Blog: February 2017

Postal News Roundup

ECommerce Bytes: eBay Creates Petition to Keep Postage Prices Low
“eBay is urging users to sign its petition requesting the Postal Regulatory Commission not to raise shipping costs. eBay sent an email this week to members of its Main Street grassroots lobbying program with the title, ‘eBay Says Keep USPS Prices Low.’ Why is the Postal Regulatory Commission reviewing postage rates? It's the law, as the USPS explained in a post this week. In the petition, eBay tells the PRC that the USPS is a ‘key package delivery service’ for eBay's top sellers, and says higher postage results in abandoned online shopping carts…”

ECommerce Bytes: USPS Explains the Postage Pricing Review
“The PRC is reviewing the system used to regulate Postal Service rates and classes. When PMG Megan J. Brennan testified this month about postal reform legislation, she discussed the importance of a 10-year pricing review being conducted by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC)… The goal is to determine if the current system is meeting its objectives, which include enabling USPS to be financially stable and ensuring the organization has adequate resources to offer high-quality services…”

ABC News: UPS tests out drone delivery service
“FORT MYERS - Keep your eyes to the sky because one more shipping giant is setting its sights on delivery by drone. UPS on Monday tested new drone delivery technology in Florida. Fort Myers is home to a large service center for UPS customers, and ABC7 wanted to know how residents feel about the new technology. Delivery via drone is already a reality for retailers like Amazon, but now UPS is jumping on the bandwagon and is close to perfecting the technology to get packages to your doorstep with a drone…”

Postal News Roundup

Postal News: Utilimaster pulls out of USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicle Program as body builder
“Spartan Motors, Inc., a global leader in specialty chassis and vehicle design, manufacturing and assembly, today announced that its Spartan Fleet Vehicles and Services (FVS) business unit — which encompasses the Utilimaster go-to-market brand — has stopped development on the United States Postal Service (USPS) Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) Program as a prime contractor in the functional prototype development project and has sought withdrawal from the USPS. Spartan is continuing efforts to support this project and will partner with a leading USPS prototype award participant, to provide interior cargo solutions specific for the USPS’s needs…”

Go Local Prov: Weiss: Overhauling Social Security & Medicare Gets ‘Thumbs Down’ in Recent Poll Findings
“Nancy Olumekor, Retiree Department American Postal Workers Union, came calling for Congressional support to improve Social Security and Medicare.  ‘Our members did not vote to destroy Social Security and Medicare to replace them with vouchers. Postal workers are opposed to increasing the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security,’ she said.”

Postal News Roundup - Feb. 16, 2017

Baltimore Post Examiner: Labor leaders given World Peace Awards in D.C. Ceremony
“On Capitol Hill, on Tuesday afternoon two stalwarts of the cause of Organized Labor, John Sweeney and Elizabeth Powell, were awarded with the “Roving Ambassador for Peace” award. Sweeney is the President-Emeritus of the AFL-CIO and Ms. Powell is the Secretary-Treasurer of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). The ceremony was held in the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, on the eighth floor, with a splendid view of the White House and Washington Monument in the background…”

Post and Parcel: OIG publishes report on international postal price regulation
“The US Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has published a report which looks at how postal prices are regulated in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The report, which was produced for OIG by WIK-Consult, found that in all five countries ‘regulators revisited and modified price regulation to allow for greater pricing flexibility in response to changing market conditions.’ OIG commented: ‘Changes occurred in two ways — reduction in the scope of products covered by regulation and allowance of higher price increases on regulated products. Most recently, the changes have allowed price increases that are greater than inflation…’”

Postal News Roundup

USPS: U.S. Postal Service Reports Fiscal Year 2017 First Quarter Results
“Excluding the effects of a $1.7 billion change in its workers' compensation liability due to fluctuations in interest rates, the U.S. Postal Service posted a net loss of approximately $200 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 (October 1, 2016 - December 31, 2016). Controllable income for the quarter was $522 million compared to $1.3 billion for the same period last year, a decrease of $735 million. Operating revenue decreased by $155 million, and was significantly impacted by the April 2016 expiration of the exigent surcharge. If the exigent surcharge had remained in place, the Postal Service would have generated approximately $570 million in additional revenue during the quarter…”

Federal News Radio: Postal Service reports $200M loss, despite increase in package delivery
“Despite double-digit growth in its package delivery during last year’s holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service posted a $200 million net loss for the first quarter of fiscal 2017. USPS reported $522 million in controllable income in what is usually its strongest quarter, but marks a significant decrease from the $1.3 billion in controllable income it posted in the same period for fiscal 2016. Postal officials attributed some of its losses to the reversal of the 2-cent exigent postal rate increase, which the Postal Regulatory Commission repealed in April 2016. USPS estimates it would have earned $570 million in additional revenue this quarter had the rate remained...”

