politics - postalnews blog

politics

Senator Says USPS Commits to Improve Mail Delivery & Standards in North Dakota

My Approved PortraitsWASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today received commitments from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to improve mail delivery and service throughout North Dakota. These commitments are in response to a meeting last week between Heitkamp and U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, after Heitkamp sent USPS more than 100 stories from North Dakotans about poor mail delivery and service they have experienced. To address issues specifically in North Dakota, USPS notified Heitkamp that:

  • Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) devices will be deployed in Bismarck, Dickinson, Fargo, Minot, Watford City, and Williston. These devices make it easier for USPS employees to assist customers using handheld devices to scan and accept prepaid packages, scan package pickups, and sell stamps to individuals in line. With mPOS, lobby assistants can greet and assist many customers with simple transactions, allowing them to “swipe and go.”
  • Self-Service Kiosks (SSK) will be installed in Dickinson, Watford City, and Williston to decrease wait times for customers
  • USPS will increase hours at 32 Post Offices in North Dakota

“I have long said that mail delivery needs to drastically improve throughout North Dakota. While we still have a long way to go, these commitments from the Postal Service are a step in the right direction,” said Heitkamp. “After hearing from well over one hundred North Dakotans all across the state about problems they have faced with their mail, I sent those stories straight to Postmaster General Donahoe because USPS needs to understand the magnitude of these problems. I’ll continue to press the Postal Service to make sure folks throughout North Dakota have the mail delivery standards they need and deserve.” Heitkamp previously called on North Dakotans to share their stories as part of her Fix My Mail grassroots effort if they encountered extensive delivery times or had to deal with other problems with their postal service. Heitkamp has continually presented the stories to the USPS Postmaster General and the GAO. More than 100 North Dakotans have already submitted stories to Heitkamp. Click here to submit stories. In February, Heitkamp helped advance comprehensive postal reform out of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee after the panel adopted key changes she made to the legislation that will improve mail service in rural communities throughout North Dakota.

Senator tells USPS to meet with community before choosing buyer for Bronx PO

Bronx, NY – As the United States Postal Service (USPS) moves ahead with the second phase of the sale of the historic Bronx post office, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged USPS to meet with the Bronx community and hear their concerns before deciding on a winning bid. With the review process underway of at least eleven submitted plans, Senator Gillibrand pressed the agency to choose proposals that would transform the City landmark into a space that would benefit the community and grow the local economy in the South Bronx.

“The sale of the historic Bronx post office, a neighborhood cornerstone, is an important decision that will deeply impact the future of the South Bronx,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The USPS must ensure that the voices of Bronx residents are heard. The community deserves a transformative space that will strengthen the borough and help grow the local economy.” Read the rest of this entry »

Postal unions form alliance to preserve America’s postal service

proclamation

March 11, 2014–Declaring that “the U.S. Postal Service is under unprecedented attack,” the four postal unions have formed an alliance to fight back to preserve America’s postal service for the benefit of the public.

“A congressionally manufactured financial crisis drains the USPS of vital resources,” the union presidents wrote in a proclamation (PDF). “Six-day delivery is under constant threat of elimination. The reduction of service standards and the elimination of half of the nation’s mail processing centers have slowed service and wiped out tens of thousands of good jobs. Post offices in cities and small towns are being sold or closed or having their hours cut back.

“Corporate privatizers seek to gain control over larger segments of postal operations–and to get their hands on the Postal Service’s $65 billion of annual revenue. The postmaster general’s policies of subcontracting and degrading service are fueling the privatization drive,” the proclamation declared.

“We stand with the people of our country in defense of their right to a universal postal service operated in the public interest.”

The goal of the alliance is to enlist public support in preserving the national treasure that is the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS is based in the Constitution, provides Americans with the world’s most affordable delivery network, and is operationally profitable without using a dime of taxpayer money.

The proclamation was signed by National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando, American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein, National Postal Mail Handlers Union John Hegarty and National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association President Jeanette Dwyer.

Read more: Postal unions form alliance; Declaration promises joint efforts.

