How Low Will the Postmaster General Go? and Other Top Stories of the Week

PMG DonahoeHow Low Will PMG Donahoe Go?
by NALC President Fredric Rolando

A few years ago, Postmaster General Pat Donahoe did something that really shocked me. He testified before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives and said that he supported “practically everything” in a truly putrid piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa, the committee’s chairman. That bill, H.R. 2309 (the Postal Reform Act of 2011), which never gained more than one other co-sponsor during the 112th Congress, would have destroyed the Postal Service.

It offered no relief from the crushing pre-funding mandate that has devastated the Postal Service’s finances over the past seven years, and it called for massive service and job cuts while subjecting the USPS Board of Governors to a humiliating financial control board. It was a betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of postal employees–managers and craft employees alike–who have made the U.S. Postal Service the best post office in the world. (Read the rest of Rolando’s column here.)

An Open Letter to PMG Donahoe
by David Bordewyk, General Manager, South Dakota Newspaper Association

Dear Postmaster General Donahoe:

I do hope this letter arrives at your office in reasonable time.

Sarcasm aside, there was a time when I put a First Class stamp on a letter and mailed it, I had confidence, depending on its destination, it would get there overnight or within two or three days. There was a time when newspaper publishers could expect their latest edition would reach mail subscribers in a reasonable time frame as well.

Today, that confidence doesn’t exist.

And your latest plan to close more than 80 mail processing plants around the country – including the Dakota Central facility in Huron – will erase any shreds of remaining confidence.

You have a difficult job. Mail trends have not been kind to your business the past several years, thanks in large part to the internet and 9-11. First Class mail – still the biggest generator of revenue for you – has dropped more than 35 percent the last dozen years or so.

So how do you clear a path for the survival of the Postal Service in the face of some mighty strong headwinds? Obviously, you need to reduce expenditures and tighten the belt to fit new realities.

But I believe your latest plan goes too far. From the 30,000-foot view at USPS headquarters, your latest plant consolidation plan may look good on the spreadsheet. But looking at it from here on Main Street and the mailbox-dotted gravel roads of South Dakota, it’s a clunker. (Read the rest of the open letter here.)

The Most Insane Law By Congress, Ever?
by Dan Casey, roanoke.com

Most Americans have never heard of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. The mind-numbing title alone sounds like it could put a hardcore insomniac to sleep. The truth is, it’s one of the most insane laws Congress ever enacted.

It’s past time for people in the Roanoke Valley to wake up about it. Because that legislation, sponsored by a (former) Virginia congressman, has real potential to kill 300 to 400 blue-collar jobs here in the Star City. Those have a combined payroll of more than $1 million annually.

My colleagues Matt Chittum and Zach Crizer wrote about those coming job cuts in last week’s paper. The U.S. Postal Service announced a consolidation plan that would move mail-processing operations now in Roanoke to Greensboro, North Carolina. Roanoke is one of 82 such operations around the country that would be closed.

Those cuts could slow your mail, because a cross-town birthday card may have to go to Greensboro and back before it’s delivered. Among the hundreds of jobs on the line are those held by 120 military veterans, 80 of whom are disabled.

Closing operations here may also cost bulk mailers the discount they now get for doing business in a city with a mail-processing center. Maybe those companies will go away, too. That’s even more jobs.

This is necessary, we’ve been told, because the postal service is deeply in the red to the tune of $46 billion in accumulated debt. It is indeed facing a financial crisis. But almost the entire reason for the crisis is that insane 2006 law. (Read the rest of Casey’s column here.)

Other stories of interest:

Issa’s Last Ditch Effort to Eliminate Saturday Delivery Falls Short.

Video: North Carolina Consolidation at Rocky Mount Plant to Cost Jobs, Slow Mail Delivery.

Video: Seagrove, NC Fights to Keep Post Office.

Butterfield Seeks Answers to USPS-Proposed Changes at Rocky Mount Mail Processing Plant.

(pictured: PMG Donahoe/bing images)

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