A UPS spokesman said Friday that UPS and the U.S. Postal Service had reached a compromise on the single-piece parcel post issue that is holding up passage of postal reform legislation, but claimed that the office of the key senator who is a champion of the cause rejected it.
And late Friday, the spokesman said that UPS would not oppose the postal reform bill as it stood.
The news comes after an 11th hour announcement from the Direct Marketing Association that asked members to write to the Atlanta-based company to persuade them to stop blocking passage of the bill.
“We are not trying to mess this up,” said David Bolger, a UPS spokesman based in Washington. “For over three years, we acted in good faith with both the House and the Senate on comprehensive postal reform. We were very clear about what we were advocating and what our areas of concern were.”
Members of the mailing community were hard at work last week to ensure that postal reform legislation is passed before Congress was to adjourn Oct. 1.
In a message sent to DMA members Friday afternoon, DMA president/CEO John A. Greco said a debate over single-piece parcel post rates threatened to undermine the postal reform effort.
“Despite efforts to forge a compromise, [UPS] continues to block a final agreement by holding out for a provision in the bill that could result in an increase of up to 40 percent in single-piece Parcel Post rates,” the 11th-hour message said.
The DMA supports a “hard cap” that would keep postal rate increases at or below the rate of inflation. This would help marketers by keeping mailing rates affordable for reaching out to current and potential customers.
As a result, the DMA said “we need your help to let UPS know that not only could higher shipping rates turn consumers away from shopping by mail, but failure to pass postal reform means that all mailers will face significantly higher costs that could ultimately result in drastic reductions in mail volume, and further revenue losses for private parcel shippers, the Postal Service, and the many businesses that rely on both.”
The message then asked members to contact UPS immediately.
But Mr. Bolger said that on Sept. 27, UPS was notified by Sen. Susan Collins’ office that there was new language in the bill regarding a single-piece parcel post provision. Sen. Collins, R-ME, chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and introduced the Senate’s postal reform bill, S. 662, which passed in February.
Mr. Bolger said UPS was sent a copy of the new provision Sept. 28, and while reviewing it, “we received a call from the White House to come down and meet with the White House, the Office of Management and Budget, Sen. Collins office and the postal service. They were saying, ‘Let’s work out a deal here. Let’s get the parties in the room and try to hash this out.'”
After about six hours, “we worked out an agreement with the postal service on the issue,” he said. “We reached an agreement that was palatable to UPS and the postal service. UPS and the postal service were walking in lockstep.”
However, Mr. Bolger said that when the compromise was presented to Sen. Collins’ office, “they did not consider it or accept it.”
Calls to Sen. Collins’ office Friday afternoon were not returned as of press time.
“We were flabbergasted,” Mr. Bolger said. “We are working in good faith, working to move this bill forward.”
Congress likely will return for a lame duck session beginning Nov. 13, so passage of postal reform could occur at that time as well.