Bipartisan Postal Reform Points the Way Toward a Sustainable USPS  

Picture1And now for some good news.

In a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation in the US Congress, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently passed two bills aimed at overhauling the operations and finances of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

H.R. 5714, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016, will reform retiree health care benefit funding, reform pension funding , include a Medicare part B premium transition for newly enrolling Postal Service annuitants and family members, transition to more efficient and secure mail delivery, and establish competitive, market-dominant mail rates.

H.R. 5707, the Postal Service Financial Improvement Act of 2016, would amend Title 5, United States Code, and direct the Secretary of the Treasury to invest 25% of the currently available portions of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund (RHBF) into index funds.

The bills seem to reverse provisions of the infamous 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) which legally mandated tens of billions of dollars in annual pre-payments to the RHBF against projected future obligations, which resulted in huge annual losses to the USPS, significantly reduced cash flow, and impaired the management of day-to-day operations. For more depth on the PAEA, see this MailBlogx post from 2013.

If successful in achieving the desired outcomes, H.R. 5714 and 5707 will address three big issues that have severely threatened the sustainability of the USPS in recent years: 1) lack of revenue, 2) inefficiency, and 3) the overwhelming burden of financial obligations to future retirees.

Fingers crossed.

 

Temporary Thaw in Canada Post Labor Dispute

Picture1The Toronto Globe and Mail reported this weekend that talks between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have resumed. Canada Post has withdrawn its lockout notice and cleared the way for “serious negotiations.” In return they asked the union to make on its promised to not issue a strike notice.

The situation is obviously in flux but it was certainly good news that today’s deadline for a lockout has come and gone, and the two sides are heading back to the bargaining table. As this has dragged on for seven months at this point, let’s hope some significant progress can be made soon.

Is a Canada Post Mail Stoppage Imminent?

CanadaPostHere’s the latest update on the looming labor lockout and mail stoppage in Canada (see this MailBlogx post from June 13 for the back story). According to CBC News, Canadian Union of Postal Workers “has rejected a proposal from the federal labour minister to undergo binding arbitration to avoid a potential work stoppage.”

Canada Post has extended its deadline of Friday, July 8 to Monday, July 11 to allow for another 72 hours of negotiation. But the union has declined binding arbitration and is hoping to reach a negotiated settlement. It doesn’t look promising, eh?

If there is a work stoppage – what will this mean to you as a publication printer with subscribers or readers in places like Edmonton, Ottawa, or Thunder Bay? It’s not good news. So-called “essential mail” like child tax benefits, disability benefits, Old Age Security Pension, Canada Pension Plan benefits and benefits for veterans will continue to mail. But your publication? No, unfortunately not. And, if your journal or magazine has already entered the Canada Post mail stream and hasn’t been delivered yet, it will sit in a warehouse until this whole mess is resolved. It’s not as entertaining as the Stanley Cup hockey finals but it’s certainly got all the drama.

We’ll keep you “posted.”

Canada Post Lockout a Possibility as Deadline Looms

Picture1According to several sources in both the Canadian news services and the international delivery industry, signs are pointing toward a possible Canada Post Lockout of workers this summer. Collective agreements with the union representing postal workers have expired and things are not looking promising. Talks have been underway since late 2015 but the sides are still far apart and little headway has been made. The union has accused management of trying to provoke a labor dispute and making unreasonable demands while a counter argument is being made about the realities of a changing business environment and the evolution of customer needs. Meanwhile, Canada Post has told some of its biggest customers, including the federal government, “to make contingency plans ahead of a possible contract dispute.” If agreement isn’t reached in June, a lock out of union members could start on July 2.

What this all means for domestic and international mail delivery and how long the potential disruption would last, is anybody’s guess. We’ll keep you updated as news breaks.

Sources: CBC News, Toronto Star, International Delivery Solutions

Global Mail Delivery Delays Update: April 29, 2016

Here are the current areas of the woWorld Map_standing imagerld that may be experiencing mail delays.

Source: International Delivery Solutions

Kenya: April 28th, pilot strike, airports were shut down.

France:  General nationwide strike, April 28th.

Venezuela: Venezuela announced that public sector employees will now only work two days of the week in a bid to conserve energy amid the ongoing electricity crisis. Civil servants will only work on Mondays and Tuesdays until the crisis is over, with only “fundamental and necessary tasks” being performed on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  What this means for mail delivery we are not sure.

Australia:  April 26th, Perth, the rail line affected by a train derailment in Western Australia is operational again.

Germany: A strike by the German union pilots prompted Lufthansa to cancel flights on April 26-27th, causes mail and parcel delays.

Chile:  April 25th, Postal Operations in Chile Back to Normal: Correos Chile informs that the serious flooding in the Santiago Metropolitan Region is over, and postal operations are back to normal.

India:  April 25th, floods in Northeastern India and Strike in Pudukkottai: Heavy rain in northeastern areas of India, expect mail delays.

Scotland: Postal Workers in Scotland Voted to Strike: On April 19th, postal workers have voted to strike across a large part of Scotland. The result of the ballot means deliveries may be affected across the EH (Edinburgh and Lothians),TD (Borders), FK (Stirling and central areas) and KY (Glenrothes and Fife) postcodes. The union has 28 days to set a strike date and must give Royal Mail seven days’ notice.

Japan:  Due to the earthquake on April 15th, items for delivery to Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures will be delayed due to the effects of the earthquake that occurred in Kumamoto Prefecture on 14/15 April. Postcodes of the affected areas are 860xxxx – 869xxxx (Kumamoto Prefecture), 880xxxx – 889xxxx (Miyazaki Prefecture) and 890xxxx – 899xxxx (Kagoshima Prefecture).

Mandated USPS Pricing Rollback Effective April 10

Caution: Falling Price Zone! It’s hard to imagine but it looks like we are about to see a once in a lifetime event this month, as the USPS will be forced to lower its prices. Falling Rock Zone SignAccording to a DDM Advisory released today:

Absent Congressional or Court action to make the existing exigent surcharge for Market Dominant products and services part of the rate base, the Postal Service™ will be required to reduce prices for Forever stamps and other mailing products, effective Sunday, April 10.

See the chart below for details:

Product New Price Old Price
1-ounce First-Class Mail letter $0.47 $0.49
Letters with additional ounces $0.21 $0.22
Letters to international destinations $1.15 $1.20
Postcards $0.34 $0.35

We can also expect to see a decrease in commercial prices. The advisory goes on say to that “price reductions are required because the Postal Regulatory Commission has ordered USPS to reverse a 4.3 percent exigent surcharge that has been in place since January 2014.”

 

Shipping and Mailing Delays Follow Brussels Attack

World Map_standing imageSource: International Delivery Solutions

Due to the terrorist attacks in Brussels at an airport and metro station earlier today, companies shipping to or from Brussels should expect heavy disruptions today and in the near future. All air travel is either being completely suspended or rerouted to other airports, making it more difficult for timely mail delivery services in the area.

According to Tradewind News, in light of these attacks, Belgium ports have also intensified their control, though officials stated that maritime trade and shipping should remain relatively unaffected in the near future. Companies relying on maritime shipping should remain alert to any changes in the near future as security measures grow across the country.