Tribune Review: Postal Service wants to boost security of U.S.-bound packages 
“The Postal Service said Thursday it is committed to strengthening the security of mail from foreign countries. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation's first Homeland Security secretary, told the Tribune-Review this week that a loophole in federal law has helped create a pipeline for opioids to be shipped illegally to the United States. Ridge said the Postal Service and foreign postal services aren't required to include advance electronic security data with U.S.-bound packages as are private shippers such as FedEx and UPS. The data help authorities more effectively target packages with contraband such as drugs, he said. Washington lawmakers are expected to introduce legislation soon that would require the data on all items shipped to the United States…”

DC Velocity: USPS warns defection of three key customers could hurt package business
“The U.S. Postal Service warned today that the multi-year growth of its shipping and package operations could be jeopardized if the three customers responsible for most of the business continue to expand their shipping capabilities and divert business from USPS. USPS, which made the comments in a quarterly government filing that included its fiscal first-quarter results, did not identify the customers. However, they are believed to be Seattle-based Inc., Memphis-based FedEx Corp., and Atlanta-based UPS Inc. The three are big users of a USPS service known as "Parcel Select," where companies induct packages deep into the postal system for last-mile deliveries to residences…”

Postal News Roundup

Government Executive: There May Finally Be a Breakthrough in the Fight for Postal Reform
“The four major unions representing U.S. Postal Service employees have all thrown their support behind a renewed effort to overhaul the agency, providing what supporters are calling a “watershed event” in the drawn-out battle for reform. Lawmakers expressed broad bipartisan support for the 2017 Postal Reform Act at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Tuesday, saying the time has long since passed for Congress to act on USPS’ behalf. Republicans on the committee and witnesses at the hearing said reform is urgent, arguing that doing nothing would result in a taxpayer-funded bailout of the mailing agency. Lawmakers have struggled in each of the last several sessions of Congress to bring together the array of different interests in USPS affairs, but appeared to reach a breakthrough with their latest efforts. Unlike previous attempts at postal reform, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union all threw their support behind the bill. Art Sackler, head of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service -- a group representing dozens of private sector businesses in mailing and other industries -- also announced his association’s full backing. Postmaster General Megan Brennan said her agency supported the bill as well…”

The Hill: House panel hones in on postal service reform
“One of Congress’s most contentious committees is pushing toward a rare bipartisan victory: reforming the United States Postal Service. Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee praised each other during a Tuesday hearing for closing in on a bill to streamline USPS services and salvage its debt-riddled employee benefit plans. It’s a remarkable shift in tone for a panel that erupted in shouting over Russian hacking last week during a routine meeting. The USPS lost a net $5.3 billion in fiscal 2016, its tenth straight year of losses, and faces $120 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to federal data. That includes a $21.3 billion budget shortfall…” 

Washington Post: House panel displays bipartisan unity over bill to save Postal Service from financial ruin
“There have been days when 2157 Rayburn House Office Building had the feel of a boxing match. It’s the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee room where Republicans and Democrats have been known to go at each other with vehemence. That wasn’t the case Tuesday. Members on each side of the dais went out of their way to praise representatives from both parties for work on legislation designed to save the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from financial ruin. For more years than can be easily remembered, the Postal Service has pleaded with Congress for help with its financial situation. Members of Congress, along with postal unions and other interested folks, agreed that the financial picture was bleak, but consensus on getting out of the hole seemed beyond reach…”

Washington Post: Postal Service finances ‘very serious but solvable’ as bipartisan action develops
“The umpteenth time might be the charm. For almost more years than can be remembered, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has pleaded with Congress for help with its seemingly futile financial situation. Politicians from both parties, along with postal unions and other interested folks, agreed that the USPS financial picture was bleak, but consensus on getting out of the hole seemed beyond reach. Now, with bipartisan legislation being considered in the infamously partisan House, hopeless no longer describes the Postal Service’s future. It’s not fixed yet, but the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 provides a degree of optimism that for many years was absent…”

