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Postal News Roundup

Treasury suggests review of postal rates – but not just for Amazon

The Washington Post - “A task force commissioned by President Trump to evaluate the Postal Service’s business model is recommending a slew of options to make it more profitable. But it did not go so far as to say the financially strapped Postal Service is losing money to Amazon, a company which contracts services from the Postal Service and that has consistently drawn Trump’s ire. Even though the 70-page report does not specifically cite its contract with Amazon, it does recommend a reevaluation of the pricing for e-commerce packages and other non-essential mail shipped by companies such as Amazon.”

Trump task force recommends ways to boost Postal Service

WECT - “A task force created by President Donald Trump to evaluate ways to stem billions of dollars in losses at the U.S. Postal Service suggested a range of options Tuesday, including proposals that could significantly boost the cost of sending non-essential mail… Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, charged that many of the recommendations in the report were based on ‘myth and misinformation’ and that instead of improving mail services ‘would deliver higher prices and less service to the public.’ In regard to charging more for non-essential postal services, officials who briefed reporters said person-to-person mail and person-to-person packages would be considered essential postal services and would be exempt from the higher rates that would be levied on non-essential mail.”

Trump admin’s proposed USPS package hike could push Amazon to bolster private shipping business

GeekWire - “President Donald Trump’s mission to get the United States Postal Service to extract better deals from retailers like Amazon got a boost Tuesday when a review he ordered reported that “packages have not been priced with profitability in mind.’…That’s a future feared by Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union. ‘Recommendations would slow down service, reduce delivery days and privatize large portions of the public Postal Service,’ he said in a statement Tuesday. ‘Most of the report’s recommendations, if implemented, would hurt business and individuals alike.’”

Postal task force seeks to remove USPS compensation from collective bargaining

Federal News Network podcast - “The USPS’s current business model has become outdated due to changes in technology, markets, and customer needs and preferences,’ the report states. ‘It is unsustainable and must be fundamentally changed if the USPS is to avoid a financial collapse and a taxpayer-funded bailout.’ One of the biggest changes to the Postal Service’s business model the task force recommends is that the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act ‘be amended to apply to the USPS and its employees, and remove USPS compensation from collective bargaining,’ which would mean changes to postal employees’ pay and benefits. ‘They’re clearly hoping to shift [USPS] to a system whose costs are more easily controlled and are way more predictable,’ Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow and the governance project director at the R Street Institute, said in an interview following the report’s release.”

Postal Task Force Releases Report

US Treasury - “The U.S. Department of the Treasury today released the Task Force report on the United States Postal System.  The report, United States Postal System: A Sustainable Path Forward, provides a series of recommendations to overhaul the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) business model in order to return it to sustainability without shifting additional costs to taxpayers.”

Trump Administration Task Force Nixes Postal Banking

Credit Union Times - “A Trump Administration task force studying the U.S. Postal System has recommended that the system stay out of the banking business.”

The Biggest Threat in the Postal Report Is to Rural Americans, Not Amazon

The New Republic - “’Postal report puts muscle behind Trump’s Amazon grudge,’ Axios blared. ‘Postal Service Review Proposes Sweeping Changes Likely to Hit Amazon,’ said The Wall Street Journal. ‘Postal service should be allowed to charge more for packages, review following Trump spat with Amazon finds,’ CNBC reported. This response is understandable, given that Trump ordered the creation of the task force shortly after alleging that Amazon was taking advantage of the Postal Service. But the impact on Amazon is not the most important piece of this study. The task force did not recommend selling off the Postal Service, as some feared it would. But it did suggest a radical change that would separate the Postal Service from its core mission: to provide unfettered access to communication and commerce to all citizens, regardless of who they are or where they live. Such a change would be an attack on the individual freedom of all Americans, but especially those in poor, rural communities.”

With Workers Under Attack, Labor Leaders Say Only 'Full-Throated Economic Populism' Can Defeat Corporate Elites

Common Dreams - “With the American labor movement under relentless assault by the right-wing Supreme Court, the Republican Party at both the state and federal level, and President Donald Trump's plutocratic administration, prominent union leaders convened during the final day of The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday to confront the existential threat facing the working class and emphasize the urgency of organizing at the grassroots level to fight back and build political power. ‘The working class is hurting, and they're done with business as usual,’ Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, declared during a panel discussion titled, ‘The Labor Movement: Essential to Democracy.’"

Fall 2018 Semiannual Report to Congress

USPS OIG - Report - “The Office of Inspector General is tasked with ensuring efficiency, accountability, and integrity in the U.S. Postal Service. We also have the distinct mission of helping to maintain confidence in the mail and postal system, as well as to improve the Postal Service's bottom line. We use audits and investigations to help protect the integrity of the Postal Service. Our Semiannual Report to Congress presents a snapshot of the work we did to fulfill our mission for the six-month period ending September 30, 2018. Our dynamic report format provides readers with easy access to facts and information, as well as succinct summaries of the work by area. Links are provided to the full reports featured in this report, as well as to the appendices.”

This futuristic car could solve a multibillion-dollar problem facing Amazon, Walmart, and Target

Business Insider - “The company behind Walmart's pickup towers has developed a self-driving car that could upend the last-mile delivery industry. The car, called Lotte, is a robotic courier. It autonomously transports packages to homes and businesses and uses a robotic arm to place the packages in a pickup locker. Eventually, it will be able to deliver packages to mailboxes and pickup towers as well.”

US, Canada, Mexico sign NAFTA replacement at G20

Vox - “Labor unions have also been hesitant about USMCA, with some, such as the AFL-CIO, expressing reservations that the new labor protections don’t go far enough and lack strict enforcement rules.”

Senate Republicans vote to scale back Michigan minimum wage, paid sick leave laws
The Detroit News - “Michigan Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to scale back minimum wage and paid sick leave laws over objections from Democrats, who argued the lame-duck maneuvers may be unconstitutional and undermine the will of voters who signed petitions for the initiatives. The 26-12 votes came just hours after the Senate Government Operations Committee unveiled and quickly approved major modifications to the citizen-initiated laws, which legislators adopted in September in order to keep them off the Nov. 6 ballot and make them easier to amend. The measures now head to the House for possible consideration next week.”

Republicans to hold lame-duck session to limit Tony Evers and advance GOP priorities
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - “Republican lawmakers plan to hold a lame-duck session as early as next week to curb the incoming Democratic governor's powers over state rules, add GOP appointees to a state board, and possibly move the 2020 presidential primary to help a conservative state Supreme Court justice. Unlikely to be part of the session is the reason lawmakers claim to be calling it in the first place: a long-stalled $70 million subsidy package to save a Kimberly-Clark Corp. plant in the Fox Valley.”

Postal workers in France are helping elderly people fight loneliness

The European Sting - France - “Mail workers for the French postal service La Poste are being paid to pop in on elderly people on a weekly basis, before sending updates to concerned relatives. Called Veiller Sur Mes Parents (watch over my parents), the service costs from 19.90 euros ($22.50) a month and includes a weekly visit and report, as well as a monthly personalized newsletter made from family messages and photos the post worker prints out.”      

Postal workers, union allies protest strike-breaking legislation

CBC.ca - Canada - “Snow did not keep postal workers and their union allies inside Saturday, as hundreds in Calgary, Edmonton and across the country rallied to protest ...”