NALC president: Frequent postage increases avoidable

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Postage rate increases, such as the one that took effect today, can and should be avoided if Congress would rescind some of the “onerous financial shackles imposed” on the US Postal Service, according to the head of the national letter carriers union.

The price of a first-class stamp rose 2 cents today, to 44 cents, the third straight annual increase. The USPS has said the price adjustments, which are pegged to the inflation rate, are needed for rising operational costs.

"Six-day, universal mail delivery in the United States remains the best postal bargain in the world," said National Association of Letter Carriers' President William H. Young in a statement.

"Future postage rate increases could be delayed or even avoided on a regular basis” if Congress could act on several key issues, he said.

Young said Congress should pass proposed legislation, H.R. 22, to correct the payment schedule for pre-funding postal retiree health benefits.

The proposed measure would allow the USPS to pay its share of contributions for the benefits, estimated to be $2 billion this year, out of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, instead of its own pocket.

Postmaster General John E. Potter repeated his call for similar action in a May 4 letter to Rep. Stephen Lynch, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia. The bill, which has drawn 299 co-sponsors to date, was introduced in January and remains in the House subcommittee. The proposal also is backed by the American Postal Workers Union.

A subcommittee spokesman had said the panel does not have a set agenda at this time for when the proposal might be posted for discussion or vote. The subcommittee is expected to hold its next hearing on postal issues May 20, according to the spokesperson.

Young said Congress also needs to rescind a requirement that the USPS pay retiree benefits for employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System for the years they served in the military, noting the change would save the agency billions yearly.

The NALC represents 300,000 active and retired city delivery letter carriers.

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