Senators press for "improvements" to postal bill

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The Senate has yet to begin a formal debate over a proposed postal overhaul, but the jawboning is already well under way.

The latest development: 27 senators led by Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote the bill’s sponsors today urging them to consider some “significant improvements.”  Such as  protection for rural post offices; barring the U.S. Postal Service from a change in delivery service standards that could lead to the closing of up to 252 mail processing plants; and requiring the continuation of six-day-a-week mail delivery for at least another four years. They also call for creation of a blue-ribbon commission that would have six months to devise a new business model for the Postal Service “to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.”

Apart from Sanders, the signers are all Democrats. Still to be seen is whether the bill’s sponsors, including Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and the committee’s top Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, will consider any of their ideas. But the letter offers telling evidence for why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has yet to bring the bill up for debate weeks after it was placed on the Senate calendar.

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  1. And that is why this is a dysfuntional Government, they all know the problem, they all know the solution, but there is no way they can agree with the “other” party. Stop with the games, let the Business savy Politicians handle this, get the Post Office back to fiscal responsibility. They lost 3.3 billion in the first quarter, how long can you hold them up?

  2. In the past few years the postal service has lost close to 10% of it’s core product. (the 1st class letter) If this is the case then the current manpower and infastructure needs to be reduced to match, or the excess cost still remains as a constant drain on resources and funds. Unfortunately this means closing underutilized facilities, and merging mail processing operations. If 6 day delivery is to continue, the only choice is to significantly increase the cost of mailings to cover the exisiting cost of delivery. The alternatives to traditional USPS retail outlets are resonable. Why keep a Post Office in an area that doesn’t generate enough revenues to cover it’s cost, when a plausable alternative to selling those same services through a local store front (the village post office concept) serves the same purpose at 1/3 the cost? Congress and the public need to get out of the way and let this great institution do what it needs to do to makes it’s self viable and sustainable. Reason such as we always had a Post office here, or: Our post office is a local gathering point for the town folk, Or: I like getting mail on Saturday, it’s always been that way. The Post Office is a multibillion dollar operation, it is there to provide the needs to connect America commerce and communications…not provide a convienient gathering spot! In this time of electronic communications and high tech alternatives, lets get out of the way and let them “right size” there company to meet their current needs. It’s only fair to those who depend on this great institution to earn ther daily living, to support their families, and positivly contribute to the american economy.

  3. Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) Mark Begich (D-Alaska) Mike Bennet (D-Colo.) Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) Ben Cardin (D-Md.) Robert Casey Jr., (D-Pa.) Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) Al Franken (D-Minn.) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) Tim Johnson (D-N.D.) Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) Mary Landrieu (D-La.) Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) John Tester (D-Mont.) Mark Udall (D-Colo.) Tom Udall (N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

  4. All of these Senators are strong supports of the unions, and I commend them for that, however; like I said there is no way to preserve all the jobs, because they are not needed anymore. The work simply is not there. And with average salaries in the 50+ thousand dollars range, the postal service simply can not afford to keep bodies it dosen’t really need. The total savings from consolidations, and reducing delivery to 5 days, ranges in to the billions, far exceeding what you can expect to make in new revenues in a drepessed economy. It’s a tough pill to swallow but it’s the needed solution to save the entire service itself. Which is the big picture. We want the Postal Service as a whole to survive. Out of the hundreds of thousands of it’s employees, many would not being earning an upper middle class income with out it. This is not a put down of postal workers, it’s a testament to what an important, and great institution the Postal Service is, and what it means to hte USA. So lets stop playing media sound bite politics, and lets do the right thing for everybody, but allowing the business to do what’s needed and practical, for it’s survival.

  5. I feel the reason these small post offices can’t be maintained is they are generally staffed by mangers who wanted an easy way to retirement. They were never designed to be 55 to 65,000 dollar a year jobs. They were meant for someone living in the community who won’t get per diem and mileage for traveling there. Cut the salaries back to where they should be and make them do the work. That’s the way it was before the cronies got involved and inflated salaries and worked the system to give out perks and further inflate their salaries for their ” work acquaintances”. Then the union got involved and wants a clerk there to do the work. Now you have 100,000 + dollar liability that should not be there. No wonder they can’t afford to keep it open. The post office doesn’t want to shut down cash cows for their buddies, it’s just a distraction from gross mismangement of postal revenues. Show me the salary data from these middle managers coasting to retirement so we do an accurate analysis of small post offices.

