On the Scene at the National Postal Forum: Postal Pros Debate Reform Needs

Denver—George Gould, legislative/political director for the National Association of Letter Carriers—the U.S. Postal Service’s second-largest union–urged mailers to learn from the past and work together to encourage postal reform.

“I was involved with drafting the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act,” Gould told an audience during an Oct. 15 session on postal reform at the National Postal Forum here. He noted that the key to the passage of that law–which created and has since governed the operations of the USPS–was that it was put together by a group of mailing pros with considerable differences. “Mailers, Congress, the unions were all divided from within,” Gould said. But they nontheless created a successful coalition. But in the five years since Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) unveiled his first unsuccessful postal reform bill, Gould said, not enough people of differing interests have tried to come together to iron out a plan. (McHugh recently unveiled a draft of a new version of his postal reform bill, a bill that’s supposed to be formally introduced this fall.)

The key to coming up with a postal reform measure that will make it through the House and Senate, Gould said, is to take the most threatening and controversial issues off the table: “With the current postal reform efforts, we have a collective lint trap. A lot of people don’t want to take chances.

Also on the panel was Direct Marketing Association senior vice president, government affairs Jerry Cerasale, who said that universal payment systems and a universal delivery system are keys to reforming the USPS. “We need to give the Postal Service some flexibility to help keep mailer costs at or below the inflation rate,” he said.

Ed Hudgins, director of regulatory studies for the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said that he feels the most important change to the USPS should be its privatization. “The postal labor system is dysfunctional, and it’s not addressed by McHugh,” he said. “The McHugh system is incentive based,” which won’t necessarily solve the agency’s productivity shortcomings.

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