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NALC Participates in Capitol Hill Briefing Opposing Postal Privatization


Provided by APWUToday, NALC Executive Vice President Brian Renfroe participated in a briefing panel on Capitol Hill hosted by A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. The briefing came in response to the recent report issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) titled “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century,” which calls for privatization of the Postal Service, and in anticipation of the White House Postal Task Force report due on August 10.

He was joined by Alan Barber, Director of Domestic Policy for the Center for Economic and Policy Research; Art Sackler, Manager of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (21C); Ashley Poling, Senior Policy Counsel on the U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Subcommittee for Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND); and the moderator of the panel, Sarita Gupta, Executive Director at Jobs with Justice, and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations.

In his presentation, Renfroe focused on the Postal Service’s finances, stating that they are indeed on an unsustainable path, but emphasized that restructuring or privatizing USPS is not the answer. He highlighted the history of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 and reminded those in attendance that the burdensome prefunding mandate accounts for nearly 90 percent of losses reported by USPS since 2007. He outlined the solutions provided by the four postal unions to the White House Postal Task Force during NALC’s June 5, 2018 meeting with its members (viewable here).

Renfroe also referenced the recent report from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) titled “Delivery Government Solutions in the 21st Century," that calls for privatization, but noted that during NALC’s meeting with the Task Force, there were no mentions of privatization as a solution from any of the Task Force members.

“It’s important to consider international cases where postal privatization has been implemented already and recognize that they have not been successful,” said Renfroe. “Examples in developed countries in Europe have shown postal infrastructures destroyed, prices rising, services falling, and employment conditions deteriorating. The U.S. Postal Service is not in need of restructuring and certainly not in need of privatization. I encourage everyone here to speak with their boss, their Members of Congress, and ask them to cosponsor House Resolution 993 – and oppose postal privatization.”

Art Sackler followed, providing a business perspective to the issue. As a representative of organizations that provide up to 90 percent of postal revenue and rely highly on the dependability of the Postal Service and its infrastructure, he echoed Renfroe’s call to sign on to H. Res. 993. A privatized Postal Service would be highly detrimental to his organizations and to the American public. He argued in favor of passing the postal reform bills currently in the House and Senate (H.R. 6076 and S. 2629), and to stabilize in the short term through Medicare integration and a one-time rate increase. He argued that structural changes may be needed, but that postal privatization would not simply be bad for the reasons previously listed, but also for the universal service obligation (USO) and especially to rural communities where it would be unprofitable to provide service.

Following him was Alan Barber, who noted that postal privatization as a policy option has been floating around since the 1980’s, but appears to be growing more recently. He was quick to point out that recent experiences show privatization does not work, and that the examples in Europe are warning signs for the United States. Echoing Renfroe, he cited European price increases, service decreases, and staff reductions among many reasons to oppose such a policy. Profit maximization was a catalyst for decreased use of their postal services, leading to further cuts and degraded service. Instead of privatization, Mr. Barber argued for other solutions, including expanding postal services to include postal banking or other options. Finally, he agreed with the previous speakers that Members of Congress should sign on to H. Res. 993.

Lastly was Ashley Poling who led with the important message that the U.S. Postal Service impacts every American nearly every day. This point is especially true for rural Americans who rely on a stable, affordable Postal Service. She noted her boss, Sen. Heitkamp, cares deeply about postal issues and has continuously fought on its behalf. She, along with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, met with the White House Postal Task Force together to discuss bipartisan solutions to postal issues. Ms. Poling ended by saying Sen. Heitkamp is committed to solving this problem, and she too urges Members of Congress to sign on to H. Res. 993.

The briefing concluded with the panel answering questions from Hill staffers and other in attendance on a variety of postal issues.