By Mark Brousseau
The remittance space is buzzing about the Postmaster General's recent request to Congress to lift the requirement that the postal service deliver mail six days a week. There is concern from many corners about the potential impact this move would have on the industry.
To help head-off potential public relations issues, USPS prepared the Talking Points below for its staff to use when discussing the Postmaster General's plan. These were passed along by an industry observer.
RECOMMENDED TALKING AND MESSAGE POINTS
29 JAN. 09; 2 P.M.
Postmaster General Jack Potter testified Wednesday before a Senate subcommittee on the financial health of the Postal Service. His remarks were candid and he presented options for working our way through the current economic downturn. Potter stressed that the priority would be relief from the prepayment of retiree health benefits.
... Potter’s testimony has been posted on usps.com
The Postal Service remains committed to providing the American people with quality, affordable service -- despite the current economic situation. Any decision made to help alleviate our financial situation starts with how it might affect our customers, the American people. We will continue to look at ways to cut costs and improve efficiencies within our system in order to guarantee to deliver the reliable, trusted service our customers have come to expect. In the past year the Postal Service has taken very aggressive cost-cutting actions, including the following:
... Halted construction of new postal facilities;
... Worked with National Association of Letter Carriers to permit a new interim agreement to enable quickly evaluating and adjusting letter carrier routes to reflect diminished volume;
... Frozen the salaries of all Postal Service officers and executives;
... Reducing authorized staffing levels at Postal headquarters by 15 percent;
... Reducing authorized staffing levels in the regional offices by 19 percent;
... Slashed travel and meeting budgets to take advantage of video conferencing technology; and,
... Consolidated some duplicative mail processing operations.
Health Care Relief a Priority
The Postal Service's first option is to restructure the prepayment of future retiree health care costs. We are the only government agency that is required to fully fund all projected retiree health care costs. Nonetheless, the Postal Service remains committed to meeting this obligation but a modified schedule of payments would allow the Postal Service to focus on current financial needs during this crisis. This change would neither increase the health benefit premiums paid by current or future Postal Service retirees, nor would it affect their benefits. Neither proposal would involve tax subsidies.
... Potter asked that the payment schedule for funding be adjusted.
... Modifying the schedule of payments would allow the Postal Service to focus on current financial needs during the economic crisis.
... This change would not increase the health benefit premiums paid by current or future Postal Service retirees.
... This proposal would not involve tax subsidies.
5 Day Delivery
Americans have come to trust and count on delivery six days a week. If the Postal Service is not allowed to postpone retiree health care benefits for at least the next two years, we would look at a temporary solution of limiting delivery to five days a week. This would come only during those periods of the year when mail volume is at its lowest and would be infrequent at best.
... This is a consideration only. No final decision has been made.
... We have no immediate plans to halt our current operating, processing or delivery procedures and systems.
... Our priority remains on working with Congress to change our contribution schedule for the retiree health benefit fund.
... No decisions have been made as to what day we may consider as the “non-delivery” day.
... Business will proceed as it always does. Service, delivery and, especially, work at BSNs continue as it is today.
... It is business as usual for the Postal Service.
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