Fortune features an article with the rather sensational headline “USPS Could Privatize As Early As 2020”. It’s a definite eye-catcher, but most people who have been dealing with the USPS for any length of time will probably react with more of an eye-roll.
Here’s the gist of Fortune’s reasoning leading to a 2020 privatization:
The United States Postal Service shipped more than 13 billion pieces of mail and packages this holiday season. But now that gift-giving has abated, the agency, which falls under President Trump’s jurisdiction, is facing another deadline: find a new Postmaster General by January 2020.
The new leadership will be handpicked and approved by the Postal Service’s Board of Governors: a group of five men (mostly with investment banking and private banking experience), three of whom were appointed by Trump, along with the current Postmaster General and her deputy.
Once the new leadership is in place, the board will also be tasked by the Trump administration with creating a package of large, structural changes intended to help the ailing Postal Service. Those changes will likely include privatizing and selling pieces of the public service off, according to the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which represents more than 200,000 current and retired postal employees.
And all of that is true.
But it glosses over some pretty significant facts:
The USPS doesn’t belong to the Postmaster General, the Board of Governors, or even Donald Trump. Trump can “task” all he wants- but he and his underlings can’t sell what they don’t own. The USPS was established by an Act of Congress. The new PMG and BOG may very well push for privatization- but they don’t have the legal authority to make it happen.
Bottom line- privatizing the USPS would require a new Act of Congress. That means that the same House of Representatives that just impeached Trump would have to approve the elimination of a couple hundred thousand union jobs with decent wages and benefits in every state and every House district in the country.
The closing panel session at the recent PostalVision 2020 event, held at The Ritz Carlton Pentagon City, featured renowned postal, regulatory and legislative leaders discussing what worked and did not work with the last comprehensive postal reform legislation enacted in 2006 and thoughts on what still needs changing to ensure the Postal Service’s success in the future.
The panel was moderated by PostalVision founder John Callan and included Sec. John McHugh, Hon. David Williams, Vice Chair, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors and Hon. Robert Taub, Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
In a message to employees, Postmaster General Megan Brennan says the USPS must pursue “Medicare integration” (i.e. forcing postal retirees to pay for Medicare Part B, in addition to their existing health insurance premiums, thereby shifting some health costs to retirees and taxpayers), and to “implement best-in-class practices used by successful business organizations”. In other words, eliminating or drastically reducing postal workers pensions and other benefits. Continue reading →
In April 2018, President Trump issued an executive order creating a task force to evaluate the operations and finances of the U.S. Postal Service and to make recommendations for policy changes to ensure a sustainable future for the agency. The White House Task Force, comprised of the Secretary of Treasury and the Directors of the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management, reported its findings to the President on August 10 after just 120 days — and then issued a public report in December 2018. Continue reading →
UPS could improve its delivery services if the United States Postal Service began selling rights to access mailboxes as recommended by the Trump administration, Chairman and CEO David Abney told CNBC on Wednesday. Continue reading →