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)…”

Postal News Roundup - Jan. 31, 2017

Business Insider: An award-winning proposal could turn underused post offices into food delivery stations
“The winners of Urban SOS: Fair Share — a competition that asks undergraduate students to find solutions to cities' most urgent issues — hope to address this problem. Students at Washington University in St. Louis created the winning proposal, which would turn LA post offices and their distribution networks into a food delivery system. Their submission, called ‘First Class Meal,’ would send postal service trucks to pick up food donations from grocery stores, agencies, or individuals along their regular routes. The trucks would either deliver the free food to specified households or bring it back to the post office for later delivery or pick-up. While most of the city's post office buildings would continue to process mail, the proposal would turn underutilized areas of the buildings into food pantries. People could also pick up goods at the post offices...”

Pew Research Center: Most Americans see labor unions, corporations favorably
“With President Donald Trump’s labor secretary nominee set to appear before the Senate next week, the public has broadly positive views of both labor unions and business corporations. About six-in-ten adults today have a favorable view of labor unions (60%) and business corporations (56%), according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Views of both have grown more positive since March 2015, when roughly half of adults (48%) expressed a favorable view of each… Young people are far more likely than older adults to view labor unions favorably. Three-quarters of those ages 18 to 29 say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions, while only about half of those 50 and older (53%) have a positive opinion of unions…”

Postal News Roundup - Jan. 26, 2017

TownHall: What You May Not Know About the U.S. Postal Service – Op-ed by NALC President Fredric Rolando
“The U.S. Postal Service delivers to 155 million homes and businesses from coast to coast, six and increasingly seven days a week. It’s based in the Constitution and is 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, and is the nation’s largest civilian employer of military veterans. For these and other reasons, the Postal Service enjoys enthusiastic support from the public and from lawmakers across the political spectrum, including from many conservative and Republican legislators. A narrow subset of commentators, however, who seek to privatize some or all of its functions, have been writing ‘sky-is-falling’ pieces that mislead about Postal Service finances while ignoring the broader context of its value to our society…”

Federal News Radio: Chaffetz: Postal Reform bill needed to reform ‘unsustainable’ trajectory
“After years of pressuring from the Postal Service and a series of stalled bipartisan bills, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has made postal reform a top priority for this Congress. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee’s chairman, told lawmakers Tuesday at a goal-setting organizational meeting that last year’s efforts served as a “good starting point” for getting a postal reform bill on President Donald Trump’s desk within the next two years. ‘They’re on a financial trajectory that is unsustainable and we need to engage in bipartisan postal reform,’ Chaffetz said…”

Baltimore Post Examiner: Baltimore’s Black Worker Center organizes
“’Research is important, but statistics alone don’t touch the heart,’ Courtney ‘C.J.’ Jenkins, a processing clerk with the United States Postal Service told attendees. ‘We will organize by telling our stories and listening to each other,’ says Jenkins, who worked at Burger King, California Tortilla and a Baltimore box company before finally taking his mother’s advice and applying for a job with the U.S. Postal Service. He is now the youngest elected officer on American Postal Worker Local 181’s executive board and a member of the AFL-CIO’s Young Worker Advisory Council. Jenkins and other activists say they hope the center will promote vocational education, help incubate collectively owned businesses where young workers can ‘monetize their skills’ and ‘formalize their access to resources and networks, jobs and schools…’”

Postal News Roundup

USPS Link: Peak Performance: USPS number add up to busy season
“The holidays are over, but the numbers that show how much work the Postal Service accomplished are still emerging. USPS surpassed its projections of delivering 750 million packages during peak season, according to new data. On Dec. 19, one of the season’s busiest days, the Postal Service delivered more than 34 million packages...”

CBS News: President Trump vows to start renegotiating NAFTA
“President Trump offered up a brief preview of his priorities for meetings with international leaders in the coming weeks, suggesting Sunday that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be on the chopping block in the near future. ‘We’re going to start some negotiations having to do with NAFTA,” Mr. Trump said in his opening remarks at a White House event to swear in senior administration officials. “I ran a campaign somewhat based on NAFTA. But we’re going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration, on security at the border…’"

CBC News, Toronto: Never miss a package again: Toronto inventor has a solution to missed postal deliveries
“’I love driving across town to pick up my missed deliveries — said no one ever,’ is how Eric Martin felt when he came up with the idea for Boxr, a "smart bench" that doubles as a secure mailbox. The prototype for this practical piece of furniture will be featured at the Interior Design Show this weekend. The bench has a lock activated by a keypad. The homeowner can then share that code in the delivery instructions for mail orders. Martin also envisions the box being used for food deliveries…”

Postal News Roundup - Jan. 19, 2017

In These Times: How the American Postal Workers Union Scored One of its Biggest Wins Ever
“Members of one of the largest labor unions for post office workers are celebrating the success of a three-year campaign to roll back a commercial alliance between the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and office supplies retailer Staples that threatened a major advance in the privatization of the national mail system. Coming just before the accession of Donald Trump to the White House, the victory marks one of the most successful corporate campaigns by any labor union during the Obama era. The success also marks the rejuvenation of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) under the leadership of Mark Dimondstein. First elected as president in 2013, Dimondstein promised union members a more aggressive attack on USPS privatization initiatives and a more progressive union overall. He delivered on those promises with the Staples campaign...”

Postal News Roundup

Retail Dive: Walgreens adding FedEx dropoff, pickup locations nationwide
“The deal between Walgreens and FedEx is like the one that office supplies retailer Staples has with United Parcel Service. Staples recently agreed to shut down similar United States Postal Service operations following outcry from the postal workers union, abetted by an unfavorable ruling from the National Labor Relations Board. The move takes advantage of the growth in e-commerce, which has an increasing number of U.S. consumers dealing with the logistics of accepting (and returning) online orders…”

The Week: England – Post Office to close 37 branches in latest franchise push 
“A further showdown between Post Office bosses and unions has been sparked by the announcement that the service is to close another 37 of its "crown" branches. According to the Communication Workers' Union (CWU), the move will put 290 core jobs at risk, plus 127 specialist financial services staff. Bosses say they intend to replace the branches with franchised concessions in retailers, in line with the vast majority of the 11,600 outlets trading under the brand across the country…”

Metro: England - Life as a Post Office employee
“I joined the Post Office as a Financial Service Specialist some eight years ago. When I was working in a Basildon branch, the bombshell announcement came – we were up for franchise. It was a huge shock and I remember that Tuesday morning very clearly. Some of the staff were lost for words, others cried and the rest of us just could not understand why this was happening. In the days and weeks that followed, the uncertainty was palpable and the confusion dominated the topic of conversation.”

AFL-CIO Blog: Union Plus Scholarships Provide the Keys for Immigrant Families to Unlock the American Dream
“Michelle Huang of Brooklyn, N.Y, whose parents emigrated from Guangzhou, China, is studying to become a pharmacist. She looks at how far she’s come along her educational journey and knows that she would have never been able to take the first steps without her father Zhantu’s membership in the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 10. Relating the story of how her father went on strike and helped pass the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, Michelle recalls, ‘My father became empowered to speak up for his rights. I am not sure how I can ever repay APWU…’”