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May 01 2012

SIGNIFICANT PRAISE FOR SENATE PASSAGE OF POSTAL REFORM BILL

This is a "Critical Step" Toward Restoring the U.S. Postal Service to Soundness

WASHINGTON, D.C.—By an overwhelming and bipartisan vote of 62-37, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to reform the U.S. Postal Service. The bill, authored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I/D-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, along with Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Scott Brown (R-MA), is garnering praise from businesses around the country that depend on reliable mail service.

The National Newspaper Association hails the Senate’s vote as a “critical step toward restoring the U.S. Postal Service to soundness.” NNA President Reed Anfinson praised the leadership of Senators Lieberman and Collins saying their work “represents a new commitment by our nation’s leaders to maintaining universal service while undertaking much needed repairs on our nation’s postal system. The leadership of Collins and Lieberman in establishing continued viable service for mailers lays the groundwork for USPS to pursue meaningful restructuring.” http://www.scribd.com/SenatorCollins/d/91415868-National-Newspaper-Association

This legislation “provides the Postal Service important financial breathing room while it moves forward with needed right-sizing initiatives,” says the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers. http://www.scribd.com/SenatorCollins/d/91417730-Alliance-of-Nonprofit-Maile

“This bill is a vital first step in pulling the Postal Service back from the edge of a fiscal abyss,” said Art Sackler, coordinator of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service. “That is good news for the Postal Service and the 8 million private sector workers whose jobs rely on it.” http://www.scribd.com/SenatorCollins/d/91415530-Mailing-Industry-Praises-Senate-Passage-of-the-21st-Century-Postal-Service-Act

“The legislation, which tackles many of the issues that threaten the Postal Service’s survival, is of critical importance to the magazine industry, which mails seven billion copies each year to readers across the United States and relies on an affordable and dependable postal system,” said the Association of Magazine Media. http://www.scribd.com/SenatorCollins/d/91415629-MPA-Statement-on-Passage-of-S-1789

“This bill makes it more difficult to close small rural post offices and provides a one year moratorium on closings of small post offices in rural areas,” said Charles Moser, President of the National Association of Postmasters of the United States (NAPUS). http://www.scribd.com/SenatorCollins/d/91415942-NAPUS

Among the provisions, the Senate-passed legislation would:

  • Give the Postmaster General the tools to compassionately downsize the postal workforce to match the declining mail volume.

  • For the first time in 35 years, the bill would overhaul the federal workers’ compensation system across the entire federal government by reducing costs, cracking down on fraud, making the system fairer, and encouraging a return to work for employees who are able to work.

  • Place a one-year moratorium on closures of small, rural post offices unless there is no significant community opposition to closure, encourages the Postal Service to work with the community to explore options such as co-locating post offices within a retail store or sharing space with government agencies.

  • Encourage the Postal Service to operate more like a business: by cutting internal costs first instead of driving away customers with deep service cuts or steep price hikes. Specifically, the bill would prevent the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday service for at least two years and then only if the Government Accountability Office and Postal regulators certify that it is necessary to ensure solvency.

Background:

The Postal Service has lost more than $13 billion during the past two years, and by the end of this year, its statutory credit limit of $15 billion will be maxed out. Driving this crisis are many factors, including first-class mail volume has fallen by 26 percent since 2006 and continues to decline. Reflecting that sharp drop in volume, revenue has also plummeted from $72.8 billion in 2006 to $65.7 billion in 2011. The Postal Service is at risk of not being able to make payroll as early as this fall, according to the Postmaster General himself.

To remedy this crisis and put the USPS on solid financial footing, the Senate-passed legislation would give the Postal Service the tools to compassionately eliminate more than 100,000 positions -- or about 18 percent of the workforce -- over the next three years, saving an estimated $8 billion annually, through employee buy-outs and early retirement incentives. The incentives would be funded by the refund of overpayments made by the Postal Service into the Federal Employee Retirement System. These are not tax dollars; the payments were made from the Postal Service's revenues and postal employee contributions.

In addition, Senator Collins authored a key provision that would result in the continued operation of the Eastern Maine Processing Center in Hampden, Maine, by mandating certain overnight delivery standards in some areas. In Maine, reliable overnight delivery service would be impossible without both the Eastern Maine facility in Hampden and the Southern Maine plant in Scarborough. The Hampden plant could not be closed as long as these standards become law.

The Postmaster General originally proposed elimination of 223 of the 461 postal processing facilities around the country. The Senate-passed bill would spare 86 of those that were slated for closure because they would be needed to meet the overnight delivery standard, thus leaving 324 plants around the country, including the two in Maine.

The Postal Service is the linchpin of a $1.1 trillion mailing and mail-related industry that employs nearly 8.7 million Americans in fields as diverse as direct mail, printing, catalog companies, magazine and newspaper publishing, and paper manufacturing.

Nearly 38,000 Mainers work in jobs related to the mailing industry, including thousands at our pulp and paper mills like the one in Bucksport, Maine, which provides paper for Time magazine.

The House of Representatives must now pass postal reform legislation and then President must sign it.

FACTS ABOUT SENATE-PASSED POSTAL REFORM BILL

Fact: The Postal Service receives no federal appropriations for operations and only receives funds to provide ballots to the military and the blind. All Postal Service costs paid for by ratepayers (customers), not taxpayers. All Postal Service revenues are revenues from ratepayers, not taxpayers. The only way that taxpayers could be on the hook is if NO reform bill passes and the Postal Service becomes insolvent, which it is on track to do later this year.

Fact: Instead of the USPS plan to eliminate overnight delivery altogether and close the processing plants that sustain that service, the Senate-passed bill would preserve some overnight delivery so as to retain the customer base most dependent on overnight service.