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.

 

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.”

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.

Global Mail Delivery Delays Update: March 21, 2016

World Map_standing imageHere are the current areas of the world that may be experiencing mail delays.

Source: International Delivery Solutions

Australia:  Customs Border Force is planning a 24hr nationwide strike action on March 24th.

This strike will cause a disruption in the handling of all inbound mail, for both parcels and mail, with a possible delay after the end of the industrial action. Another possible industrial action is expected on March 29th and then more throughout school holidays.

Regarding traceable items: Australia Post has been experiencing IT difficulties over last month. As a result they have been unable to send the ‘attempted’ or ‘completed’ delivery scan events for items.

The Auspost website is able to show the status of some items and this can be accessed by going to: http://auspost.com.au . The IT issue is expected to be fixed by end of March.

Venezuela: March 21-25th, Venezuela’s businesses, government buildings and offices will shut down for an entire week in an effort to conserve energy.  Expect mail delays.

United Arab Emirates: Inclement weather caused airline disruptions March 9 and 10th.  Expect mail delays.

Morocco:  Morocco Post has confirmed that a national strike began on the February 24th. Delays to mail services are likely as a result.

Global Mail Delivery Delays Update: February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Year!World Map_standing image

Here are the current areas of the world that may be experiencing mail delays.

Source: International Delivery Solutions

Figi – Feb 21st Fiji reported widespread flooding, damaging winds and rain from Tropical Cyclone Winston, prompting the government to declare a 30-day state of natural disaster. the capital city and international airport are resuming services, remote islands sustained the most damage.

Spain, Portugal and France – Severe Weather impacted parts of Europe: Feb 13-14th causing flooding.

Canada – Canada Post Holiday – Family Day Holiday – British Columbia on was on Feb 8th/.  Rest of Canada on Feb 15th.  Also for planning purposes, Good Friday & Easter Monday: Canada Post will be closed on Friday March 25th. There will be NO delivery of mail on Easter Monday, March 28th.

February 2016 USPS Updates on Pricing Negotiations

 

Update 1

A recent DMM Advisory indicated how it plans to notify the Postal Regulatory Commission of adjusted pricing based on the current exigent surcharge revenue target. For more explanation on the surcharge and its relationship to the Consumer Price Index, see here.

Absent Congressional or Court action to make the existing exigent surcharge for Market Dominant products and services part of the rate base or to otherwise extend it, the Postal Service™ will be providing notice to the Postal Regulatory Commission of the adjusted prices that are posted on Postal Explorer® at pe.usps.com. The Postal Service intends to provide such notice of the adjusted prices to the Commission 45 days before it is anticipated that the exigent surcharge revenue target will be reached.

 

Pushback

Pushing back

Update 2

On February 12, the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) submitted reply comments to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on the Annual Compliance Report for Fiscal Year 2015 filed by the USPS on December 29. See below for comment highlights:

  1. USPS responses highlight its struggles to manage costs associated with Standard Mail Flats
  2. USPS responses reinforce concerns regarding its ability to accurately measure and comply with applicable service standards
  3. The PRC should reject price increases for Standard Mail Flats
  4. USPS responses confirm the need to better identify root causes of cost changes before taking drastic remedial action
    • USPS has not explained cost drivers
    • USPS answers highlight the need for greater use of IMb data in costing
  5. PostCom reiterates its contention in its Initial Comments that many of the cost increases shown in the FY 2015 ACR are a result of the inefficient use of Postal infrastructure

The full text of the reply comments is available here.

Winter Storm Jonas Causing Mailing And Shipping Delays

blizzardWinter Storm Jonas is wreaking havoc on the east coast of the United States today, causing delays and suspension in shipping and mailing services.

United States Postal Service

USPS service in Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington, DC will feel the effects of the wintry onslaught and customers can expect suspended retail and delivery operations.

The USPS has issued the following alerts:

  • Maryland
    All operations will be suspended at 2 p.m. in the Baltimore area. Impacted three-digit ZIP Code areas include 210-219 and 254.
  • North Carolina
    With the exception of the Rocky Mount plant, all operations have been suspended in the Greensboro area, including Greensboro P&DC, Greensboro NDC and Raleigh P&DC. Impacted three-digit ZIP Code areas include 270-277 and 286.
  • Capital District
    Collection from collection boxes will be completed today by 3 p.m. All Post Offices, stations and branches in the Washington, DC, metro area will be closing between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. This includes all plants and bulk mail acceptance units.

Service Alerts

XPO Logistics

Logistics operations and shipping carriers are also feeling the pain. The storm is predicted to deliver large amounts of ice and snow which will impact travel from Tennessee east into Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston throughout today and into the weekend.  Major interstates may become impassable for a period of time resulting in significant delays.

XPO Logistics is notifying customers that freight scheduled for pickup or delivery today or that is traveling through these areas will experience a 1-2 day delay.

The following locations are closed today:

  • Arkansas – Little Rock, Jonesboro
  • Kentucky – Paducah, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisville, Campbellsville
  • North Carolina – Asheville, Charlotte, Greenville, Hickory, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham
  • Tennessee – Humboldt, Nashville, Memphis
  • Virginia – Roanoke, Wytheville
  • West Virginia – Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg

The following locations are running partial operations today:

  • Mississippi – Tupelo
  • North Carolina – Wilson
  • Tennessee – Knoxville
  • Virginia – Norfolk

Service Level Map