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Showdown over mail delivery looming on Capitol Hill (but not this month)

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One way or another, it looks like a major congressional battle is headed our way over the U.S. Postal Service’s long-sought goal of ending most six-day mail delivery. One possible flash point is the postal overhaul bill (H.R. 2309) sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Dennis Ross, R-Fla., which would allow postal officials to begin moving to five-day delivery within six months of the legislation’s being signed into law.

The House’s Republican leadership had hoped to bring the Issa measure to the floor this month; earlier this week, the National Association of Letter Carriers said its “most urgent goal is to prevent this devastating bill from ever becoming law” and announced that it was setting up a toll-free number for members to contact individual lawmakers in opposition.

With mail volume in steady decline, curtailing six-day delivery is at the top of the Postal Service’s cost-cutting agenda. The projected savings are close to $3 billion per year. But the NALC, whose members obviously have a lot to lose, says that step would “destroy” 200,000 jobs. In today’s fractured Congress, this is one of those rare issues that can bring lawmakers together across party lines, raising questions about whether the Issa/Ross bill can pass. A slim bipartisan majority of 222 House members have signed on to a non-binding resolution sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., urging the Postal Service to stick with the status quo.

And late Wednesday, a Ross spokesman confirmed an online report by The Hill newspaper that chances of action on the bill this month are now slim. “It appears, although we have the votes, leadership does not intend for postal reform to come to the floor before [the] August recess,” the spokesman, Fred Piccolo, told FedLine in an email.

But there’s another front in this fight.  Even though the Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, it still has to abide by the wishes of congressional appropriators. And both the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2013 financial services and general government spending bills would require continuation of six-day delivery.

Six-day delivery “is one of the most important services provided by the federal government to its citizens,” the Senate Appropriations Committee wrote in an explanatory report accompanying its version of the bill. “Especially in rural and small-town America, this critical postal service is the linchpin that serves to bind the nation together.”

The Senate bill would also put new restrictions on the Postal Service’s freedom to close mail processing plants, raising alarms from the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service,  a mailers’ group. Although individual members have different views on the potential benefits of cutting mail service, “we are united in our  conviction that the Postal Service must reduce its operational capacity,” the coalition said in a letter to top members of the appropriations committees this week. “Bringing in additional issues can only generate additional uncertainty and potential delay in the passage of reform legislation that is so critical to returning the Postal Service to financial stability.”

[This story has been updated]

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Comments

  1. Sharon Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Baloney. We do not need 6 day delivery. The statement made by the Senate appropriations commitee regarding the necessity of 6 day delivery to bind the nation together is pure bull and demonstrates once again the need for term limits. Congress is completely out of touch with the needs of average Americans.

  2. hugh foley Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I getr my meds through the mail and worry that 5 day service would delay my getting my insulin when needed.
    also we have a choice vote tetalman and dump Issa

  3. Ms. Window clerk Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Sharon dear are you kidding? There needs to be 6 day delivery for everyone. Rural America needs their service to receive items on Saturday. I work in Rural America. Whether you know it or not, eliminating the sixth day would hurt rural communities that receive their Meds, their voting ballots, their out going mail picked up. Their items that take one day longer because their line of travel would take another day. you cannot speak for them. I can, they line up at my office with package pick up, mail going overseas, register mail, pick. Concerns about knocked over boxes by disrespectful kids…. Dear are you kidding?

  4. Just the facts Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Agree, Ms. Window clerk. Issa (R-California) has a history of self-dealing and I would be shocked if he and his cronies did not have a plan to get rich by dismantling the postal service. It bears repeating that the postal service is not funded by taxpayers, but rather is funded entirely by sales of products and services. They deliver to ALL addresses for the same low price, not just the profitable ones — and, btw, provides $45 million dollars in FREE mailing services to members of Congress every year. Let’s start there when decided where to make cuts.

  5. Sharon Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I live in rural America and yes, I still believe we do not need 6 day delivery. Adjustments to our ordering/receiving habits would be required, but there is no reason why folks can’t take into consideration one less day of delivery service when ordering meds, voting ballaots, etc.

  6. Brian Jordan Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    It already takes Rural America an extra day to deliver their mail because of the distribution steps their mail has to move through to get to their home. America is 90% rural land. The reality is that rural America already gets their mail a day later.

  7. Just the facts Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/why-congressman-issa-what-big-profits

  8. Bob28+ Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I work in mail processing and I wonder if you all are aware that USPS has in fact change the service standard for mail delivery without telling the public. Yes they said they were going to do this in plants that were slated to close, but now they have implemented this plan NATION wide, another lie by USPS. My point is that your talk about 6 day delivery is academic, USPS has already decided to delay your mail wether you know, or agree with it. I personally think it is despicable, this is supposed to be a service business, they are taking the service out of it, and we have no input.

