Grass roots organization the Maine Postal Reform Committee (MPRC) is making headway. The group’s chief organizer Chris Bradley, president of bedding cataloger Cuddledown of Maine, gave attendees of the New England Mail Order Association (NEMOA) fall conference held this week in Portsmouth, NH, an update on its progress.
Formed last spring, the MPRC is comprised of paper mills, commercial printers, lettershops, and catalogers, including L.L. Bean, Sturbridge Yankee Workshop, and Planet Dog. The group’s goal: to enlist the aid of legislators in reforming the USPS.
“We now have two advocates for postal reform,” Bradley said. The committee first met with Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME), part of the House Committee on Government Reform, in April to show him how many people the member companies employed and present case studies of how postal hikes have hurt the businesses. Then in May, the group met with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who is part of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, which oversees the USPS. In July, Sen. Collins introduced Bill S.2754 that would establish a presidential commission to reform the USPS.
The formation of a commission is important, said Bradley’s co-presenter Jim O’Brien, director of distribution and postal affairs for Time, Inc. A commission would allow Congress to ultimately take action. If not, O’Brien said, “The USPS is in a death spiral of declining revenues and increasing expenses.”
Indeed, “Postal rates should not be increasing well beyond inflation as they been,” Bradley said. “When we put more money into postage, we cannot pass that expense on to customers and remain competitive.” Mailers forced to trim expenses often have to cut staff, and that’s bad news for the individual workers and the economy at large, he noted. At Cuddledown alone, the postal rate hikes in the past two years forced his company to cut its work force from 90 employees to 80. The cataloger, which mails 10 million books a year, spends about $3 million on postage annually. Another 8% increase would increase the mailer’s postage bill by $240,000, which could translate to the loss of eight $30,000-a-year jobs.