Government Executive: Trump Administration Reportedly Considering Federal Union Busting, Civil Service Reforms
“The Trump administration is committed to reforming civil service laws, according to a champion of public sector workforce changes at the state level who said he is advising the White House on the issue. Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., said this week he met with Vice President Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the White House to discuss how the administration can bring reforms in Wisconsin to the federal level. The two-term governor rose to prominence over his controversial “right-to-work” legislation that stripped most state and local employees of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. Pence and Gingrich, an unofficial Trump adviser, gave Walker’s ideas a warm reception, the governor said…”

Postal News Roundup

Washington Examiner: The Postal Service is a Success. Here’s What Congress Can Do to Make it Better
“Overall, the Postal Service delivers to 155 million residences and businesses six and increasingly seven days a week, providing them with the industrial world's most affordable delivery network. Consistently rated the public's most trusted federal agency, the USPS is particularly critical to small towns and rural areas as well as to small businesses. It is also the nation's largest civilian employer of military veterans…”

The FedEx to Rely on Robots, Autonomous Trucks & Drones for Delivery
“Multi-billion dollar companies like FedEx and Amazon are actively looking into the possibility of utilizing futuristic technologies like robotics, autonomous driving, and drones to facilitate the delivery of goods and packages. Earlier this year, the US$50 billion shipping giant FedEx secured investments in startups focusing on the development of delivery robots and autonomous trucks to ensure the company has a clear vision and roadmap for future operations going forward. There exists a variety of operations and processes which are better handled by robots and artificial intelligence (AI), particularly those that require absolute precision and accuracy...” Cluster Boxes – USPS not delivering to some residents in Bonaire neighborhood
“But a dispute and continued confusion between a developer, builder, and the U.S. Postal Service means the mail isn't getting delivered in one Bonaire neighborhood…Unless developers install a cluster box for new residential developments, residents will have to pick up their mail at the local post office, the statement says.”

Pentegram: Veterans without a place to call home: VA’s 60-day plan to combat homelessness
“The American Postal Workers Union comprised of United States Postal Service, current and former employees, were just one of a long roster of partners at the stand down. ‘We provided survival items to not only homeless veterans, but to at-risk and transitional veterans as well,’ said Susan Carney, National Human Relations director for the American Postal Workers Union…’Anyone can end up on the receiving end of this situation,’ said Elizabeth Powell, American Postal Workers Union secretary and treasurer. ‘It can happen to any one of us at any time…’”

Postal News Roundup - Feb. 1, 2017

San Francisco Bay View: 'The US Mail is not for sale’: Union victory over Staples and postal privatization
“Five years ago the Post Office began a series of moves aimed at the step-by-step privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, the country’s largest unionized employer. One such move was a 2013 program to farm out postal window services to so-called “postal counters” at 500-plus Staples office supply stores. The American Postal Workers Union confidently swung into action, with an ambitious campaign to beat back the Staples challenge – from nationwide boycott, internet organizing and mass demonstrations at Staples stores, to legal action, Inspector General investigations and Labor Board appeals...”

Government Executive: Internal Promotions, Postal Service and CIA amount Trump’s Hiring Freeze Exemptions
“A slew of positions are now exempt from President Trump’s government wide hiring freeze, according to new guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management. In the second piece of guidance obtained by Government Executive since Trump signed the presidential memorandum last week ordering the freeze, Mark Sandy and Kathleen McGettigan, the respective acting OMB and OPM directors, spelled out in significant detail what exemptions the administration will permit. Trump’s memo initially said only positions in “national security and public safety” -- as well as those determined to be necessary by the OPM director -- would be free from the moratorium, though agencies have since interpreted that to include public health and other areas…” Press Release – Committee Leaders Introduce Bipartisan Postal Reform Legislation
“Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee leaders introduced H.R. 756, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017. The bill addresses unfunded liabilities of the United States Postal Service (USPS), makes reforms to keep mailing costs affordable for consumers, and encourages innovation, all without additional borrowing capacity from the U.S. taxpayer… ‘This bipartisan measure will make the policy changes that are most urgently needed to put the Postal Service on sound and sustainable long-term financial footing. This collaborative reform effort places the Postal Service on a path toward a viable future…’” Legislation Introduced to Reform Postal Employees’ Benefits
“Legislation has been introduced in the House to make a number of reforms to the Postal Service. The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756) would make pension funding reforms, allow for postal rate increases and even allow the Postal Service to provide non-postal services in some cases. The bill is being introduced by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and is co-sponsored by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Stephen Lynch (D-MA)…”