database relied upon my first-responders as well as online markers.

“It’s a vital network,” she said, committed to providing universal service to all Americans, especially the one-third of postal customers who lack access to broadband Internet.

Perhaps most surprising were comments toward the end of the hearing from Sen. Coburn, who hasn’t exactly been seen as the biggest fan of the Postal Service’s employee unions. “We can make USPS viable,” he said, “but we can’t do it on the backs of the people who work for USPS.

“The Postal Service can’t shrink to survive,” he said.

The NALC will cover next Thursday’s hearing, too, watching to see what other surprises might emerge. You can click here to watch the proceedings live starting at 10 AM Eastern, or you can follow along as we live-tweet on the NALC’s Twitter feed.

 

  • Randy

    Solve USPS problems 1. Do away with prefunding, pay as you go is fairer. 2. Go to 5 day delivery, the employees want it and the customers can wait until Monday. 3. No USPS Health Plan, lets face it they know nothing about health insurance, FEHB is not broke and extremely efficient, why change? 4. Cut management staff, these people are just slowing the mail down with new rules, mandates, and stupid pronoucements on a daily basis, let the employees move the mail they way they have always done. 5. We need a slight rate increase accross the board to fund a new flett of delivery trucks. Summary….USPS got the employees to sacrifice and we have with no pay raise or COLA for the last 2 years. Now it is time for Congress to step up and compromise on a fair bill to all of the stakeholders.

    • Mike

      I agree with you Randy on all but one point. Go ahead and finish the prefunding… it only needs two more payments to be fully funded. You and I both know the USPS is not going to be adding employees in any consequential way, so once it’s fully funded, it’s done. I think what at the time seemed to be aimed at hurting the USPS, could end up being it’s saving grace. Despite the prefunding mandate the last 2 quarters have shown a total of $500 million in operating profits. Just think, when the prefunding mandate is complete, you can add $5.8 Billion to that operating profit. That’s why they tried so hard to push the USPS to a 5-day delivery. They were hoping to move the USPS to a 5-day schedule BEFORE the prefunding was complete. That way, when the USPS began to show billions in profits they could say “SEE, we saved the post office by going to 5-day delivery!”

      • Rog917

        The prefunding is already is fully funded.

      • Postal Observer

        The biggest problem to be solved is Downahole needs to be removed now or no reform bill will save the Postal Service.

  • pokeybird

    Never go to 6 day!

    • pokeybird

      I mean 5 day

      • Will

        You subcontiously know 5 day is a bad business decision. It’s just your selfish need.

  • mel

    most employees and most customers want 5 day. I have worked on a business route and am now on a residential. When I worked on a business route they even couldn’t understand why we were still opened on a saturday. Residential customers go away for the weekend, whether it be camping or whatever, and would love to have no mail to worry about saturday

    • Mike

      where I am at our mail volume is VERY good. A typical Monday will include 5500+ DPS, 1000+ flats, 35-45 spr’s and usually an EDDM or other monthly F/C. We have 15 or so monthly full coverages, plus several EDDM’s. In fact, we had two different EDDM’s from the same company. Talk about deja vu! So for us, 5 day would be very tough. Mondays are usually our lightest parcel day, though the daily parcel avg is close to 50.

      • Nalc

        Then routes need to be cut, adding new routes to your office!

  • Miguel

    Parcel delivery is, in my view, is the most critical opportunity the USPS has, along with it’s 6 day service. The USPS delivers MANY UPS parcels and most likely will become the delivery provider of choice when the internet tax is fully implemented. WHY? Retailers will be looking for a way to reduce costs by 8% to offset the increase in sales tax. With the USPS aggressive marketing of the “if it fits it ships” campaign this is a HUGE opportunity for the USPS. ALL ABOARD!!!

  • Tyson

    Morons at NALC will leave us all upstream without a paddle, because they refuse to give on 5 day delivery. Pay cuts and slashes in benefits WILL happen to pay for the unnecessary sixth day of mail delivery.

    • Yashikua

      Tyson your assuming these blind followers can have taken the time to read the language on these different bills. They won’t agree with you until it is too late. I predict 15-20% pay cuts across the board minimum.

  • Easy Rider

    When this PAEA bill was passed in 2006, we were required to prefund 75 years of healthcare retirement for 800.000 employees. Now we are down to around 550.000 employees. The government wants us to pay for 250.000 employees we no longer will have. We should have more than enough in this fund since there will be far fewer employees. Why hasn’t this been addressed? Where are you Donahoe? Why isn’t the truth being told? We are funding other parts of the government and are being fed a lie by our PMG and congress.

  • Ace

    The one thing that seems to get missed in any conversation regarding the post office or its unions is a “Accountability”. Simply make each route driver accountable for there own route each day through a fair semi-annual evaluation process. This is already performed with rural carriers, why not every other carrier class as well. The efficiencies that could come out if it would be amazing! The other thing that is never mentioned is “Family”. If you are a postal employee right now, you are forced to work late almost every day and perpetually work 6 days a week. How can you enjoy your job, your life or your family if you rarely get time to recharge?

    • Eddie

      I couldn’t agree more Ace very well put!