Darrell Issa: Okay, new plan for fixing the Post Office

posted at 4:41 pm on June 14, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Back in 2011, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa introduced a bill to seriously reform the ailing United States Postal Service — a move to which postal-worker unions and their Democratic allies in both the House and Senate were most vociferously unreceptive, and they effort ended up going nowhere. That was a darn shame, because the USPS’s obsolete business model is currently bleeding about $25 million a day, and while opponents of reform have always been quick to point out that the mail delivery service doesn’t operate off of taxpayer dollars, they have been steadily defaulting on repayments to their exhausted line of credit at the U.S. Treasury while exploding pension costs and mounting debt could eventually incur a bailout.

The relevant Democrats have shut down more subsequent attempts to do at least some cost-cutting with measures like closing hundreds of post offices and ending Saturday mail delivery, never mind that some of these are reforms that the Postal Service itself actually wants, but Rep. Issa is trying again with a more relaxed bill that makes a few more concessions in their direction. The Hill explains:

Issa’s new draft discussion updates his 2011 postal reform legislation, and comes as lawmakers from both parties and both chambers meet to try to solidify the Postal Service’s finances. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has urged Congress to act for years, with the agency having lost some $19 billion in the last year-and-a-half.

In an attempt to broaden support for his postal efforts, Issa scraps or reworks some of the more controversial provisions in his previous bill, which passed the Oversight panel but was slammed as too partisan by Democrats. …

The new Issa plan also dramatically reworks a provision — firmly opposed by Democrats and postal brass — that would have essentially placed the service into receivership if it defaulted on its bills for more than a month.

Under the new plan, a team of five executives would replace the Postal Service’s part-time board until the USPS is back in the black and has a plan to fully support its current and future retirees.

Issa would also allow the USPS to immediately scrap six-day letter delivery, while keeping Saturday delivery of packages for at least five years. Donahoe had tried to put a similar plan in place this year, only to pull back after taking heat from Capitol Hill.

There’s still plenty in the bill to which unions/Democrats are bound to vehemently object (one “anti-labor” provision, for instance, that would do away the USPS’s no-layoffs policy is almost certainly not going to go over well, as you might imagine), but Issa’s bill does contain several major compromises and is at least reopening the conversation instead of letting it languish in the current stalemate. The USPS cannot and will not survive in its current form, and Republicans are looking to actually get some things done; will the unions budge?


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My mail carrier is always in a crap mood!

LeftCoastRight on June 14, 2013 at 4:44 PM

(W)ill the unions budge?

I’ve got a two-letter answer to that, and the second one is “o”.

Steve Eggleston on June 14, 2013 at 4:45 PM

… that would do away the USPS’s no-layoffs policy …

Hello – this is Reality calling all Democrats….. Anyone home??

No layoff policy? Hmmm… I wonder why they are losing $25 million s day…. let me think hard on this one…..

Free Indeed on June 14, 2013 at 4:51 PM

VPN still working…

DarkCurrent on June 14, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Create an open carrier system with the requirement to cross-carry by all handlers.

Get the government out of trying to provide this service and let the private sector take it over and figure out the pricing and best way to deliver mail and packages, both. My bet is that with an open carrier system we would get some market price differences, better service, and not have to pay a dime out of the federal budget for it.

Sort of like how Ben Franklin was doing back in the day, working to get a mail system coordinated by different carriers. Yes it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure this service gets done. Nothing says the government has to do it, though.

ajacksonian on June 14, 2013 at 4:56 PM

No discounts for junk mail. Fixed.

Ronnie on June 14, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Is it any wonder the Post Office is struggling, considering what we just learned – that every single piece of mail is photographed front and back for the NSA? Come on, people.

ldenton1 on June 14, 2013 at 4:58 PM

The USPS cannot and will not survive in its current form, and Republicans are looking to actually get some things done; will the unions budge?

Unions budge? Not bloody likely.

Detroit is one step closer to declaring bankruptcy today and the unions are still digging in their heels and making demands as if they are not hemmoraging money for a population that is now only 700K with 10K employees and 20K retirees. Last I knew the Mayor was trying to get concessions from something like 84 different bargaining units.

For the life of me I don’t see a solution so long as the USPS union is involved. They’d rather see the whole system go down than to make concessions. And, for starters, I don’t see why we need Saturday delivery. For that matter put the whole system on three-days a week delivery and you could probably fill the requirements of the vast majority of Americans.

Happy Nomad on June 14, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Privatize it.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:03 PM

If Issa fixes the problem, I’ll e-mail and text the news to everybody I know.

On a serious note, a rural delivery guy informed me that there are a pile of unions involved in the USPS. Teamsters, rural carriers, city carriers, clerks, management and I think one more. All separate in who they represent but does explain why we can’t put the overweight dinosaur on a diet.

teejk on June 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Hello – this is Reality calling all Democrats….. Anyone home??

No layoff policy? Hmmm… I wonder why they are losing $25 million s day…. let me think hard on this one…..

I knew a postal carrier. Could cover her route in 3-1/2 hours. Her route officially, by union rules, was supposed to take 5 hours. She could never pace her self to move that slow, so she spent the extra time playing pool with a close friend who lived on her route. Even if she came back to the post office early, she wasn’t allowed to assist anyone else in the time she saved doing her route which would violate union rules. She just had to sit in the employee lunch room watch TV or read until it was time to punch out for the day.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

I like Nomad’s idea of three days a week delivery. Email has pretty much removed need to write a letter except for businesses, and if something is urgent there is always FedEx. Think of all that fuel and greenhouse gases to be saved! The vehicles will last longer as well, saving money on repairs and need for replacements.

