Posts Tagged ‘Postal Service’

Postal Reform 2

May 17th

What has become clear in the recent debate over financial crisis at the Postal Service is that there will be another round of debate over reform.  Round 1 began 1995 when Marvin Runyon confronted the new Republican Congress that had begun to talk about privatization almost from Election Day 1994.  There was also talk of new deals in which the revenue stream of the USPS would be tapped to pay for budget priorities.  A need for reform was clear.  But the debate lasted from 1995 through 2006 when the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) was finally passed and signed into law.

In 2011, as a new Republican Congress has begun to review the financial crisis that is pending for the Service, there will again be a new debate that seeks to reform the USPS.

But as the debate emerges, inevitably there will be a question about Round 1.  What was learned from experience with PAEA?  How well did it serve the needs of the USPS?

In 2007 after the first law was passed, I wrote a paper for an international conference sponsored by the Rutgers Center for Research in Regulated Industries.  My co authors were Larry Buc and Pierce Myers, an economist and a lawyer who were as knowledgeable as any professionals working in the postal and delivery industries.  We asked “how should the new law be evaluated?”  As the Postal Reform Debate 2 began to emerge Larry Buc and I wrote another paper for the Eastern Conference of CRRI.  (Click on “paper” to see our 2011 paper.)

We reexamined the criteria from the 2007 paper and concluded that the emerging debate was going to miss the underlying question – what kind of a law will be needed to make the USPS a viable institution in the 21st Century?

Innovation and the Regulator

February 18th

What will be important to the future viability of the Postal Service in America will be to create a regulatory process that is agile, flexible and fair.  The goal should be to create a system where postal employees who may be carrying mail to households will bring their best, most innovative ideas forward, where entrepreneurs know that they can say “I have an App for that” and find a partner in the government’s monopoly postal system.

On February 17th 2010 the Postal Regulatory Commission held a hearing to receive comments on the Postal Service’s Annual Compliance Plan.  I participated in the forum and introduced Comments.

In my comments I noted that the Commission had been clear that it wanted to be judicious in “calling balls and strikes” but in a time of economic crisis where the future viability of the Postal Service may be in question its important for the Commission not only to do its assigned job, but also to work with the Postal Service, the White House and the Congress to widen the strike zone.

The Sound of the Falls

September 2nd

In an ongoing tableau of changes taking place at the center of the U.S. economy, the following notices appeared in the trade press that covers the mailing and delivery industries, postcom.org:

  • Downsizing the workforce.  “In the wake of mounting financial losses, the U.S. Postal Service has offered 30,000 employees financial incentive to retire by the end of this fiscal year. The USPS has targeted two of its major unions, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) to accelerate reduction of employees. The majority of employees eligible for the incentive work in mail processing facilities.”
  • Reducing the facility footprint.  “The U.S. Postal Service has finally released its Facilities Plan that it submitted to Congress on June 19, 2008 in accordance with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) section 302. The 51-page document lays out what the Postal Service is looking to do in the near future to continue cost cutting and matching its resources to revenue.”
  • Anticipating the policy debate to come.  American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus talks with his members about the challenges and the future of the U.S. Postal Service.  “In his thought provoking piece, APWU President William Burrus summarized the challenge facing the Postal Service and its employees succinctly…as Congress rethinks the business model for the Postal Service, the union President asks…”Is the Postal Service’s business still a governmental function?”
  • Meanwhile the Postal Service and its customers discuss service cuts…”The U.S. Postal Service in conjunction with the Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) has issued an industry survey regarding 5-day delivery…

In the meantime, in the September Union Newsletter of the American Postal Workers Union contains the following call (unsigned):

“I believe that APWU members should join with other groups and unions that are confronting corporate power. There is a need for education and communication to understand our class interest, not only to enlighten and motivate current members, but to also broaden our base by bringing in new activists.

The Postal Service is suffering from a financial hardship created in part by modern technology. With the use of faxes, e-mail, the Internet, and teleconferencing, there has been a decrease in mail volume. But the Postal Service is also suffering from the failed economy and failed business models.

The result has been the excessing of postal employees at installations all over the country, with jobs continuously being lost or at risk of being eliminated. If the “no-layoff clause” ceases to exist in our next collective bargaining agreement, postal workers would be just as susceptible to losing their jobs in the future as other workers are today.

The time to become alarmed about our welfare as workers is not after a catastrophic event, but before it happens. Our concern, however, should be not just for our jobs and our potential loss of benefits, but for all working-class people in this country who are being denied the opportunity for a decent life.

The problems that we continue to face are numerous. Millions of Americans lack health insurance and have inadequate coverage for prescription medication; the child poverty rate is on the rise; there are serious deficiencies in our education system; and we have major environmental challenges.

America’s poor and its workers are losing the class war. The poor, minorities, immigrants, members of unions, progressives, and environmentalists must join in a national effort to challenge the corporate order and empower themselves so that they can control their own economic and political destinies.

Working-class men and women must unite. There has to be an unrelenting focus on breaking the iron grip that big corporations have on our country and our lives.

Wake up, postal workers! We have a class war on our hands whether we like it or not!”