Magazine Publishers Urge USPS to Reduce, Delay Rate Increase

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The Magazine Publishers of America yesterday expressed extreme disappointment over the U.S. Postal Service's announcement that it would file for another rate increase.

The USPS Board of Governors on Sept. 11 authorized the immediate filing of a request for an overall rate increase of 8.7 percent. For periodicals, the increase would be 10 percent.

"Everyone except the postal service seems to agree that we need to stimulate the economy, not depress it. The potential for a third rate increase in less than two years is highly distressing," said Nina Link, president/CEO of the MPA. "The current cycle of increasing rates must end. We urge Congress and the administration to step in and break the postal service's cycle of dependency on rate increases. Constantly increasing rates as a way to deal with structural problems will only spell eventual disaster for both the postal service and its customers."

The proposed rate increase could have been prevented, the MPA said, had the USPS acted sooner and more aggressively to reduce costs and improve productivity. Earlier this year, the MPA called on the postal service to cut costs and improve operating efficiencies by implementing a systemwide hiring freeze and consolidating mail processing facilities.

"MPA supports postmaster general [Jack] Potter's initial efforts [announced Sept. 7] to streamline the postal service bureaucracy as well as his proposed announcement on consolidation of plants to be effective in January," Link said. "These are good first steps, but there is still a long way to go."

Rates for other mail classes would rise as follows: First-Class mail, 8.8 percent overall, including a 3-cent increase on the price of a First-Class stamp; Standard Mail, 7.3 percent; packages, 9 percent; Priority Mail, 13.5 percent; and Express Mail, 9.7 percent.

Details on the rate cells associated with this filing won't be ready until later this month. The full request also will be submitted to the Postal Rate Commission later this month.

The MPA, established in 1919, represents more than 240 domestic publishing companies with about 1,400 titles, more than 80 international companies and more than 100 associate service providers.

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