Postal workers alliance sends letter to Issa opposing latest reform proposal

The four unions representing rank and file postal workers have sent the following letter to Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the Ranking Member:

alliance

Dear Mr. Issa and Mr. Cummings:

We write to share our views on the hearing held on April 8, 2014 on the President’s proposals in the FY 2015 budget regarding the U.S. Postal Service. We write on behalf of nearly 500,000 postal employees who live and work in every Congressional District in America and who belong to our unions. We respectfully request that this letter be included in the record of the hearing.

We strongly oppose major elements of the Administration’s proposed reforms as out‐dated and counterproductive to the goal of strengthening the Postal Service for the 21st Century. The USPS has strongly recovered over the past 18 months as the economy has bounced back and the e‐commerce boom has gathered pace. In the absence of the prefunding burden, the Service was profitable in 2013. Reducing deliveries and slashing the quality of service never made sense as a business strategy. Market research conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for USPS found that service cuts (ending Sat. service, etc.) would cause mail volume to fall by 7.7% and reduce revenue by nearly $5.3 billion – that is, by more than it would reduce costs. (See the attachment.) Now that the USPS is recovering and has eliminated some 75,000 career jobs since 2011, slashing service further makes even less sense. It would discourage businesses from partnering with the Postal Service.

Simply re‐amortizing the disastrous retiree health pre‐funding mandate that was enacted in 2006, and which accounts for more than 80% of the Postal Service’s losses since 2007, is totally unacceptable. “Kicking the can down the road” is not a solution to the Postal Service’s most pressing financial problem. The payments are unaffordable now; they will be unaffordable two years from now. The USPS has already set aside more than $50 billion for decades of future retiree health benefits. It’s time to repeal the pre‐funding burden that no other private or public enterprise in America faces (without taxpayer appropriations) or dramatically reduce the cost of that burden by enacting other reforms.

Congress should either implement the recommendations of the Postal Regulatory Commission’s independent audit of the postal CSRS account (Report on CSRS Pension Allocation Principles, Segal Company, November 22, 2010) or adopt FEHBP reforms that will reduce postal retiree health benefit costs. Any reform that fails to address the pre‐funding burden will doom the Postal Service to endless cycles of service and job cuts that will destroy this national treasure.

The administration’s proposal to allow the Postal Service to eliminate Saturday delivery was not developed after an independent analysis – it was driven by misleading data presented by the Postal Service to the PRC (later refuted by the attachment) and accepted as part of the Cantor‐Biden budget talks in 2011 aimed at reducing the budget deficit. It has shown up in every administration budget since then. Given that the Postal Service receives no taxpayer subsidy, we have always rejected service cuts aimed at improving the federal deficit measured on a unified basis.

But more importantly, it defies business sense. Saturday delivery makes the USPS unique in the delivery industry. American businesses operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and more than a third of the Postal Service’s customers say they want Saturday service. The Postal Service of the 21st Century must meet these business demands and many customers, like Amazon.com, have already begun to partner with the Postal Service to provide seven‐day delivery. The ability of USPS to provide this service at very affordable rates is made possible by the Postal Service’s shared networks for letter, flats, books, magazines and parcels.

Granting the Postal Service the right to end Saturday delivery, which the Postmaster General has advocated since 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis, would eliminate 81,000 jobs. Congress should not sacrifice these jobs or risk the long‐term survival of the Postal Service. The administration proposal to allow the USPS to phase out door delivery would severely damage the Postal Service’s business, by severing the revenue‐generating relationship letter carriers have with millions of small businesses and home‐based merchants and enterprises.

These relationships have helped the Postal Service generate billions in new shipping revenues through Customer Connect and Rural Reach. Ending door delivery to millions of businesses and 35 million households located in every Congressional District would be deeply unpopular with the American people and unnecessarily risk another 16,000 to 20,000 jobs.

The proposal to codify the Postal Service’s unpopular PostPlan, which has slashed retail office hours at more than 13,000 post offices located in rural communities and inner‐city neighborhoods, is also unacceptable. The relentless service cuts, downsizing and reductions to service standards in recent years has gone too far – Congress should seek ways to reverse these cuts in order strengthen the Postal Service, not codify them. Giving the Postal Service the freedom to provide new services through its networks and relieving the crushing burden of prefunding are the best ways to improve service and the long‐term viability of the Postal Service.

The administration offered some modestly positive proposals in its budget too, for which we are grateful. Mandating the use of postal‐specific assumptions to fairly calculate the surplus in the postal account in FERS makes sense – returning the surplus to the USPS would allow it to make much‐needed investments in new vehicles and new technology. The Postal Service has been starved of such investments – as every available dime has been irrationally directed to pre‐fund future retiree health.

We also support measures to free the Postal Service to offer new services that will generate new revenues to support universal service. The administration’s proposals to allow the Postal Service to deliver beer and wine through the mail and to collaborate with state and local governments to provide their services through the postal service’s retail network offer a good start on such measures.

