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The National Association of Letter Carriers
Legislative Fact Sheet on Postal Reform

HR 22

On April 29th, the "Postal Modernization Act of 1999" (HR 22), introduced by Congressman John McHugh (R-NY), was voted out of the Postal Service Subcommittee. Since that time there have been many developments that could have a significant impact on postal reform. Congressmen Steve LaTourette R-OH) and the committee's Ranking Member Henry Waxman D-CA) have drafted their own proposals.

As the last few years have demonstrated, attempts at reforming the postal system involve a diverse set of constituencies. Chairman McHugh's current postal reform legislation represents an ongoing evolution that attempts to strike a balance among the different institutions that would be effected. Through our continued efforts working with the chairman we have made significant progress. HR 22 no longer contains the "Mailbox Demonstration Project" which would have allowed access to mailboxes by people and companies other than a Postal Service letter carrier. This would have severely compromised the high level of trust that the public has come to rely upon from their letter carrier. HR 22 now includes a provision introduced by Rep. Gilman (R-NY) expressing the sense of the Congress that changes made in the bill not interfere with the collectively bargaining process. We are working with Chairman McHugh to give the Gilman language the full force of law. Also, Chairman McHugh's bill also provides for a labor seat on the proposed Postal Board of Directors. This was incorporated at the suggestion of Rep. Chaka Fattah D-PA).

At the core of HR 22 is the continued commitment to preserving the Postal Service's mandate of "universal service at uniform rates." Within that framework, the increased pricing flexibility and a less cumbersome and more predictable rate structure would serve to strengthen the USPS. The bill also recognizes the increasingly competitive nature of the delivery market and provides the Postal Service with the tools necessary to keep up with private sector competitors.

The NALC is supportive of Chairman McHugh's efforts and will continue to work closely with him as HR 22 continues to evolve. It is clear that changes will continue to be made to the bill and we intend to play a role in helping to shape those changes.

HR 2535

Congressman Henry Waxman has introduced HR 2535/the "Postal Service Enhancement Act." Congressman Waxman has been a long-time friend of the letter carriers and has sought to address many of the problems with the current system. Nevertheless, the NALC is concerned that the definition of "nonpostal product" and the expanded authority of the Postal Rate Commission included in HR 2535 will have unintended consequences. For example, since the Postal Rate Commissioners are presidential appointees, the commission could become a vehicle for market experimentation, potentially jeopardizing the Postal Service's universal service mandate.

The LaTourette Amendment

Congressman Steve LaTourette has indicated that he would propose changes to the bill when it comes before the Government Reform Committee. His language would also provide expanded powers to the Postal Rate Commission that could have unforeseen repercussions. In addition, it would risk undoing a fragile compromise that has been worked out over several years dealing with international mail issues. It still remains to be seen what other provisions would be included in Congressman LaTourette's proposal.

The NALC Position

It is still unclear what form postal reform will take. However, no matter what version comes up for consideration, it must fit into the framework of"universal service at uniform rates. This means that Postal employees must continue to provide normal delivery six days a week to all addresses at the same reasonable rate. The NALC will oppose any effort to change the bill that is not brought up and considered using the normal legislative process. Some competitors have recently attempted to achieve their objectives through the appropriations process or through other committees. If they had worked through the committees of proper jurisdiction with the necessary background on the subject matter, a faster resolution could have been reached and years of rancor and disagreement could have been avoided. HR 22 is a comprehensive bill, and it will be undermined if anyone who is unhappy with a particular provision seeks to change it by circumventing normal procedure.

When talking to Members of Congress, all letter carriers should encourage their representatives not to take any position on postal reform, or any amendments to these bills without contacting the NALC. Please feel free to contact the NALC legislative department at (202) 393-4695 with any questions or to share any responses you have received from Members of Congress.

For More Information Contact the NALC Legislative Department at (202) 393-4695


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