Congressman, Teamster Head Question FedEx-USPS Alliance

Henry Hyde, R-IL, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, this week expressed concern over the recently announced tentative agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and Federal Express.

In a letter to assistant U.S. attorney general Joel Klein, who yesterday announced his resignation, Hyde said “The negotiation, raises a variety of antitrust concerns.”

If the USPS were a private entity, any final alliance would require scrutiny by the antitrust division, Hyde said. But he said it is by no means clear that the USPS could enjoy antitrust immunity as an instrumentality of the federal government, and “any final alliance may try to use the postal service's potential immunity as a shield against antitrust scrutiny.”

Aside from antitrust concerns, Hyde said that any such alliance should protect the rights of workers from competing companies, such as the United Parcel Service, as well as USPS and FedEx workers.

In the letter, Hyde said he is also becoming increasingly concerned about the USPS' antitrust status. For example, he said he has heard competitive concerns raised about the agency's activities with respect to commercial mail-receiving agencies.

“As we go forward, I believe that we must reexamine the continued viability of the postal service's potential antitrust immunity if it is to compete against private business.”

In addition, James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters, wrote a letter to President Clinton yesterday that raised similar concerns. Hoffa urged Clinton to have the “Department of Justice review this matter before the USPS Board of Governors considers the proposal.”

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