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

The United States Postal Service is going to be facing some major challenges in the coming years. The growth of e-commerce and the diversion of materials traditionally delivered through the mail system will likely result in significant reductions in revenue. Unless the Postal Service is provided the tools and flexibility to adapt to this rapidly-changing marketplace, fundamental changes will be necessary. Such measures could include Post Office closings, layoffs, severe price increases or even the end of predictable mail delivery.

The mission of the Postal Service is to provide universal service at uniform rates. That means regular delivery to every address six days a week. In addition, the Postal Service is required by law to break even financially over time. This is done without cost to the taxpayer, as its revenue is generated by those who use the service. The burden is immense as a high percentage of Post Offices around the country lose money, and the cost of delivery to remote as well as some urban areas can be significant. Yet the Postal Service continues to carry out its mandate with efficiency and dependability as confirmed by national polls.

For more than five years, Postal Service Subcommittee Chairman John McHugh (R-NY) has worked on crafting a legislative solution for the challenges the Postal Service is sure to face. The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) has worked closely with him to ensure that his bill, "The Postal Reform Act of 1999" (HR 22), is in the interest of all letter carriers.    The bill, which has been modified significantly since it was reported out of the Postal Service Subcommittee, is currently before the Government Reform Committee for consideration.

For the NALC, any postal reform effort must begin with a commitment to preserving the universal service mandate.

It has become a hallmark of our postal system and the American public has come to rely heavily upon it. Chairman McHugh's bill recognizes this and seeks to provide the Postal Service with the tools it needs to continue its mission. At the same time, the chairman has also incorporated other key provisions, including:

  • Protecting collective bargaining as was originally proposed by Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY).
  • Ensuring a labor seat on the proposed Postal Board of Directors as introduced by Subcommittee
  • Ranking Member Chaka Fattah (D-PA).
  • Providing product and pricing flexibility.

There are a diverse array of constituencies affected by changes in the Postal Service. HR 22 is designed to present a balanced approach to Postal Reform so that the Postal Service will be able to meet the challenges of the 21" century marketplace, while still serving the mailing public's interests Some of the measures put forth in the bill, if they stood on their own, could be problematic. However, in the context of a complete package, they are workable. One example is the increased authority for the Postal Rate Commission. The NALC has consistently opposed efforts to provide greater powers to the commission, but is willing to compromise on the issue in the context of giving the Postal Service more flexibility to serve its customers in the new economy Others have put forth their own proposals for changing the Postal Service, but none represent the balanced or comprehensive approach that has evolved over time with HR 22. One of the pitfalls of engaging in reforming our postal system is that unintended consequences may arise. Chairman McHugh has done a good job of anticipating many of those potential consequences and has sought to address them.

The NALC will oppose any effort to reform the Postal Service that is not brought up and considered through the normal legislative process Some competitors have attempted to achieve their objectives through the appropriations process or through other committees. 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 the normal procedure.

Due to the uncertainty presented by making changes to the United States Postal Service, NALC members should encourage their Members of Congress to support a bill which anticipates and addresses the future needs of the Postal Service while protecting universal service at uniform rates. Please 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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