  6. Hey, I’ve got an even better idea…reconsider the pre-funding of 75 years. No business would survive such an enormous sum (5.5 billion) going out each fiscal year. Without it we are in the black over the last 6 years! Oh, and refund the 13 billion overpaid to FERS and use a portion of that to offer real incentives to employees. And what about the 50-75 billion in overpayments since 1970? Lets face it… we have been a cash cow for the federal government for far too long.

  7. The GOP should focus on giving USPS craft workers the early out incentives, and other monies to upright the USPS, because this USPS is intertwined with over a trillion dollars of commerce, when the USPS comes down, so does this American economy, arrogance or ignorance?, how can Congress okay Trillions to bailout banks and for worthless wars, that cost the taxpayers and take the lives of our Soldiers, yet want to cut those who teeter on the verge of bankruptcy and live pay check to pay check ? There is a very simple answer, Congress as well as many State and local Governments are disconnected and/or trying to keep their padded pay checks at the cost of depriving the working class of a decent existence, the so called American Dream, has turned into a nightmare for most. The reason the Post Office is mentioned is because it is a disaster happening now, from overpaid Management who have squandered billions on failed Postal experiments to Unions that have gone from “do what is good for the members unions”, to advancing their own political agendas. The majority of Federal/ Postal workers , excluding the Fat Cats in Congress and Federal/ Postal management, may average $40- $55,000 dollars, after reaching the top rate, and that depends upon the Agency and/or the pay Grades. Congress truly no longer represents those who they serve, and the Unions and Management in the Postal/ Federal Government agencies are no better. When the above mentioned wake up and see the disasters looming will they change their ways ?, or are they so blind and/ or arrogant ,that we should prepare for the worst ?, time will tell very soon.

  8. Call Your Senators:
    202-224-3121
    (Capitol Switchboard)
    [Click here for direct #s]
    Tell them you Support 
    S. 1789
    The U.S. Senate soon will likely debate the 21st Century Postal Reform Act (S. 1789), bill designed to ‘save” the U.S. Postal Service by offering Early Retirement Incentives.
    As president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, I understand the budgetary and market challenges facing the USPS. However, these issues don’t result from an outdated organization. Despite the economic problems our country has confronted for the last several years, the Postal Service has done quite well. In fiscal years 2007-10, it had an operational profit of $611 million delivering the mail, and customer satisfaction and on-time delivery are at record highs.
    S. 1789 should not be dramatically restructured, it will save America’s postal network. Rather, it will assure the survival of a venerable institution based on the Constitution, and not upset the livelihoods of the people, communities and businesses throughout Missouri and the United States that depend on a strong, reliable service. Instead of enacting shortsighted, destructive policies, Congress should approve this bill ,S.1789.
    Fredric V. Rolando is the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers

  9. I recently retired after 31+ years as a Letter Carrier. Going to 5 day delivery is a No-Brainer. Every business faced with a declining revenue must make changes. If the Post Office would go to 5 day delivery and have employees work 4 10 hour days a week they not only keep the jobs but they reduce the overtime payouts. A skeleton staff would be around on Saturdays to make available window pickup of Hold Mail, Parcels and other over the counter needs. These Democratic Senators don’t want to lose their funds given by the Postal Unions. It is not about doing what is best for the Post Office and America it is about lining the Senators pockets. Reducing many unnecessary management positions would also be possible if they did away with meaningless and profitless management positions. Allowing the Postal service to provide other services such as selling Cell phones, equiping Postal vehicles to read the water and gas meters that many are now read just with driving up and down the street. Allow advertisements on the sides of Postal vehicles would be a big boost. Getting the federal govt out of the Postal business would be the first and best option.

  10. It stands to reason that the individuals attempting to stall and or torpedo efficiencies aimed at USPS reform should be Democrats.

    Ideas that save money and make sense always seem to elude this group. Fact is, first class mail has had a significant dropped significantly due to bill paying on-line. Most people get their statements and pay the bill on-line. For five utilities, I do not receive a statement nor use the post office.

    UPS and Federal Express have also cornered the market on package delivery due to better service and price.

    These 27 Democratic Senators know that the USPS has gone the way of the dinosaur and persist in prolonging the inevitable. There are four quarter in a year. How long do they propose to bleed the taxpayer to face the inevitable.

    USPS is and has been on life support. Any responsible private business owner would be out of business by now. These Senators must realize the business model has changes sine the Pony Express.

