Opinion: Two Sides to Every Postal Legislation Story

Seemingly, everyone wants to take a chance at saving the U.S. Postal Service.

Since the Postal Service’s financial troubles and incredible shrinking volume have been well chronicled in the past few years, various legislators and industry pundits have offered opinions on what the USPS needs to survive.

This week the Senate proposed a bipartisan bill, titled “21st Century Postal Service Act of 2011,” which gives the Postal Regulatory Commission a great deal of authority when it comes to potential 5-day delivery and on the USPS offering non-postal products or services.

Having covered the postal beat at Multichannel Merchant for the past four-plus years, I wrote a story about it and included some reaction from industry folks who applauded the bill’s merits.

But when you take a minute and read comments from rank and file postal workers on the www.postalnews.com site, it’s a completely different story.

Several industry folks and postal employees believe the bill doesn’t fully address the heart of the Postal Service’s problem: the USPS network is way too large to support its current size.

There were several comments on that site posted below my story and here’s a snippet of them:

  • “Are you people living under a rock? Every company has downsized, including city and state employees. We are the last union to be rightsized, so get on board or join the unemployment line.”
  • “It’s funny. No matter what legislation is proposed, nobody has a good thing to say about it in most cases. All I have to say to this legislation … it’s about friggin’ time!”
  • “This bill forces retirees out of the comprehensive medical plans we worked hard to earn and counted on in our later years. This will narrow retiree’s choices of doctors, tests, and treatments. They passed out the Kool-Aid to the Senate Committee and they drank it. Employees and retirees must make themselves heard not once, but over and over again.”
  • “This bill merely codifies the narrative distortions that have driven the discussions so far. The bill sacrifices thousands of good jobs unnecessarily while barely recognizing the damage the PAEA did. It fails to hold the management of the Postal Service accountable in any meaningful way while allowing them to continue to dismantle the postal network.”

First-class mail was around 98 billion pieces in 2006, and is projected to fall to 54 billion in 2016 and 39 billion by 2020. Standard Mail was around 103 billion pieces in 2006 and is projected to slip to around 85 billion in the next decade.

Essentially, the USPS network is twice as big as it needs to be. Will Congress listen to the postal rank and file?