NALC statement on OIG’s report regarding USPS financial services

The U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report today on “The Road Ahead for Postal Financial Services.” Below is a statement from Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers:

NALC-LOGOThe OIG’s report contains interesting observations and recommendations on ways the Postal Service can begin to serve the needs of 68 million adults in this country who have either no access or only limited access to basic financial services.

Of particular interest are services that the Postal Service could immediately pursue since it already has the authority to provide such services as money orders, post-office-to-post-office money transfers, bill payment, check cashing, international remittances and automatic teller machine (ATM) access. These basic services would give a much-needed option to those with no alternative available in their communities.

Because post offices are located everywhere—urban centers, suburbs and rural America; not simply located according to profit models—they are a ready-made network for people to come to, to obtain affordable financial services administered by highly trained, experienced and trusted public servants. This infrastructure includes more than 30,000 post offices and is the largest, best-distributed physical network in the country.

This model has been successful in many other countries and has the potential, according to the OIG, to generate at least $1.1 billion of revenue annually, which would allow the Postal Service to continue its innovative efforts.

The OIG’s recommendations are a good place to start, and we urge the Postal Service to take steps to immediately pursue these opportunities to fill the unmet needs of those in underserved communities.

Source: NALC statement on OIG’s report regarding USPS financial services | National Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO

NALC President Fredric Rolando’s statement on USPS quarterly report

NALC-LOGO“Today’s results show the impressive Postal Service financial turnaround continuing in full force. The quarter’s $313 million operating profit puts black ink for the first half of the year above $1.4 billion – surpassing all of last year’s operating profit.

“Equally encouraging is what produced the operating profit – continuing revenue growth as an improving economy and rising online shopping drive better performances in letter mail and package deliveries. Package revenue is up a striking 11.2 percent this year; first-class letters and standard mail also are up.

“This three-year trend in operating profitability makes clear the need to strengthen – not degrade – the now-profitable networks. We hope to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the administration and the new postmaster general to build on the progress achieved in the last Congress, within the mailing industry and among major stakeholders on consensus postal reform that promotes a strong and vibrant Postal Service.

“The Postal Service, which is based in the Constitution, is a national treasure that provides Americans with the world’s most affordable delivery network without taxpayer money, and long has been the most trusted government agency – with widespread support from the public and lawmakers.”

Source: NALC President Fredric Rolando’s statement on USPS quarterly report | National Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO

Court dismisses twenty year old lawsuit against NALC

From the National Association of Letter Carriers:

NALC-LOGOOn March 27, 2015, the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, issued a 52-page decision in the 20-year-old lawsuit filed by letter carrier David Noble against the NALC and 12 former national officers, including President Emeritus William H. Young and the late President Emeritus Vincent R. Sombrotto. The District Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim that the former officers had improperly accepted a $500 monthly allowance for in-town expenses.

The in-town expenses issue was the only remaining issue involving the individual officers after a 2008 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which rejected Noble’s claim that the NALC Executive Council had improperly authorized the union’s payment of the employee share of FICA (Social Security) taxes for national officers and regional administrative assistants.

The Court of Appeals also rejected Noble’s challenge to the payment of per diem allowances to national officers who attend the NALC’s biennial conventions; however, the Court of Appeals did not issue a final ruling on the in-town expenses dispute. Instead, it returned that matter to the District Court for further findings.

This new District Court ruling responds to the Court of Appeals’ directive.

The District Court deferred for a later decision a single remaining issue involving Noble’s request to review NALC records.

Does the new PMG see the glass as half-full?

The following message from National Association of Letter Carriers Fred Rolando, appeared in the March 2015 Postal Record, published by the NALC:

NALC-LOGOYou can’t judge a new CEO on the basis of only one week on the job. That would be like judging a book based on its opening chapter or the color of its cover. But I was encouraged by the performance of Megan Brennan during her first week on the job as the 74th postmaster general of the United States—at least in comparison with her predecessor. Three things stand out.

First, she posted a letter to all postal employees on the USPS website that set a very positive tone—focusing on themes that will unite us: innovation, growth and working together to overcome the challenges we face.

Second, she immediately met with each of the presidents of the Postal Service’s four employee unions. Doing so shows respect for the craft employees who make the Postal Service what it is every day, an amazing public service and an invaluable part of the nation’s economic infrastructure. My first conversation with her was very constructive and useful; I look forward to many more like it.

And third, she shifted—in a subtle but significant way—the manner in which the Postal Service communicates with the media and the public about our financial performance, again accentuating the positive. I want to focus on this last step the most because I think it is essential for achieving the kind of postal reform legislation that will strengthen the Postal Service, not dismantle it.

