Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee
Today, February 13, 2013 the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the USPS and needed reform. The committee is chaired by Tom Carper (D-DE) and the ranking minority member is Tom Coburn (R-OK). Members include Senator Rob Portman (R) of Ohio. If Senator Portman attended the hearing, I did not see him speak or ask any questions of the witnesses.
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) testified he supports 5-day delivery. He believes the postal workforce must be reduced and benefits slashed. Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) supports the Postal Service and it's empolyees and favors saving universal service at uniform rates.
Postmaster General Donahoe believes 5-day delivery can be enacted without the permission of Congress. Postal Service lawyers have issued opinions to that fact. The PMG did say that if postal reform is enacted keeping six-day delivery, he would obey the law and not go to 5-day delivery.
The Goverment Accountability Office Comptroller Dodaro said his agency supports three key issues: (1) modifying the pre-funding requirement in the Postal Accountablity and Enhancement Act (2) Inserting the financial condition of the USPS into collective bargaining (3) providing flexibility in the areas of pricing, new revenue and delivery standards. He also said that dropping Saturday delivery will not answer all the financial problems.
APWU President Cliff Guffey testified that one in five people in this country still do not have access to email or the internet and rely on the USPS as their main contact with the world. The APWU supports ending the pre-funding requirements of the PAEA and providing the USPS with new revenue streams.
Rural Letter Carrier President Jeantte Dwyer believes that the PMG needs the permission of Congress before going to 5-day delivery. Any savings 5-day would provide would be offset by a drop in mail volume. She feels the Postmaster General is just "dead wrong".
The president of a printing business, Joel Quadracci, testified about postal reform and what the affect of 5-day delivery would be. He says weekends are important to the sales business.
Cornell University Professor Richard Geddes believes the Postal Service must adopt to technology and that other countries are far ahead of the United States Postal Service. Downsizing alone will not solve all the problems. He favors eliminating the postal monolopy.
I do not know why the NALC chose not to testify. This should be a priority issue for their members.
FedEx has become the Postal Service's fourth largest customer and UPS is in the top ten.
Package mailing and delivery has increased 14%, direct mail is stable, but first class mail is still declining.
The USPS has declined from 804,000 employees in 2000 to 495,000 today.
After watching this hearing, it is my opinion that the Senate will get postal reform done in a relatively quick manner, but there are no guarantees about what will happen in the House of Representatives. Postal reform died there last year. We must remain vigiliant and in contact with our elected officials.
Terry Grant, President OPWU AFL-CIO
For further information on postal reform and 5-day delivery, please read the articles below.