IMPORTANT: This information should not be downloaded using government equipment, read during duty time or sent to others using government equipment, because it suggests action to be taken in support or against legislation. Do not use your government email address or government phone in contacting your Member of Congress.
Over the past several years, there have been numerous measures introduced in the House and Senate to address the Postal Service’s financial condition and to facilitate a viable future for one of America’s most useful and popular institutions. Many of these bills had important components to return the Postal Service to operating as a financially sound company, while many others completely miss the mark, favoring efforts to dismantle the Postal Service rather to save it. However, S. 316 and H.R. 630, both titled “The Postal Service Protection Act,” are the only pieces of legislation that include all the key provisions necessary to return the Postal Service to financial health in both the short and long terms, while preserving its vital networks, high-quality service standards and solid middle-class jobs.
Eliminating the future retiree health benefit pre-funding requirement.
The most immediate problem facing the Postal Service is the requirement to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. The Postal Service is the only organization, public or private, that is required by law to prefund such benefits. This unfair burden costs USPS between $5.4 billion and $5.8 billion every year. Without the pre-funding requirement, the Postal Service would have had an operational profit between 2007 and 2010. If passed, S. 316 and H.R. 630 would eliminate the USPS’s unique and unfairly burdensome pre-funding requirement.
Returning CSRS and FERS overpayments to the Postal Service
According to studies by the Office of the Inspector General and the Postal Regulatory Commission, the Postal Service has overpaid between $50 billion and $75 billion into its CSRS pension fund. S. 316 and H.R. 630 call for allowing the Postal Service to recover the over-payments by transferring CSRS assets, paid for by ratepayer and employee contributions (not taxpayer funds), to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund. In addition, the bill includes a proposal by President Obama to return any surplus in the postal portion of the FERS pension fund as well. These measures would have no effect on any current or future federal retiree’s annuity benefits.
Protecting six-day mail delivery
Since 1983, Congress has had to annually renew USPS’ requirement to maintain six-day mail delivery service in an appropriations bill. If passed, S. 316 and H.R. 630 would establish permanent legislation that requires USPS to deliver mail six days a week.
Establishing new revenue for the Postal Service
S. 316 and H.R. 630 call for an end to prohibiting USPS from providing non-postal services. New services could include notary services, the issuance of licenses, the provision of services for state and local agencies and the shipping of wine and beer. Other countries have had success with non-postal services. Post offices in France offer banking and insurance services; in Sweden, post offices physically deliver e-mail messages to people who are not online; and post offices in Switzerland allow users to have their physical mail received, scanned and delivered to their e-mail inboxes.
These bills also would create an entrepreneurial commission composed of successful business innovators, representatives of labor and small businesses to provide recommendations on how the Postal Service can generate new revenue to succeed in the 21st century.
Preventing the closure of rural post offices
Currently, the Postal Service is directed to consider the effects of closures on the community and postal employees before closing a post office. Up to this point, USPS has done a poor job reviewing these impacts. If passed, S. 316 and H.R. 630 would give the Postal Regulatory Commission binding authority to prevent post office closures that would adversely affect communities and employees. USPS also would be prohibited from considering whether a post office is turning a profit when making closure decisions. And USPS would be required to inform communities though newspaper and magazine announcements when their post offices were being studied for closure. Those announcements would need to outline the reasons for such studies.
Protecting mail-processing facilities
S. 316 and H.R. 630 call for creating strict standards for delivering First Class Mail on time. This would make it more difficult to close area mail-processing facilities.
S. 316 and H.R. 630 provide reasonable, fair and responsible ways to address the Postal Service and its immediate and long-term health and viability. The NALC urges members of Congress to stand up for preserving this vital government service by co-sponsoring S. 316 and H.R. 630 today.