National Association of Postal Supervisors

Legislative & Regulatory Update

 

Postal Reform Remains Deadlocked

NAPS Leg/Reg Update - June 22,2012

There are growing doubts whether House Republican leaders will bring the Issa-Ross postal reform bill (H.R. 2309) to the floor for a vote anytime soon.  NAPS and many other groups oppose the legislation, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL).  NAPS supports the Senate comprehensive postal measure (S. 1789) approved earlier this spring.

Despite the urgent need for the House to enact postal reform, House GOP leaders are listening to their follow Republican members, who are saying: Don't make us vote, in an election year, for a bill that will close many post offices and mail processing facilities in our own districts. The Issa-Ross bill would do just that, requiring the USPS to make $3 billion worth of cuts in post offices and mail processing facilities within the next two years.  Unfortuantely, the bill would do nothing to correct a primary cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis: the 2006 congressional mandate that requires the USPS to excessively pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees. 
 

Issa appears unwilling to rewrite his bill to make it more like the comprehensive postal legislation (S. 1789) passed by the Senate in April, which NAPS supports. 

Send your House Member a message that opposes HR 2309 and urges the House to adopt S. 1789.  Click here to send that message.

In other recent developments in Washington:

 *  Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a spending bill that includes a provision that’s at odds with postal reform legislation the Senate passed earlier this spring. The provision, inserted by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), would ensure that six-day delivery continues and would prohibit some post office closures in 2013.

 The Senate postal reform bill (S. 1789) allows for the possibility of switching to five-day delivery if the Postal Service cannot improve its finances through other cost-cutting measures within two years.  Durbin's provision agitated Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a sponsor of S. 1789.  Collins said the six-day language and post office closures provisions would put “comprehensive reform in jeopardy.”  (For more, click here.) 

*  The Postal Service is preparing to move ahead with Phase 1 of its plan to consolidate 48 mail processing facilities by the end of August, before the Postal Regulatory Commission issues its advisory opinion on the move.  APWU recently filed a complaint seeking to stop the Postal Service from consolidating the mail processing facilities and reducing service until after the PRC issues an advisory opinion on the plan. 

Phase 1 of the plan calls for the consolidation of 48 Processing and Distribution Centers by the end of August and for another 92 plants to be consolidated or closed in 2013. Phase 2 calls for an additional 89 plants to be consolidated by the end of 2014, for a total of 229.

*  How long it takes the PRC to issue its advisory opinions also came under attack this past week.  Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) in a letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission asked the PRC to work faster on proposals under review and awaiting advisory opoinons.  The chairman of the Senate postal oversight subcommittee is peeved that the PRC earlier took 12 months to issue its opinion on ending Saturday delivery, and the length of time it is taking the PRC to issue its opinion on service standards and mail processing consolidations.

Carper, a co-sponsor of S. 1789, said the PRC's advisory opinions "have been of great value to the Postal Service, Congress, and postal customers." But he expressed concern about the "lengthy, courtroom-style process" the commission has used in developing such reports.

*  Meanwhile, the August deadline looms for the Postal Service's payment of a $5.5B retiree health pre funding obligation, postponed from last year.  The 2006 postal law requires USPS to pay $5.5 billion annually to prefund is retiree health care benefits. Its fiscal 2011 payment deadline was extended from last September until August 2012, and its fiscal 2012 payment is due by Sept. 30. Postal officials say they do not have that money.  (For more, click here.)

*  The American Customer Satisfaction Index released its latest feedback on consumer shipping and mail services earlier this week.  And despite its financial problems, the Postal Service outscored FedEx and UPS.  Overall, customer satisfaction with consumer shipping services (including both sending and receiving packages) dropped 2.4% to an ACSI score of 82.  Both FedEx and UPS faced deteriorating customer satisfaction, with FedEx sliding 1% to 82 and UPS tumbling 5% to 81. For UPS, the decline wiped out last year’s gain and the company lost the lead it held for the first time in more than a decade. The aggregate of all other private sector shippers also fell, down 2% to tie UPS at 81.

Only the Postal Service showed any improvement, up 3% to an all-time high of 81 for its express delivery business. This marked the fourth straight year of customer satisfaction gains for the Postal Service, reflecting an increasingly smaller, yet loyal, customer base, as well as successful partnerships with both FedEx and UPS for much of the long-haul portion of USPS’s express shipping. Customer satisfaction with USPS’s regular mail delivery also improved, inching up 1% to 75, also an all-time high.


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