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Congress needs to preserve and strengthen USPS while fixing pre-funding

Statement from National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric V. Rolando, on today’s U.S. Postal Service report for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2014:

The figures released today by the Postal Service show an operating profit of slightly more than $1 billion for the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 2014, continuing the operating profitability that began in October 2012. The third quarter saw mail revenue increase by $424 million.

This performance is driven by two underlying trends. As the economy improves, letter mail revenue is growing. And as more people shop online, package revenue is skyrocketing. The Internet is now a net positive for USPS, auguring well for the future as e-commerce grows. In the third quarter, which the Postal Service’s CFO called “a very good quarter in a lot of ways,” package revenue rose 6.6 percent, standard mail revenue rose 5.1 percent and first-class mail revenue was up 3.2 percent.

The red ink at USPS is attributable to non-mail factors—chiefly the 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits, something no other public or private entity is required to do. That annual $5.6  billion annual charge accounts for most of the “losses.” The other factor this quarter was an adjustment in workers’ compensation interest rates, which the CFO called “a technical fair-value adjustment,” just on paper.

Given the positive mail trends, it would be irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses, which would drive away mail—and revenue—and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks. Lawmakers need to preserve and strengthen the profitable postal networks—which are the future of the USPS as it increasingly delivers not just six but seven days a week—while fixing the pre-funding fiasco.