A year ago in this space (the March 2014 issue of The Postal Record), I called the way the Postal Service was communicating its quarterly reports “financial malpractice.” That’s because its press releases routinely highlighted the negative and buried the good news. The opening lines of its press release for the first fiscal quarter of last year was typical: “The U.S. Postal Service ended the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year with a net loss of $354 million. This marks the 19th of the last 21 quarters that it has sustained a loss.”

Never mentioned in that release was the cost of the Postal Service’s grossly unfair mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits, which was responsible for the entire loss. Also not mentioned was the Postal Service’s operating profit (“controllable profit/loss”) of $754 million.

The press briefing that followed the release was even worse. The first slide featured a grossly misleading portrayal of the Postal Service’s balance sheet—highlighting an allegedly huge gap between the agency’s assets and liabilities. (See page 12 of this issue to read about a new report on the Postal Service’s assets and liabilities, by the USPS Office of Inspector General, that offers a more accurate picture of the Postal Service’s balance sheet.) The clear message was: the Postal Service was failing at best and a financial basket case at worst.

Why all the doom and gloom before now? The headline of the press release for that quarter provided the answer: “U.S. Postal Service Records Loss of $354 Million in First Quarter, Underscoring Need for Comprehensive Legislation.” The former PMG wrongly believed that the best way to get Congress to enact postal reform was to “yell fire in crowded theater.” This panic-creating approach never worked to convince lawmakers to enact the changes he wanted.

That’s why it is so refreshing to see the new PMG portray the first-quarter results for FY 2015 more accurately. She didn’t bury the impact of pre-funding, but she put it in proper prospective— it’s a problem that must be solved by Congress to help the Postal Service build on its strong recovery. Indeed, the title of the press release this year says it all: “U.S. Postal Service Delivers on ‘Our Season.’ ” The release highlighted a 4.3 percent increase in revenue, a 3.5 percent increase in Standard Mail volume and a 12.8 percent increase in package volume along with the overall net loss figure.

During the press briefing, the agency’s chief financial officer managed to acknowledge that the USPS had a “fantastic” quarter—a fair characterization of a $1.1 billion operating profit.

This shift in focus is crucially important. Congress, the mailing industry, postal employees and the public all need to know that the Postal Service is not a lost cause, that its future can be bright with the right kind of reform. We don’t need to dismantle the Postal Service; we need to invest in its future, which was another positive theme in the new PMG’s letter to postal employees. So all in all, it was a good opening week for the new boss.

Of course, we know that we will have disagreements with PMG Brennan in the future; it is the nature of a collective bargaining relationship. But as I told her, if she is willing to negotiate in good faith to reward career carriers and CCAs alike for our hard work, , NALC will reciprocate and seek to creatively solve problems at the bargaining table and on Capitol Hill.

If we can both do that, the glass will be more than half-full.

National Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO.

NALC joins postal banking coalition

NALC-LOGONALC President Fredric Rolando has announced that the union has joined a new coalition to explore ways the U.S. Postal Service could provide affordable financial services to the tens of millions of Americans who lack access to such services.

The coalition, the Campaign for Postal Banking, is made up of consumer advocates, community groups, worker representatives, faith-based groups and civil rights organizations.

“As we celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, we honor the memory of a great friend of the American labor movement,” Rolando said. “But it’s also an opportunity for us to reflect on the fact that millions of our customers—notably those in predominantly African-American and Latino communities—do not have access to affordable financial services.”

According to the latest Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) “National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked,” 28 percent of U.S. households—or nearly 100 million people—are underserved by currently available banking options. This percentage is even higher for African-American households (54 percent) and Latino households (46 percent).

“The Postal Service already provides several affordable financial services,” Rolando noted, such as money orders, Treasury check cashing and international electronic money transfers. “Not only do we as letter carriers touch every community in America, six days a week—and sometimes seven—but every community in America has at least one post office nearby, something that can’t be said about banks and other similar financial institutions.

“This coalition will help us explore opportunities to close this gap and help move millions of Americans away from payday lenders and other predatory alternative financial services,” the president said.

The Campaign for Postal Banking coalition has begun to investigate the legislative, legal and financial considerations involved in providing additional affordable financial services at post offices.

“Our nationwide post office network, combined with its highly skilled and dedicated workforce, could help solve this serious public policy problem,” Rolando said.

An overview of the problem and discussion about the potential for postal banking is included in a new report from a member of the coalition, United for A Fair Economy, titled State of the Dream 2015, Underbanked and Overcharged.

via NALC joins postal banking coalition | National Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO.