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APWU VP: “Last Mile Strategy” = “Contract Out Everything But Delivery”

Greg Bell
Executive Vice President

(The following article will appear in the March-April 2012 edition of The American Postal Worker.)

apwulogoIn January, a group of “postal industry thought leaders” published a paper that advocates contracting out all postal functions except delivery — a plan that is often referred to as “the last mile strategy.”

The paper, titled “Restructuring the U.S. Postal Service: The Case for a Hybrid Public-Private Partnership,” helps us understand what’s behind the current financial “crisis” at the Postal Service.

According to the model outlined in the proposal, “Today’s trusted letter carriers will deliver mail, packages, and products the ‘final mile’ to every address in the country while the private sector fulfills virtually all upstream mail processing, transportation and logistics functions.”

In coordination with the paper’s publication, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), a congressionally chartered non-profit organization, announced that it is conducting an “independent” review of the proposal.  Lest there be any confusion about its independence, the NAPA press release helpfully points out that the review is being funded by a contribution from Pitney Bowes.

The End Game

With the publication of this proposal, the end game of those who want to privatize the Postal Service has been laid bare for all to see. The USPS generates more than $65 billion a year in revenue.  Privatization would redirect that revenue to private industry.

Who would benefit?

Pitney Bowes, the company that is funding the review, stands to be a major beneficiary. The company is widely known as a provider of mailing equipment, but it is also a major mail “pre-sorter.” The company takes advantage of generous pre-sort discounts offered by the Postal Service to provide outsourced services to high-volume mailers. In 2011, Pitney Bowes operated 41 mail processing facilities and generated $5.3 billion in revenue. Pitney Bowes would certainly snatch up a major portion of USPS revenue if it were given the chance.

A look at the paper’s authors reveals who else stands to gain from postal privatization. Among the authors are:

John Nolan, who served as Deputy Postmaster General of the USPS from 2000-2005. He is currently a board member for Streamlite, a business-to-consumer package delivery service. (Nolan is not the first former top-level USPS manager to go into the for-profit mail business.  Former PMG Marvin Runyon left the Postal Service in 1992 and became a founding member of the Board of Directors of Stamps.com in 1996.)

Ed Gleiman, who was Chairman of the Postal Rate Commission from 1994-2001. After leaving the Postal Regulatory Commission, former chairman Ed Gleiman went on to become a lobbyist for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), a leading trade organization representing large mailers.

The other authors are George Gould, who served as Legislative and Political Director for the National Association of Letter Carriers from 1988 to 2006, and Ed Hudgins, who  is Director of Advocacy for the Atlas Society, a right-wing think tank.

Who Else Stands to Benefit?

FedEx and UPS also stand to benefit from any public-private model. FedEx is already the Postal Service’s number one private contractor, transporting Express Mail, Priority, and First Class Mail. In 2011 the company earned postal revenues of nearly $1.5 billion.

FedEx’s CEO, Frederick W. Smith, urged a congressional committee to consider postal privatization more than a decade ago. “Closing down the Postal Service,” he testified in 1999, “like any other government agency that has outlived its usefulness, is an option that ought to be considered seriously.”

Any postal study financed by those who stand to profit from privatization cannot be considered independent, neutral or credible.

The proposal doesn’t say what would happen to the Postal Service’s infrastructure of buildings and equipment, or to the 250,000 Clerks, Motor Vehicle Service employees, Maintenance Craft employees and Mail Handlers who currently process the nation’s mail.  But it is clear that the profit derived by the private sector would come at the expense of the unionized workforce.

A Convenient Crisis

As anyone who’s been following the USPS knows, the major cause of the Postal Service’s current financial crisis — which is cited as the justification for privatization — is the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). The 2006 law requires the Postal Service to pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years within a 10-year period.

Right-wing, anti-union politicians, with help from top postal executives, have been using the crisis caused by the PAEA to pursue “reforms” that would undermine the USPS — closing thousands of post offices, shutting hundreds of mail processing centers, and slashing service to the American people.  A bill introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) in the last session of Congress demanded $3 billion worth of cuts in postal retail and mail processing operations. It also would have created a “solvency authority” with the power to nullify postal employees’ collective bargaining agreements.

Privatization is the ultimate goal of those who are using the unsustainable mandates of the PAEA as an excuse to dismantle the USPS retail and mail processing network.

Public Bears the Costs

The public is already bearing the cost of the post office’s financial crisis.  As mail processing plants are consolidated and hours at retails outlets are reduced, service to the American people is deteriorating.

Privatization would make things worse — much worse. It would transfer the assets of our nation’s public postal service to private corporations. It would take the wealth that we, as a nation, control, and hand it over to Pitney Bowes, FedEx, UPS and others.

It would mean an end to “universal service at a uniform price.”  It would mean the death of inexpensive service to every neighborhood. It would mean more cutbacks in service and higher costs for postal customers.

This could be the disastrous outcome if Congress fails to fix the mess it made when it passed the PAEA.

