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NALC opposes H.R. 3801— yet another attack on the Postal Service

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives (HOGR), has introduced new legislation to eliminate Saturday letter mail delivery right away and Saturday package delivery within five years.

The new bill, H.R. 3801, offers these cuts as a means to pay for the repeal of a small reduction in military pension cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that was included in the Ryan-Murray budget deal enacted in December.

H.R. 3801 would require even greater delivery service cuts than does H.R. 2748, the disastrous postal bill passed by the HOGR committee last year. The new bill would target the Postal Service’s booming package delivery business as well as letter mail delivery.

Two national publications aptly summed up the situation, with The Nation calling Issa’s bill “cynical” and the more conservative Bloomberg BusinessWeek referring to it as “mischievous.”

Issa’s bill would immediately end Saturday letter mail delivery to the nation’s 151 million addresses, including businesses and residents. It would also phase out Saturday package delivery in a very strange way: Any new delivery points added to the Postal Service’s network since Sept. 30, 2012, would lose package delivery immediately. That means well over a million households and businesses would lose a service they now receive.

And all new delivery points, which typically rise by nearly a million per year in the United States, would be denied Saturday package delivery as well. Then, in 2019, all U.S. homes and businesses would lose Saturday package delivery.

Bizarrely, at a time when the Postal Service has successfully expanded package delivery on Sundays for and when the booming 24/7 world of Internet shopping is fueling a Postal Service recovery, H.R. 3801 would undermine the Postal Service’s fastest growing line of business.

“This is a non-starter in terms of both merit and political support,” National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando said. “It would hurt the Postal Service, businesses and the public, and it has virtually no support in Congress.

“The USPS is making a comeback as the economy gradually improves, with a return to operational profitability in 2013 ($600 million in the black) and a strong 2013 holiday mailing and shipping season,” Rolando said. “By degrading the Postal Service’s last-mile delivery network and slowing mail service, Issa’s bill would stop that comeback in its tracks.

“The bill also would be costly to millions of small businesses that are open weekends and need to send and receive checks, while inconveniencing people throughout the country,” the president said. “And it would damage the $1.3 trillion national mailing industry that employs 7.5 million private-sector workers.

“We agree that the budget shouldn’t be balanced on the back of military veterans,” Rolando said. “But Issa’s bill is not the right way to remedy that. One-quarter of all letter carriers are veterans, and the Postal Service is this country’s second largest employer of veterans. Eliminating 80,000 good jobs that offer opportunities for veterans is a poor choice for offsetting a budgetary hit on military pensions.

“Congress should reject this transparent attempt to use public support for veterans to shrink and degrade the U.S. Postal Service, an institution that is based in the Constitution and that provides Americans with the world’s most affordable delivery service,” the president said.

“Rather than stop the Postal Service’s comeback by reducing service, lawmakers should revisit their mandate that USPS, alone among all public or private entities in the country, pre-fund future retiree health benefits,” Rolando said. “This unfair mandate accounted for 100 percent of USPS red ink in 2013.”