Mailers Back Lawmaker's Call for Delaying Postal Rate Increases

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Postal watchers are looking to Rep. Danny Davis, D-IL, to take the lead in reform efforts with his call for a moratorium on rate increases.

Davis, a member of the House Committee on Government Reform, submitted a resolution urging the U.S. Postal Service to put off any more requests for rate increases until after January. The resolution also urged the USPS to recognize that fixing its fundamental problems cannot be accomplished by reducing six-day delivery, diminishing collective-bargaining rights for postal workers or raising rates.

Davis urged USPS management and the Board of Governors to increase their efforts to improve productivity and eliminate mismanagement.

"We're going to support it wholeheartedly," Neal Denton, executive director at the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, said of the resolution. "It deserves the support of the entire postal community."

The resolution gives Congress time to institute postal reform before the next rate increase, said Bob Davis, a former congressman representing the Magazine Publishers of America. It also sends a strong message to the Board of Governors, which meets again June 5.

" I think it will spark some discussion," he said. "As support continues to come to the surface against raising rates, it puts more pressure on the Board of Governors."

Mailers are less enchanted with the USPS' postal reform plan, which it submitted to Congress this week. In the plan, the postal service calls for the maintenance of universal delivery at affordable prices by updating pricing regulations. For types of mail for which it is required to provide universal delivery, it should have a simple pricing system that provides incentives for the postal service to perform efficiently, the USPS said. For other types of mail and services, it should be free to adjust prices and introduce new products, the agency said.

The plan also calls for changing from the public-sector model of collective bargaining, which features binding arbitration, to a model more like those found in the private sector. But union leaders have told Congress they will not support a plan that eliminates binding arbitration in exchange for the right to strike.

Denton called the reform plan "watered down" and said it sets goals that are politically unfeasible.

"It's unrealistic and it's not timely," he said. "There's very little meat on the bones."

Postal oversight committees in both the House and Senate held hearings this week on the USPS. There are no more congressional hearings scheduled.


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