  9. Brad Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Oh brother!! we need 6 day delivery?? I am a city carrier and have been for 7 years. The decline in mail volume in the short time I have been doing this is incredible. There is not enough mail to keep us busy 6 days a week!! And for you folks that need medicine……order it a few days earlier!!!!! its not rocket science!!!

  10. Postalmule Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Has anyone asked the question of where this 5 billion dollars is? 10 billion….15 billion… My guess is again congress has miss appropriated and filled thier pockets with this money… Just saying I’d like the whole lot of them thrown in the street and let the CEOs of our major company’s handle the country, and of course they’d would do it for free, let our head of country still b elected, there’s only so much this country will b able to handle, do we wait till we r taxed at 50%..I wish it could all happen so my kids n grandchildren could live tax free…ok I’m done…lol

  11. StanMan54 Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    http://www.apwu.org/about/directory-officers.htm

    If Consolidations begin now, so should VER announcements, it is about us,even in retirement, simply look at the Mail Handlers statement on the VER negotiations, they were worried about the members, and communicated asap.
    Why does this make sense, give the benefit of the doubt to Guffey, if he fails, then the noose.
    The agreement with the Postal Service is intended to provide a financial cushion, and added peace of mind, for Mail Handlers who might be prepared to move on to the next chapter of their lives by leaving the Postal Service – a decision that could be particularly trying during these difficult economic times. In addition, with many closings and consolidations expected to be implemented at mail processing facilities in August 2012 and February 2013, the MOU also will benefit remaining Mail Handlers to the extent that some Mail Handlers choose to retire because of this incentive. More specifically, remaining Mail Handlers will experience less excessing and will benefit from more landing spots if excessed, more bidding opportunities, and other results of reduced staffing.
    So where is the communication ?
    http://www.apwu.org/about/directory-officers.htm
      .
    jdirzius@apwu.org
    Cguffey@apwu.org
    gbell@apwu.org
    communications@apwu.org

  12. StanMan54 Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    USPS lets the worst overpaid postmasters go with bonuses and 20k, Mail-handlers who drown in Overtime pay , they get 15k, biggest crafts, APWU clerks and maintenance and Carriers NALC, get no offers, if USPS and the APWU really wanted to save USPS, millions of dollars in benefits would be saved, the VER retirement is offered by USPS via OPM, union can stop incentives to some extent but not the VER,allows us to go earlier with no penalties, so why is it not being announced?

  13. StanMan54 Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Informal Discussions on Early-Outs, Incentives
    As The American Postal Worker goes to print, the APWU has engaged in several informal conversations with the Postal Service about financial incen­tives for retirements and separations, but no official offers have been made or discussed.
    We expect the Postal Service to make a formal request to negotiate over early-outs and incentives after several other outstanding issues have been addressed.
    APWU members will be notified of developments.
    If the APWU is negotiating for us, Great!, if not, let them know where you stand, this is it
    in the next two weeks, make it or break it, if the VER comes, fine, it was due, if not,
    you may not want to see the future of your career if you have some time before you can
    retire, it seems that Guffey keeps on asking for things, contractual things, great, but
    why use the VER?, the Mail Handlers did it with style, Guffey has none, if it all works out
    ,wonderful! , if Guffey and Bell and the hordes from Hell, blow it, and I would not bet
    against it, who will pay the price ?, people want to go, simply,let them go.
    The Mail Handlers see the writing on the wall, and are giving their members an out, the APWU should follow that example, bargain for whatever, but know when to stop, Listen to the members Guffey!, the end is near for many, we hope you do what is in our best interests, and for many that is to ease us into the VER and retirement, a Union fights for it’s members, the fight is over, we do not want Nifty Jobs, nor lead clerk or any other bull, let us go !

  14. John Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Stop following the red herring. The Government has already bled Social Security dry and now they are using the USPS as their piggy bank. The USPS is forced by a congressional mandate to prefund their retirement plan for 75 years in just 10 years. It costs the USPS $5.5 billion a year. The overpayment is used to subsidize the Federal Government’s retirement obligation to all of the other federal employees. The USPS has already overpaid civil service by between $55 billion and $75 billion, depending on if you watch Fox news or CNBC. There is no argument that they have overpaid Federal Employee Retirement System by $13 billion. Give them their money back and they will be delivering mail in Bentleys, or maybe we would just not be having this conversation.

  15. StanMan54 Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    USPS is going to blow any day, clerks and others talking anti- union and wildcat stirkes!
    VER or Privatize!