USPS Taps Pitney Bowes Technology for Next Generation of Automated Services at Retail Outlets

pbSTAMFORD, Conn., December 13, 2012 – Pitney Bowes technology was selected by the U.S. Postal Service® (USPS) to begin providing support and maintenance of its network of postal meters. A 6-year contract valued at up to $32 million for meters and meter supplies will enable the Postal Service to nationally standardize its meter needs using a single leading edge design. The contract also includes the provision of systems and support to meet the U.S. Joint Military Postal Command’s needs nationally and internationally.

Pitney Bowes will provide 24/7 web support as well as a dedicated call center support for the Postal Service. An automated electronic ordering and invoicing system will be implemented to ensure effective deployment and reduce manual processes.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to provide the U.S. Postal Service with precisely the automated technology it requires to meet the needs of today’s retail customer as well as the men and women of the military,” said Pat Brand, President, North American Mailing, Pitney Bowes.

Pitney Bowes Appoints Lautenbach as CEO

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) today announced that the Pitney Bowes Board of Directors has appointed Marc B. Lautenbach as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Lautenbach joins Pitney Bowes with nearly 30 years of experience in the technology and business services industry, having served in senior leadership positions at IBM (NYSE: IBM).

Mr. Lautenbach succeeds Murray D. Martin, who is retiring as the company’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer and has resigned from the company’s board of directors. Mr. Martin will continue to work with Mr. Lautenbach on an effective transition. Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Maryland man arrested after threatening mass shooting at Pitney Bowes mail facility

The Baltimore Sun reports that a Maryland man, Neil Edwin Prescott, 28, threatened to “load my guns” and attack a Pitney Bowes mail facility where he formerly worked:

According to an application for the search warrant, Prescott called his former supervisor, Gary Crofoot, at mail services supplier Pitney Bowes in Capitol Heights on Monday and repeatedly said, “I am a joker. I’m going to load my guns.”

He also said he wanted to “see the supervisor’s brain splatter all over the sidewalk,” the search warrant application says. Police confirmed that there was animosity between the two men but said the threat was directed toward “everybody.”

Read more at the Baltimore Sun: Crofton, Maryland man called himself ‘Joker,’ planned mass shooting, police say – Baltimore Sun.

Unnecessary Postal Charges Are Costing SMEs Dear, Claims Pitney Bowes

HARLOW, UNITED KINGDOM–(Marketwire – July 5, 2012) - Pitney Bowes warns that SMEs who are persisting with stamps, may have missed out on significant savings already. It’s now been two months since the Royal Mail raised the price of first class stamps to 60p for a standard letter; franked mail is 27% cheaper at 44p per item.

SMEs that are sending as few as 10 first class letters per day could have already saved up to £72 on their postal costs by using a franking machine instead*.

Phil Hutchison, Pitney Bowes’ Marketing Director, advises “Over the course of a year, the additional costs of using stamps are well over £400, even for mail-light users. What is not calculated is the loss of staff time as well as other business benefits that users of franking machines enjoy.”

Pitney Bowes has published comprehensive advice about the rate change online at www.ratechange.co.uk as well as offering specific product options suitable for small and micro businesses.

For further advice on how to help your business make and maintain savings on postal communication, then please visit: www.pitneybowes.co.uk.

Australia Post Selects Pitney Bowes for Digital Mailbox Service

STAMFORD, Conn., April 04, 2012 – Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE:PBI) today announced that Australia Post has selected the Volly™ secure digital delivery system from Pitney Bowes Inc. to power the Australia Post Digital Mailbox service that is planned to roll out to households across Australia later this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Pitney Bowes to partner with Adobe on digital delivery service

STAMFORD, Conn. & DUSSELDORF, Germany, February 28, 2012 – Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) announced today that it has selected Adobe Systems Incorporated as a technology partner for the Volly™ secure digital delivery service. Adobe® Digital Marketing Suite technology will be a key component of the Volly™ system, both for the U.S. consumer launch by Pitney Bowes, and for partners who wish to customize Volly™ for their particular needs. The integrated enablement of the Volly™ secure digital delivery service will allow international posts and banks to readily create their own branded digital delivery solution. The integrated enablement will also allow for brand provisioning on the Volly™ digital delivery service, and consumers will be able to control how, when and where they receive their digital mail communications. Read the rest of this entry »

Pitney Bowes introduces Reliant Sorting Solution for lower volume mailers

STAMFORD, Conn., May 02, 2011 – Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) today announced it is introducing the Reliantâ„¢ Sorting Solution to provide lower-volume mail producers with a cost-efficient way to sort a variety of outgoing mail to obtain USPS® postage discounts and to speed the delivery of incoming mail. Ideal for enterprises and government agencies, the new solution features a small footprint, making it easy to add to existing mail operations. In addition, the Reliant Sorting Solution can help organizations manage private, high-integrity mail in one location for their transactional print and mail operations. Read the rest of this entry »

Pitney Bowes to Launch “Volly” Secure Digital Delivery Service that Connects Mailers and Consumers

Pitney Bowes press release:

NEW YORK, January 06, 2011 – Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) today announced the Vollyâ„¢ secure digital delivery service, a new cloud-based digital mail communications platform that will empower consumers to receive, view, organize, and manage bills, statements, direct marketing, catalogs, coupons and other content from multiple providers using a single application. This opt-in, consumer-focused consolidation service, which also includes online bill pay, will begin to be made available to consumers in the United States in the second half of 2011. Read the rest of this entry »