The administration proposal to make the exigent case permanent is acceptable, though we note there are other pricing reforms that may make more business sense. Our unions remain open to exploring alternative reforms with Congress and the mailing industry that will strengthen the Postal Service, not weaken it.

At the hearing, Chairman Issa indicated that the Committee would seek to mark up a new bill based on the administration’s proposals. Although we welcome the apparent decision to set aside H.R. 2748, which we strongly oppose, we do not believe the Obama administration’s plan offers a viable way forward. Both H.R. 2748 and the President’s plans were devised at the height of the global financial crisis and proceed from the false premise that the internet is destroying the Postal Service. But it’s not 2009 anymore. The Postal Service has more than right‐sized itself in response to the decline in mail volume; it now faces staff shortages and inadequate capacity to maintain high quality service. Its operating finances have recovered as letter mail revenue has stabilized and e‐commerce volume is exploding.

Rather than slashing services in a way that will drive business away, it’s time for sensible, targeted reforms that will free the Postal Service to innovate and grow. These reforms should include a permanent fix to the pre‐funding burden as suggested above, the fair calculation of postal pension surpluses, suitable pricing reforms and new freedom to offer services through our existing networks to meet unmet public needs. These reforms would allow the Postal Service to do what our founding fathers intended when they established the Post Office in our Constitution: To bind the nation together and to adapt to meet the evolving needs of America’s citizens and businesses.

Sincerely,

___________________________________ ______________________________________
Fredric V. Rolando, President Mark Dimondstein, President
National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL‐CIO American Postal Workers Union, AFL‐CIO
___________________________________ ______________________________________
John F. Hegarty Jeanette Dwyer

National Postal Mail Handlers Union, AFL‐CIO National Rural Letter Carriers Association
  • know it all

    Unions quit your whinning these drastic changes are needed now. The unions want little change now, its not enough…. We will still be in the same poor financial situation with there mini little changes they want

    • Liam Skye

      Are they? Are drastic changes really needed? Since USPS is no longer losing money it would seem that more modest reforms would be appropriate.

      • postalworker1

        I KNO 1 THING WE(the 4 unions) should’ve became 1 UNION n united all of us togetherback when we went on strike,70.s,, I GUESS TO MUCH MONEY N POWER WOULD,VE HAD TO BE GIVEN UP, SO 4 UNIONS,,Y

        • JG4th

          and if you had learned not only how to spell but also how to structure an idea or sentence maybe someone would understand your crazy moonspeak…

  • Ryan wnorowski

    A bunch of guys that work Saturdays fighting tooth and nail to make sure the rest of have to. My god, pick a new topic. 3 years if shoving it down our throats that we should have to give up

    • Ryan wnorowski

      Don’t work Saturdays

  • nc

    you blow and go about Staples taking jobs what about all these Village post offices the USPS is trying and pushing to set up in towns where there are active post offices

    • Cindy White Volz

      The village post offices are also a big concern,
      but Staples has a lot more stores all over the country. They would cause much more damage right now.

      • JG4th

        More than the current agreement with Office Depot? How about all the Post Office Expresses in all the stop and go’s? UPS stores?

        • Cindy White Volz

          All of those things hurt the post office and in turn hurt those of us that are employed there. It’s frustrating to us all when the USPS refuses to acknowledge how much money we have to pay out for failed express mail, and the time it takes to fix a problem that started with an untrained non-postal worker. Staples is just their latest effort to privatize the USPS and we want to stop it before it gets too far off the ground. The other issues are still being fought against on a daily basis.

          • JG4th

            My point would be that you are closing the barn door after the horse left…. POE’s and CMRA’s and CPU’s have been around for decades, Costco Sells stamps so do most grocery stores… so why is Staples the focal point?

          • Cindy White Volz

            The APWU STILL fights about those things. And just because a grocery store sells stamps doesn’t mean they have a contract with the USPS. Anyone can go buy stamps and sell them. The CPUs and CRMAs are still problematic but it seems to be that we’ve already lost the fight there. Staples is the newest threat and we need to fight our battles as they arise.

          • JG4th

            one see’s it as a threat another see’s it as an additional revenue source…. I see no difference between Staples or Office Depot… btw CPU’s and CMRA’s have been around longer than your career… they were around when I carried mail decades ago

          • Cindy White Volz

            I’ve been at the post office for 35 years, and a union member since the day I passed probation. We wouldn’t have a problem with Staples if they used postal employees to man their postal counters. The same goes for the CPUs and CRMAs. Since you were a letter carrier, do you really understand the impact this would have on the clerks?

          • JG4th

            What is the difference between Staples and Office Depot?

          • Cindy White Volz

            The difference is, the USPS doesn’t have a contract with Office Depot. Our local just switched our account from Staples to Office Depot. I know we wouldn’t have gone with them if they had the same agreement as Staples does.