  16. StanMan54 Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Too bad you can’t kick the living daylights out of failures whether the President of the USA or President of a Union, Guffey failed the membership with the giveaway contract, union’s fight, they do not settle unless it is in the best interests of the membership,30 hours is Full time?, crap!,APWU and all of Guffey’s National should be ashamed, Guffey also screwed the other unions, management said point blank, “We used that (APWU) contract in our negotiations with the other Unions”, so keep on drinking Guffey and his supporters Kool-Aid, any union defenders or defenders of the current union and its officers, are wrong to defend this current APWU hierarchy, the union itself is a necessity, those running it currently , have done irreparable harm to the current and future members,so we must firmly believe that the Union is negotiating on our behalf, after the anti Union Contract that the APWU signed ( and how many sheep led to slaughter voted for it? ), there better be results in favor of the members,unless the Union shows that it is USPS that has doomed any Voluntary Early Retirement, and that VER must be like the Mail Handlers, across the board, Guffey has the benefit of the doubt for now,how many NTFT jobs does the National Union have?, did they forgo raises and colas?

  17. Jim Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    As a city carrier I want Saturdays off to spend with family and friends and in general just to have a life again. It sucks working Saturdays!! Like Brad says, order your stuff a day earlier, duh!!

  18. Allen Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Brad, if mail goes to 5 day delivery, you and about 40,000 other letter carriers nationwide will be drawing unemployment.
    So, be careful what you wish for.

  19. Randie Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Nobody has complained or died from not getting a newspaper, netflix, or meds on Sunday, have they ? This is America, we are supposedly smart, you cant make a 90 day pill plan not have the last one used on a Friday ? C’mon, man. Anyway, T-6′s will be working on Saturday delivering Express, meds, packages. Save the postal service, STOP SIX DAY DELIVERY, before we are stopped permanently !

  20. George Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    People who use the meds. thing as an excuse to continue Saturday mail are crazy.sometimes I do deliver meds on sat. but not that often , besides if we start closeing sat. you would probably start getting your meeds day earlier are you really downto your last pill on frieday

  21. Mr msp Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    What people don’t get is the real problem with this bill, everyone is saying we don’t need 6 day delivery BUT how will they feel for loosing door to door delivery? That’s right this bill also has home delivery deleated so everyone will have curb delivery or a cluster box on a street corner! And if you think that’s bad how about the thought of having to go to your local post office every time you get a parcel or letter you must sign for? Try doing that when the post office is only open Monday thru Friday 9 am to 4 or 5 pm! No way will the postal service waste time delivering a parcel to you home! People need to think long and hard about this. It’s a trick Issa is pulling on everyone.

  22. Rural carrier (non-union) Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Go ahead and tell fed ex and ups that they can expect a 10% growth to their business if this resolution gets passed!

  23. Tired of it Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Bravo Sharon, Have’nt these people ever here of , “Adapt and Overcome”

  24. Carrier Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 7:01 am

    6 day delivery is not the problem…The post office has to pay 5.5 billion a year to prefund retiree health benefits. Through several audits, the post office has already OVERPAID billions of dollars for this fund, which congress has used for various projects. If it weren’t for this, the post office would be in good shape. Post Office gets no taxpayer money, they just want their own money back. Congress has spent this money, so the Post Office doesnt need a bailout, congress does,

  25. Paywho Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Why don’t you just wait till the PO closes it’s doors in October and then you will not have to do anything to help. This should have been brought to the House floor right after the Senate passed their bill. I sent an email to Issa about the PO and his office never even acknowledged it or replied. Figures. Only if it benefits them. BTW, How many days a year do they (House) actual work. 100? Oh that might be too many sorry.

  26. Brad Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I will still have a job Allen. Do you realize the shortage of carriers there is across the country? In Fort Wayne Indiana there are offices that are 10 to 15 routes down a DAY!!! This is a nationwide problem and union officials know it too. There wont be 40000 jobs lost because we are so short. Maybe you should not listen to the union clowns so much because they are distorting the truth. Yes if we were fully staffed 40000 jobs will be lost but we are not. WE are at our full compliment of TE’s in our district and still have huge carrier vacancies.

  27. Peggy Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 10:15 am

    How is it possible a bunch of politicians are permitted to take a month long vacation when they have an urgent job that needs attention immediately? Would the Postal Service allow its top executives to take a month off with this mess looming? Not hardly. Shouldn’t our President force them to stay until a decision is made? I’m sure they would make it pretty quickly if that were the case.

  28. mj Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Soft landing comments are hot air. I am supposed to give up my good govmint job so some junior clown does not get bumped.Get a clue.I hope they get bumped to the unemployment line.

  29. Carrier26 Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Brad, think what you want, but you only have 7 yrs in. I have 26 in and if push comes to shove, I and many of us oldtimers will not step down. We will just take your job. Don’t you know about the USPS 400 mile relocation opcion? They can relocate you up to 400 mile radius. That includes clerks with more senority then you, whose jobs get taking away. Also love how you mock the union, but take the same benefits as us without paying YOU SCAB

  30. Mike Ruppert Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Brian, I am sorry but you do not know what you are talking about that Rural Delivery already get their mail a day late. That simple is nt the case. I worked for the USPS and I know this does not happen, how could it all of the mail is processed together. Their programming does not detect a Rurl Address and set it aside for later delivery.

