USPS Suspends Mail Service to Guatemala

The United States Postal Service has temporarily suspended most mail services to Guatemala. This suspension affects Priority Mail Express International® (PMEI®), Priority Mail International® (PMI®), and First-Class Mail International® (FCMI), First-Class Package International Service® (FCPIS®), International Priority Airmail® (IPA®) International Surface Air Lift® (ISAL®), and M-Bag® items. The Global Express Guaranteed® (GXG®) service is still available.

The suspension is due to a contract dispute between the Guatemalan government and the country’s postal agency, El Correo de Guatemala.

While this suspension is temporary, the USPS has not announced when a resolution might come. Allen Press will begin removing Guatemalan addresses from print production mailing lists effective immediately. For more information, please contact your Account Manager or email us at


USPS Announces Proposed Rates for 2017

A few weeks ago, the USPS filed its proposed rate changes with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Assuming the PRC accepts the proposed changes, new rates would go into effect on January 22, 2017. While the proposed rate adjustment for individual mail pieces varies, overall rate increases for first-class, periodical and standard mail classes would amount to less than 1%. The full proposal can be found at; here are some key highlights:

The proposal includes increasing the price of the First-Class Mail Forever® stamp from 47 cents to 49 cents. You may recall that the Forever stamp was previously priced at 49 cents before the PRC forced the USPS to remove the exigent surcharge.

Also proposed is a single price for First-Class Mail commercial presort letters weighing up to 3.5 oz. and a reduction in the one oz. meter price from 46.5 cents to 46 cents. The Metered Letter rate, which was first introduced in 2014 was originally intended to encourage small to medium sized businesses to convert from stamps to meters. The USPS hopes this proposed reduction will encourage these same businesses to keep invoices and statements in the postal stream.

The USPS also plans to rebrand Standard Mail as USPS Marketing Mail to better reflect the type of material present in that mail class. The most significant change for the Marketing Mail class is the elimination of Flats Sequencing System (FSS) pricing. In 2015, much to the chagrin of large publishers and mailers, the USPS instituted separate Standard and Periodicals rates for zip codes serviced by the FSS. While FSS rates were lower than non-FSS rates, they were higher than the Carrier Route rates that many publishers previously used. As a result, the USPS noted that, “Many mailers who previously paid Carrier Route rates for their FSS volume experienced an above average price increase after the new rates were introduced.” This caused a disproportionate decrease in FSS volume over other flat-shaped mail categories, which is doubly harmful to the USPS since FSS equipment runs most efficiently when processing high volumes.  Even with Standard and Periodical rate increases, abolishing the FSS rates means that large publishers and mailers who take advantage of Carrier Route rates may actually see a decline in overall postage paid. The USPS also hopes that this move might encourage more publishers to take advantage of co-mailing opportunities, which have been successful in creating efficiencies for the Postal Service as well as savings for large mailers.

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).