  11. Better check your math again if you think the average postal worker’s salary is in the $50K range. Maybe the most senior ones, but on an average, no. Close any office that doesn’t cover it’s cost? That would be over 80% of the offices. Twenty percent of the offices take in 80% of the revenue. The PMG has already stated that the village PO does not do everything that a regular retail office does. The main culprit as far as classes of mail goes is the bulk mailers. They are given such huge discounts that it doesn’t come close to covering the total cost of processing and delivery. Adjust those costs to break-even and the bottom line will improve vastly. Maybe you and I don’t depend on Saturday delivery, but a lot of people in remote areas do. And contrary to what most people think, a tremendous number of people either don’t have internet or access to it (according to BLS somewhere around 35 million). Eliminating Saturday delivery will only begin the death spiral. Why eliminate 17% of your business to save 5% of your costs? The main problem is the idiotic requirement to pre-fund future retiree’s health benefits 75 years into to future, for people who haven’t even been born yet. And oh yeah, eliminate Saturday delivery? Tell your story why it’s necessary to the 50,000-75,000 workers who will be instantly unemployed.

  12. Actually Mike that the average is 48,000, not including sick and annual leave, health care, and matching TSP contributions. That total using USPS numbers would be over $80,000 on average.

    I fully understand the cost of letting go over 100,000 workers as the PMG proposes. Just multiply those stated salary averages and it’s well over 4 billion dollars that would be suck out of a fragile american economy annually!!!

    However there are presently in the neighborhood of 550,000 postal workers. With shrinking demand for there services, that leaves a lot of overhead if you try to keep everyone of these people around as the workload declines. It’s simply not sustainable. So it’s better to insure the business survives by “right sizeing” to the workload, than to continue to run up massive debt. This is clearly the goal of the PMG. An your also right that most office in a sense subsidize the smaller facilities, however that’s even more reason to manage your cost, by triming as much as possible, where ever possible. If not, your 80% unprofitable offices becomes 100%, and everybody loses. Congress will never bailout the Post Office. So you need to take matters in your own hands and do the prudent thing.

    There is a ton of money to be made in the mailing industry. If USPS continues to flounder, profiteers will call for privatization. And with that, everyone loses, but wall street and similar robber barons.They will skim off the profitable parts nd set the rest up to fail. (ala Mit Romney’s Bane capitol) They will price a stamp for profit ( no less than $1.00 for a 1st class letter) but only service areas where they can make a quick buck, the rest will they will leave(rural america and small town USA) to a government compelled to continue to supply delivery and service at a loss, but at the expense of the tax payers. And the 50,000 to 75,000 workers you were worried about losing their jobs, now become 400,000 to 500,000 jobs lost.

    So it’s a cruel choice to make, but I don’t see any other option for USPS other than pick your poison. That would to right size at the expense of maybe 100,000 people, or bankrupcy at the cost of 550,000 jobs, and the complete abolishment of the Postal Service.

  13. Just a side note to Andre…

    USPS does not run on tax dollars. It is self supporting. The only tax dollars involved is money that the post office borrows. (a mandate built in to the original charter, so that it maintains a positive cash flow to handle it’s daily expenses and payroll. because the post office’s original charter designated it as a not for profit gov entity,which would cause it’s hugh biweekly payroll to drain available funds need to support daily operations)That borrowing limit is capped at 15 billion ( that number sounds large but it’s relative to the size of the business and it’s monthly expenses) The current amount owed is around 13 billion, but USPS regularly makes schedule payments.

    Anyway…it’s not the Post Office that is at fault for the current losses. Even in this depressed economy, it’s actually one of the more efficently run of all goverment agencies. OPM ,and the Office of Inspector General audit USPS regularly and have consistently found little mismanagement. The reason for the massive losses, is mainly the required prefunding of retirement at 5.5 billion and also in my opinion, the interference from congress and the public, in fighting the business from closing offices that it can do without, and consolidating services as it see fit to comply with it’s essential needs. It’s very similar to military bases. When the DOD deterimines a base is no longer needed, congress and the public, protest in order to save jobs and the local economy. It’s always a tough pill to swallow, but at some point the decision has to be made. It’s keep the enitity in dispute open and subsidize the cost, or close it and move on.

  14. a reply to R page; you have soe good ideas but only for the USPS. if we were to start reading meters and selling other things like cell phones we would taking a way other peoples jobs and in this economy it is a bad ida.

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