  31. Allen Wright Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Hey, the USPS says how much they are going to be saving if door to door delivery is stopped.
    The way gasoline prices are going in 2 to 3 years, $5 per gallon, is not out of question. Who will pay for mailboxes being moved from on houses to rural type boxes on the street.
    The postal vehicles will be adding 2X the amount of current miles usage.
    I am sorry but this sounds like postal math to me. The mail is still going to have to be delivered.
    It is the USPS’s choice, pay labor cost to walk through the neighborhoods or pay higher usage dollars for gasoline to drive to each box.

  32. George Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Hey carrier 26,RETIRE!!!

  33. George Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    You old-timers take so long to run your route it’s rediculous.T.E.’s run there routes and do hand off’s from you so called old-timers.so instead of taking hard working carriers jobs take your walker and get out of the way.someone got out of your way so that you could be where you are today.your comments are completely uncalled for amd shows the attitude of old-timers toward the younger and more efficient carriers

  34. George Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Also to carrier 26.I am a member of the nalc wich is a joke . The nalc is a money making monster wich survives off the backs of hard working carriers.they’re only in it for the money many private sector firms get along fine without it.if the USPS could fire at will there wouldn’t be such a problem getting you old-timers to work!!!!many labor laws on the books to protect employees for free no middle man to be paid. Yes I’m a repubican! Proud to be!!!

  35. George Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Are you suppose to be working at 11:45 am????

  36. George Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    You do know that they’re considering forcing you to retire.30% of USPS employees are retirement eligible .

  37. Rural Letter Carrier Says:
    July 15th, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Obama’s such a jerk….he wants to create jobs, yet he’s pushing for 5-day mail delivery, which would eliminate tons of jobs for part-time (and lots of full-time) mail carriers, who don’t even get benefits with the USPS…they’re waiting for their turn to become full-time carriers, which can easily take up to 2 years….you want to eliminate jobs and save money, force workers with more than 20 years into retirement (and probably poverty)…then hire new workers at much lower pay (no longevity)…and less-generous benefits…it’s certainly done in the military services all the time…do it also in the Postal Service….but don’t eliminate 6-day delivery…that’s as un-American as you can get (Obama)….Vote Mitt Romney as the lesser of two evils.

  38. Ron Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 9:09 am

    You people are a bunch of cry babies. I live in rural America and all of my important mail is paperless. As far as your meds go, there are five days left for delivery if Sat is dropped. What do about your meds on Sunday. Plan your lives and quit crying about Saturday. Rural delivery sucks as it is. Rude carriers and they won’t even get out of their vehicle if your door is a foot away. UPS can find me in a blizzard here in Wyoming. Postal Service has too much attitude with the over paid employee.

  39. twinkster@west market Says:
    August 1st, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    To all you young bucks who think that doing away with saturday delivery is the way, I’ve carried for the last 24 years and have come to realize that we deliver a lot more than just mail. I appreciate seeing most of my customers on a daily basis. Do you not read the postal record and see how carriers impact and save lives all the time through out the whole country? The young guy talking about how fast and efficent he is with 7 years in is a joke, believe me I know because I used to be you. Now at 54 years of age and all kinds of ailments, and injuries, like extremely bad knees they are ready to throw me to the wolfs. The postal service was an outlet for all the service men and women coming back from serving their country. It used to be the “soft landing” for service men, believe me because I was one of them too. But now it seems that The rich bafoons we call politicians only have their own interests at heart. 2 questions for the young bucks who want to do away with saturday delivery, 1. who do you think will lose their job first me or you? 2. where doe’s the soldiers who are about to come home from the Repuglicans war get work?

  40. gracie4258 Says:
    August 1st, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Such drama about the need for the six day delivery. Of course carriers want it because of the all day overtime that they get, can’t get it with that five day, right? I’ve been a city carrier for 26 years and I’d like Saturday’s off and so would most of my co-workers. Funny thing is we’re supposed to care about the guys at the bottom and every Saturday I look around and they’ve either taken sick or annual leave and the old people are the ones still working.

    The true answer is to reward productivity with something besides a bigger route and more work. No private company would operate with the disincentives for being a good employee. FMLA is an epidemic in our office.

    Funny that employees that don’t belong to the unions are called scabs and accused of working off the backs of their co-workers while the unions are pocketing millions, NALC netted 30 million in one year, right out of the carriers pockets. I’m a conservative and I’m not funding your progressive agenda any longer…I’m out!

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