          • JG4th

            news(dot)officedepot(dot)com/press-release/corporatefinancial-news/us-postal-service-presents-office-depot-corporate-business-ach

            “Office Depot was honored for its commitment to a successful business partnership with the USPS, offering postal services and products within the Company’s retail store locations nationwide. Through this partnership that launched last August, Office Depot became the first national retailer to offer USPS shipping products and services at the same prices as the post office. Services offered in-store include: Priority Mail Flat Rate Service; Priority Mail® Service; Express Mail® Service; First-Class Mail® Service; and stamp purchases in books or large coils.”

          • Cindy White Volz

            My mistake, we went with Office Max not Office Depot. I was not aware that we were working with them. We don’t have any Office Depot stores in our area. I’m sure our national officers are aware of it, and I’ll be bringing it up at out next meeting. The thing is, why would we want to give away more of our work? As you’ve pointed out, we have already lost jobs to untrained non-postal workers. Every job we save is a win for us. I’m pretty sure that when you were a carrier, you wouldn’t have wanted the PO to give away YOUR job to people who weren’t postal workers. We just want to save the post office from being privatized. It would be bad for us and bad for the country.

          • JG4th

            Office Max is the same company…. and as to your question of lost jobs which is the more cost effective? City Carrier hunting for 5th day penalty? or someone that walks you up to a computer that takes care of the transaction?

            Which one has the greater percentage of revenue vs. cost…. as a Western Area VP once told me “Today is the best day of the rest of your Postal Service career, it will never be any better than it is today… Craig Wade”

          • Cindy White Volz

            I looked at both the Office Depot and the Office Max websites and while they may be part of the same company, Office Max is still operating with that name. I searched both sites and Office Depot offers postage stamps but no mention is made of any other postal services. Office Max doesn’t even sell postage stamps.
            I’m wondering if you didn’t make your way into management and that’s why you seem to think dismantling the Post Office isn’t a bad idea.

          • JG4th

            Each are entitled to their opinions…and their assumptions.. I have never been a proponent of dismantling the USPS.. but in the necessity to create more revenue sources to keep it viable at the lowest cost possible? if you owned the business what would you do? How would you increase revenues?

            I am sorry that you seem to feel that advancing oneself is a bad thing.. it states volumes.

            All I can say is I had the respect of EVERY NALC local president including the one that I served under as a shop steward… throughout my career.

          • Cindy White Volz

            How long ago was that? If you were still a carrier would you want the postal service to be giving your job away?

    • 1234heythere5

      Some of those contracts haven’t worked out so well

  • Adam

    Nobody cares if they get mail on Saturdays. If rates keep increasing, the postal service will be extinct soon. People don’t use the mail, businesses do. The higher the price, the quicker they move to digital…. 1st class mail is almost gone!

    • 1234heythere5

      It costs more to pay a bill through the internet for regular bills than to write a check and mail it. It also takes more time. In addition to pay bills online there is the cost of a computer and internet service. No one is going to purchase a computer or other electronic device for the sole purpose of paying bills. Some people don’t even want to own one if they had the money to do so.

    • MrPolarBear

      The Postal Service is the center of a TRILLION-DOLLAR mailing industry that employs
      more than 8 million people in the United States. The USPS receive zero tax
      dollars for operating expenses and rely on the sale of postage, products
      and services to fund operations.

      Mr Adams, People still use the Postal Industry, People order products online constantly. They are the ones that drive business. The package shipping alone has increased over 500 percent in the last ten years.

      Mr. Adam, that’s a TRILLION-DOLLAR industry. The mailing industry will not go extinct. However, I believe in time, the current Government controlled Postal Service in the US will. Sooner or later it might go privatized. In which case, I ask you, Mr. Adam. Do you know what the consequences are? Not many people know that in EVERY country that has privatized their Postal Service, the price of mailing has goneup and the service has gone down. EVERY COUNTRY. A good example is Canada. They privatized their Postal Service in the 70’s. Before they privatized, they were penny to penny the same rate with the US Postal Service. Now they charge a dollar to mail a first class letter that is half the weight as what the US charges 49 cents. They charge a dollar for a one ounce letter. The US Postal Service charges 49 cents for a two ounce letter. As for service. This year, The Canadian Privatized service has pass laws ending home delivery. Within four years in Canada you will have to pick up your mail at centralized boxes most of which are being placed in grocery stores. The clerks at the grocery stores are given the mail to sort into the boxes and mail is stolen constantly. Gift cards are too great of a temptation for minimum paid employees. So just an FYI for what will happen when the USPS goes privatized. If you don’t use the Postal Service, it won’t make a difference to you, however, for the millions of small businesses out there that mail exclusively with the USPS because of the lower cost compared to FedEx and UPS, it will hurt their business and many will close.