NALC opposes Washington state do-not-mail bill

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The national president of the National Association of Letter Carriers union told key Washington state legislators last week that passage of bills to create a "Do Not Mail" registry would be detrimental to the U.S. Postal Service, its workforce and the general public.

NALC President William H. Young, whose union represents 221,000 active city letter carriers in the nation, expressed his "fierce opposition" to legislation in letters to Washington House Commerce and Labor chairman Steve Conway and Senate Consumer Protection and Housing chairman Brian Weinstein as Mr. Conway's committee held a hearing on the legislative proposal. About 5,500 letter carriers reside in Washington state.

In the letter, Mr. Young said the proposal "could jeopardize the very future of America's postal system" adding that while it may be well-intentioned, it is being erroneously promoted as similar to "Do Not Call" limits on telemarketers.

"Unlike the annoying phone calls that were routinely timed to coincide with the dinner hour, postal patrons are free to choose when and how to deal with the mail they receive," he said.

The legislation Mr. Young was referring to is H.B. 1205, introduced by a group of Washington State democratic representatives including Marilyn Chase, Steve Conway, Mary Lou Dickerson Kenney, Kathy Haigh, Jim Moeller and Shay Schual-Berke.

Under the bill, the attorney general would establish and maintain a do-not-mail registry, which includes a list of consumers who do not wish to receive unsolicited direct mail marketing. The attorney general could contract with a private vendor to establish and maintain the registry, the bill says.

The AG would provide notice to consumers about the establishment of the list, and any consumer who wants to be included must notify him. The AG must update the registry not less than quarterly, and would make it available to direct mail marketers for a fee.

If the bill is signed into law, DMers may not mail any unsolicited marketing materials to any consumer on the registry more than thirty days after the consumer's name and address appears on the then current quarterly registry. If they do, they would be charged a fine of $2000 for each violation.

The bill was introduced on Jan. 15 and referred to the committee on commerce and labor. There is ac companion bill in the Senate, S.B. 5719 Mr. Young said letter carriers, as other citizens, have environmental concerns about the waste of natural resources, but added that most advertising mailing is printed on recycled paper and postal patrons can recycle that mail.

Drew Van Bergen, a spokesman for the Washington-based NALC, said that the organization is watching do-not mail legislation on a state-by state basis very closely.

"Elimination of a significant portion of advertising mail could be devastating," Mr. Young said. "This 'third class' mail now constitutes more than 50 percent of all mail, and its loss could mean reductions in current levels of service or, even worse, the collapse of all postal services. In sum, it would be detrimental to the postal service, its workforce and to citizens themselves to limit the mail delivered to postal patrons."

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