Video: PMG’s State of the Business Message for Employees

A message to all employees of the United States Postal Service from Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe.

Sanders: There’s No Need to End Saturday Mail Delivery

Op-ed piece by Senator Bernie Sanders in the Wall Street Journal:US Postal Service Carrier

The U.S. Postal Service is one of our most popular and important government agencies. It provides universal service six days a week to every corner of America, no matter how small or remote. It supports millions of jobs in virtually every other sector of our economy. It provides decent-paying union jobs to some 500,000 Americans, and it is the largest employer of veterans.

Whether you are a low-income elderly woman living at the end of a dirt road in Vermont or a wealthy CEO living on Park Avenue, you get your mail six days a week. And you pay for this service at a cost far less than anywhere else in the industrialized world.

Yet the Postal Service is under constant and vicious attack. Why? The answer is simple. There are very powerful and wealthy special interests who want to privatize or dismember virtually every function that government now performs, whether it is Social Security, Medicare, public education or the Postal Service. They see an opportunity for Wall Street and corporate America to make billions in profits out of these services, and couldn’t care less how privatization or a degradation of services affects ordinary Americans.

For years, antigovernment forces have been telling us that there is a financial crisis at the Postal Service and that it is going broke. That is not true. The crisis is manufactured. Read the rest of this entry »

Alaska reps fight Issa move to repeal “bypass” mail subsidy

WASHINGTON, DC – The Alaska Delegation today vigorously defended Alaska’s bypass mail system against proposed changes that would leave Alaskans with higher costs and less reliable delivery during a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. U.S. Senator Mark Begich and Representative Don Young testified before the committee and Senator Lisa Murkowski submitted testimony as part of the delegation’s joint efforts to protect bypass mail. During the provocatively titled hearing, “Alaska Bypass Mail Delivery: A Broken System” the Alaska Delegation sent a strong message to the committee: It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it. Read the rest of this entry »

Rural carrier union president says Obama budget misses the mark on USPS reform

nrlcaALEXANDRIA, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–This morning, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which endorsed the Postmaster General’s proposed plan to eliminate six-day mail delivery. The following is a statement released by Jeanette Dwyer, President of the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association:

“The Administration’s budget released today simply misses the mark when it comes to solving the current fiscal crisis plaguing the U.S. Postal Service. For decades, the Postal Service has provided consistent quality service to each and every household nationwide. Despite the Postal Service posting a profit delivering mail and packages in 2013, elected officials continue with misguided and unacceptable attempts to slash and eliminate service.

“Our Postal Service is in need of true reform, not ill-advised, counter-productive attempts to slash service. By re-working the Postal Service’s funding of its retiree health benefits, an obligation which accounts for 80% of USPS losses over recent years and is forced on no other public or private entity, lawmakers could take the easiest and most-sensible step toward getting this venerable institution back on the right page. Allowing the Postal Service to continue to innovate with same-day parcel delivery and other services will provide a great opportunity to generate needed revenue and allow the USPS to remain a competitive player in the shipping and delivery industry. We need to grow our Postal Service not shrink it.

“While many say the Postal Service should be run like a business, it has been shackled by burdensome obligations and left to drown in red ink. Misguided legislation and a dysfunctional Congress have brought the Postal Service to this point, but these problems are easily solvable.

“Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for the protection of six-day mail delivery. The NRLCA and its members urge President Obama and his administration to support the U.S. Postal Service and abandon its insistence on slashing and eliminating service.”

Postal provisions included in Obama 2015 Budget proposal

From NAPUS:

Today, President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget and it includes a number of proposals that relate to the Postal Service.

  • Refund the Postal Service the projected Federal Employees Retirement System overpayment of $5 billion, over a 2-year period
  • Recalculate the USPS retiree health liability and restructure the payments, which the Administration projects will provide the agency with about $9 billion in relief through FY 2016
  • Provide USPS authority to reduce mail frequency to 5-days a week
  • Permit the USPS to shift to curbside and centralized delivery, and codify POSTPlan
  • Extend the 4.3% exigent postage rate increase permanently, rather than ending it in January 2016

In addition, the President’s budget would permit the Office of Personnel Management to:

  • Offer FEHBP coverage for domestic partners of Federal and postal employees and retirees, beginning in 2016
  • Contract with Preferred Provider health plans, as part of the FEHBP
  • Contract directly with pharmaceutical providers
  • Permit FEHBP premium adjustments based on participant’s tobacco use and/or enrollment in a wellness program

Finally, the President’s budget does not propose to implement the so-called chained-CPI

NAPUS.

