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Talking Points: A guide for branch leaders on the postal financial crisis; the truth about the Postal Service and the need for congressional action. PDF

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Previously in 'POSTAL FACTS'
Postal Service red ink results from congressional interference. Much of the news media coverage of USPS’ report for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2014 focused on statements about losses, but also noted gains in postal revenue and the improving mail picture. NALC President Fredric Rolando seemed to be the most-quoted person in the news coverage. In the Aug. 9 Portland Press Herald, Rolando informed readers why the red ink at USPS has nothing to do with mail service. Ahead of the Postal Service’s release of its financial report, The Washington Post looked at how USPS has been doing so far, referring to the “continued turnaround” of the agency, noting how its “recent improvement” is due largely to increases in package delivery, and calling pre-funding “one of the biggest drags on USPS finances.” Los Angeles Branch 24 President Larry Brown was interviewed by Philadelphia radio station WURD-AM during NALC’s convention in July. Sioux City, IA Branch 69 President Eddie Lofland’s letter to the editor of Sioux Falls, SD’s Argus Leader ran on Aug. 15. An editorial in Raleigh, NC’s News & Observer railed against pre-funding, calling it the “real threat to USPS.”

For FedEx and UPS, a cheaper route: the Post Office. A story in the Aug. 5 Wall Street Journal noted that “USPS has generated about $1 billion in operating profit so far this year.” On Sunday, July 20, a positive story in The Philadelphia Inquirer about NALC and the convention led the paper’s Business section. The story quoted Region 12 NBA Bill Lucini, Camden Merged, NJ Branch 540 President Chuck Goushian and NALC Chief of Staff Jim Sauber. A July 22 story by a reporter from the Philadelphia group of CBS-affiliated radio stations featured Portland, OR Branch 82’s Kevin Card, who is on assignment to NALC Headquarters as a special assistant to the president for workers’ compensation. Sioux City, IA Branch 69 President Eddie Lofland’s letter to the editor of the Sioux City Journal ran on Aug. 6. On July 14, Federal Soup quoted NALC in an article about USPS’s announced closure of 82 mail procession plants. Connecticut AFL-CIO’s Lori Pelletier wrote a letter to the editor of The Middletown Press explaining the impact pre-funding has had on USPS’ finances. Iowa Federation of Labor’s Ken Sagar’s letter to the editor of The Des Moines Register asked readers to support the boycott of Staples. An article on AlterNet described the affect the boycott of Staples could have against a push to privatize USPS.

The most insane law by Congress, ever? Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey wrote a lengthy piece describing how pre-funding is the real reason behind the Postal Service’s financial situation. An editorial in Portland, OR’s Oregonian says that the Postal Service’s partnership with Amazon is good business. An editorial in Waynesboro, VA’s News Virginian says that the Postal Service can’t cut its way to solvency. An op-ed by South Dakota Newspaper Association General Manager David Bordewyk in the Rapid City Journal also calls on Congress and the Postal Service to work to fix pre-funding. An op-ed in Federal Times by National Association of Postal Supervisors Executive Vice President Jay Killackey blames pre-funding for the reason behind “the postal blues.” An article in Government Executive reported on how Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) campaign to end Saturday mail delivery met with another failure. In an article for The Pennsylvania Gazette, blogger and postal fan Evan Kalish wrote about the importance of post offices and the Postal Service.
Click here for archived POSTAL FACTS items
    Updated September 5, 2014    
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True cause of Postal Service challenges

Sept. 3, 2014NALC President Fredric Rolando had a strong letter in the Sept. 3 Orange Country Register, responding to an Aug. 28 editorial in the paper that blamed workers’ compensation and workers’ salaries for the Postal Service’s reported red ink—basically taking (local) Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) stance. Rolando gave the paper—and the congressman—a basic lesson in postal finances.

True cause of Postal Service challenges

Fredric Rolando, president, National Association of Letter Carriers: Your editorial [“Labor costs weighing down Postal Service,” Opinion, Aug. 28] misconstrued U.S. Postal Service finances and the cause of its red ink. You focused on workers’ compensation payments, devoting a paragraph to one worker who claimed she couldn’t lift heavy weights, before finding other ways to blame employees.

Here are the facts. The Postal Service’s financial report for fiscal 2014’s third-quarter showed earnings increasing in each mail category: packages up 6.6 percent, standard mail up 5.2 percent and first-class mail up 3.2 percent. Overall, revenue rose by $424 million.

Why the positive trend? As the economy gradually improves, letter revenue has followed suit. Meanwhile, rising online shopping has boosted package deliveries, making the Internet a net positive (and belying your claim that digital communications are hurting the Postal Service).

USPS, which gets no taxpayer money, has a $1 billion operating profit so far this year and has been operationally profitable since October 2012 – earning more revenue selling stamps than it spends delivering the mail.

Why, then, the red ink? Simply put: congressional interference. In 2006, Congress mandated that the Postal Service prefund future retiree health benefits. No other public or private entity is required to prefund for even one year; USPS must pre-fund the next 75 years ahead and pay for it all over 10 years. That’s the red ink.

Rather than break what works, Congress should fix what it broke by addressing the prefunding fiasco.

Click here to read the letter (subscription required).

South Florida Branch 1071’s Matty Rose, a retired NALC national officer, was interviewed by ABC News’ “Good Morning America” program about tests of drones for package delivery.

Click here to read the story.

NALC Chief of Staff Jim Sauber was interviewed by The Dallas Morning News about the effect technology is having on a number of industries.

Click here to read the story.

Racine, WI Branch 436 Assistant Vice President Jody Spencer recent naming as Racine’s “Labor Person of the Year” was covered by The Journal-Times.

Click here to read the story.

© National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO