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Congress Must Act Now to Save USPS, Guffey Tells Senators

For Immediate Release

02/12/2013 - “The crisis confronting the Postal Service is dire, but the demise of the USPS is not inevitable,” APWU President Cliff Guffey will tell a Senate panel on Feb. 13. “Congress can cure the illness without killing the patient,” he said in a statement [PDF] prepared for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“To do this, Congress must end the mandate of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) that requires the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees. This requirement, which ostensibly was implemented to protect taxpayers in the event the USPS ‘goes under,’ is instead drowning the agency in a sea of debt.

“Congress also must grant the Postal Service flexibility to increase rates. In addition to saddling the Postal Service with a $5.5 billion annual mandate that no other government agency or private company bears, the PAEA prohibits the USPS from raising postage rates above the rate of inflation. This flawed law imposes a major liability on the USPS, but prevents it from raising the revenue it needs to meet the obligation.

“The USPS has already made deep cuts to service; slashing service further will only weaken this great institution, make it less relevant, and less competitive.

“Congress must reject privatization of the Postal Service. Privatization is wrong for the Postal Service and wrong for America. According to a recent study by the PEW Center, one in five American adults does not use the Internet. Senior citizens, adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have internet access. In addition, 40 percent of American adults – nearly 100 million people – do not have broadband access.

“Privatization will leave these customers by the side of the road. It also will result in sharp price increases. An examination of privatized posts in other countries demonstrates this clearly.

So how can Congress meet the needs of those who haven’t joined the digital revolution and remain useful for those who have? Legislators must free the Postal Service to develop new products and new sources of revenue.

“America needs its Postal Service. Businesses rely on it, customers depend on it. In a still weak economy, the USPS generated $65 billion worth of business in 2012. Private couriers will not serve all of America. They will serve only the markets that seem likely to generate a profit. Privatization would destroy the essence of our nation’s mail system, whose mission is to bind the nation together.”

“The time for action is now.  We will do whatever we can to help Congress and the Postal Service make these changes.”