APWU: What’s Different About Staples?

(Excerpt from the March-April 2014 edition of The American Postal Worker.)

Stop Staples’ Campaign
Gets Off to a Strong Start

The ‘Stop Staples’ campaign got off to a strong start in January and February, and preparations are underway to keep the pressure on. In mid-January, hundreds of locals and retiree chapters sent delegations to Staples stores across the country to deliver letters of protest to store managers. The visits were intended to put Staples management on notice that postal workers are serious about the campaign to win the jobs for postal employees. [read more]

Many APWU members have asked, “What makes the Staples program so important? How is it different from the other programs that outsource postal retail functions – the grocery stores that sell stamps and the Village Post Offices in hardware stores and gas stations in small towns?”

“The difference is the scale,” said Clerk Craft Director Clint Burleson. “We’re not happy about Village Post Offices or grocery stores selling stamps, either,” he said. “But Staples is a national chain with 1,600 stores. And the Staples postal units are performing many of the functions our retail clerks perform.

The USPS Five-Year Business Plan dated April 2013 reports that 40 percent of retail operations are provided through “alternative access,” including personal computers, stamps-only sales at grocery stores and other outlets, Burelson pointed out.

“Contract Postal Units account for less than 2 percent of retail revenue,” he noted. “But if the Staples plan takes hold, it would be another major step toward full-scale privatization of retail operations.”

And the Five-Year Business Plan states management’s goals for retail operations. Among them: “Increase alternate access retail revenue from 40 percent to 60 percent.”

 

USPS agrees to offer bonuses and pay raises to recruit rural carriers in North Dakota

nrlcaWASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Postal Service has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Rural Letter Carriers Association that will grant pay increases and bonuses to recruit and retain rural carriers in the Bakken region, including Minot, Dickinson, Williston, Watford City and most of the communities in western North Dakota, effective May 17, 2014. The increases are designed to attract and retain rural carriers.

In August 2013, Hoeven invited Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to visit Williston to hear from local business and community leaders and local postal employees about challenges to mail delivery in the region owing to economic and population growth. In November, the senator arranged a follow-up visit to the state with Drew Aliperto, United States Postal Service (USPS) vice president of area operations for the western area.

Hoeven wanted them both to see firsthand the tremendous commercial and demographic growth in western North Dakota and its impacts on postal service. As a result of these visits, the Postmaster General and regional vice president committed to addressing the difficulty local post offices were having in efforts to recruit new workers. Wage levels were not competitive with other area jobs owing to the region’s rapidly growing economy.

“This is great news for western North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “We’ve been working to improve postal service in western North Dakota and this agreement will help do that by recruiting and retaining more carriers in Williston and beyond.”

USPS and union officials outlined the basics of the agreement to Jon Cameron, Hoeven’s Western North Dakota Regional Director. The terms are described as follows:

1. All newly hired or converted career rural carriers will receive a 9 percent increase to their base pay.

2. All part-time/flexible rural carriers will receive a 9 percent increase to their base pay.

3. All Rural Carrier Associates (RCAs) will receive a 20 percent increase to their base pay.

The career rural carriers and the part-time/flexible carriers also receive fringe benefits in addition to their wages, as well as some of the rural carrier associates. The increases outlined in the agreement will result in starting hourly wages in the $21.00 to $22.00 range, plus fringe benefits as applicable.

All members of the three categories above will also receive a $500 hiring bonus 90 days after their hiring or conversion and another $500 bonus at the end of one year. Current rural carriers will receive a $500 retention bonus “as soon as practicable” and a second $500 bonus at the end of one year.

The agreement will allow for cities or towns to be added or removed as agreed upon without having to modify the agreement.