NALC President Fredric Rolando had a commentary piece in Huntington, IN’s Herald-Press. It ran on April 29. The president was responding to an ideologically driven, hostile commentary the paper ran earlier. The Herald-Press is the only daily paper in Huntington County, and long was owned by James Quayle, father of the former vice president and senator Dan Quayle.
Postal Service vital
By NALC President Fredric V. Rolando
A recent commentary you published, which claimed that the U.S. Postal Service is “careening toward financial catastrophe” and mentioned the word “taxpayer” in each of the first five paragraphs, stood reality on its head.
Given the importance of the Postal Service to residents and businesses in Huntington and throughout the Hoosier State, I’d like to provide some pertinent information and facts.
The Postal Service – which is based in the Constitution, links communities large and small throughout this vast nation and delivers to 153 million homes and businesses six and even seven days a week – consistently ranks as the public’s most trusted federal agency.
It earns its own revenue by selling stamps and is not funded by taxpayers.
It is the nation’s largest employer of military veterans.
As communications change, the Postal Service is adapting – to the explosion in e-Commerce, for example. Private carriers like FedEx and UPS rely on efficient postal networks, bringing millions of their packages to the post office for last-mile delivery, saving themselves and their customers money. This partnership benefits all involved, especially the public.
Postal Service operations are profitable, and increasingly so. The Postal Service had a $1.4 billion operating profit in Fiscal Year 2014. Already, 2015’s black ink exceeds $1.4 billion. Cash on hand stands at $7 billion, highest in years.
What is driving this strong financial performance? As the economy recovers from the Great Recession, letter revenue’s rising. And as folks in Huntington and elsewhere shop online, package revenue’s skyrocketing – which makes the Internet a net positive, auguring well for the future.
The red ink stems from congressional politics, not the mail. In 2006, a lame-duck Congress mandated that the Postal Service prefund retiree health benefits. No other agency or company has to prefund for even one year; the Postal Service must prefund 75 years into the future and pay for it all in a 10-year period. That $5.6 billion annual charge is the red ink.
And yet, some in Washington want to degrade the service that residents and business owners in Huntington and across the nation have come to rely on – ending Saturday and door-to-door delivery and slowing the mail by closing dozens of mail processing facilities. Degrading postal networks and networks that have returned to profitability – as those who mislead through fear tactics and misinformation seek to do – is irrational. It ignores the source of the red ink and tries instead to convince people that the services they depend on are the problem.
Indiana is an important state with a mix of urban and rural areas and many elderly residents, veterans and small businesses relying on high-quality service.
Ending Saturday delivery would take a toll on Indiana’s residents and small businesses. They’re open weekends, employ 1,157,117 people – and would see costs rise if compelled to hire private carriers to receive checks on Saturday. Ending door delivery would force people to traipse around neighborhoods in Indiana weather seeking ‘cluster boxes.’ And slowing the mail by closing 82 processing plants around the country is illogical.
Such actions would send the Postal Service into a downward spiral by driving mail – and revenue – away. And they’d cost jobs. The national mailing industry, which depends on a robust, six-days-a-week Postal Service, employs 7.5 million Americans in the private sector – including 170,731 Hoosiers.
Indiana’s residents and small-business owners should press their representatives for a common-sense approach – preserve and strengthen the now-profitable postal networks, while addressing the pre-funding fiasco. Then the Postal Service can continue to provide Americans and their businesses with the world’s most affordable delivery network.