And, especially — let the layoffs begin!

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:13 PM

like Nomad’s idea of three days a week delivery.

I’m for it, as long the the postal workers are only paid for working three days.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM

I’m for it, as long the the postal workers are only paid for working three days.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM

That’s a given. If they want more work, they can always go to their union hall and shape for what’s available.

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:16 PM

The relevant Democrats have shut down more subsequent attempts to do at least some cost-cutting with measures like closing hundreds of post offices and ending Saturday mail delivery

Our post office was shut down to only mornings 6 days a week.

cptacek on June 14, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Our post office was shut down to only mornings 6 days a week.

cptacek on June 14, 2013 at 5:18 PM

But did the workers go home, or did they get their full eight hour day? If they did, the only ones paying are the customers and no money was saved.

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:23 PM

You want to fix the Post Office?

Get rid of the damned union and hire, raise salaries and promote based on merit. And shut any office that can’t stay in the black.

ROCnPhilly on June 14, 2013 at 5:24 PM

I’m for it, as long the the postal workers are only paid for working three days.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM

That’s a given. If they want more work, they can always go to their union hall and shape for what’s available.

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:16 PM

I just want to be certain. It’d be so unionlike to demand pay for three days the same salary as for a full week.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:26 PM

You want to fix the Post Office?

Get rid of the damned union and hire, raise salaries and promote based on merit. And shut any office that can’t stay in the black.

+1000. The remedy for all government and quasi-government organizations.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:27 PM

But did the workers go home, or did they get their full eight hour day? If they did, the only ones paying are the customers and no money was saved.

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:23 PM

I think she goes home. There is only one worker there.

I wished they had gone a different route and put the post office boxes and packages at the gas station in town. At least then you could get your mail/packages after work. As it is now, all packages that don’t fit into your 4″x5″ box you have to get across the counter. We have to send my husband’s Grandma over to get our stuff because we can never get there.

cptacek on June 14, 2013 at 5:29 PM

I knew a postal carrier. Could cover her route in 3-1/2 hours. Her route officially, by union rules, was supposed to take 5 hours. She could never pace her self to move that slow, so she spent the extra time playing pool with a close friend who lived on her route. Even if she came back to the post office early, she wasn’t allowed to assist anyone else in the time she saved doing her route which would violate union rules. She just had to sit in the employee lunch room watch TV or read until it was time to punch out for the day.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Around here, the postal workers burn time hanging out behind a local Wah Wah (convenience store). Have seen as many as six trucks at a time. Smoking, drinking coffee and sleeping.

ROCnPhilly on June 14, 2013 at 5:30 PM

I just want to be certain. It’d be so unionlike to demand pay for three days the same salary as for a full week.

hawkeye54 on June 14, 2013 at 5:26 PM

I’m big on breaking the backs of the public service unions, especially the teacher unions. Most of the private sector unions are dinosaurs now and no longer needed for all the workers’ rights laws enacted since unionism got clout in the 1930s.

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Related – Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr wants Detroit’s creditors, including pensioners, to take a 90% haircut to avoid a bankruptcy filing.

Any bets on who screams loudest on that plan?

Steve Eggleston on June 14, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Related – Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr wants Detroit’s creditors, including pensioners, to take a 90% haircut to avoid a bankruptcy filing.

Any bets on who screams loudest on that plan?

Steve Eggleston on June 14, 2013 at 5:31 PM

A 90% ‘haircut’? That sounds more like a beheading. LOL

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Look at your mail every day & imagine which pieces:
(a) you wouldn’t miss at all if you had never received them or
(b) the sender could conceivably send electronically.

Then, with what’s left, think about:
(c) whether it would have been acceptable to receive it a day, 3 days, or a week later.

Then, for anything that’s so important and/or urgent that you have to receive it in paper form on that day, think about:
(d) whether it could have been sent via FedEx, UPS, or DHL, etc.

I’ll wager (a) & (b) would cut your delivery volume by 90% and (c) & (d) would allow USPS deliveries to take place every other day, or even weekly.

You’re welcome, Mr. Postmaster General.

KS Rex on June 14, 2013 at 5:37 PM

KS Rex on June 14, 2013 at 5:37 PM

A lot of companies offer paperless billing, sending by email or text to a customer’s phone.

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:41 PM

I have an idea for an alternative plan:

Find the most “unprofitable” areas where the postal service operates. Put out for bids a contract for private mail services in those areas. Maybe even begin with just one area for starters. If that works out and a savings is seen with adequate levels of service, slowly begin to expand into other areas.

I would suspect someone like UPS or FedEx would want those projects at first, maybe subcontracting out rural delivery services to a local company or individuals.

crosspatch on June 14, 2013 at 5:43 PM

End the requirement to pre-fund health benefits for future employees for 50 years (?!). I’m not sure, but I don’t think that’s a routine business practice in the private sector.

cheeflo on June 14, 2013 at 5:43 PM

A 90% ‘haircut’? That sounds more like a beheading. LOL

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Which is what Detroit, and the USPS, need.

Steve Eggleston on June 14, 2013 at 5:44 PM

KS Rex on June 14, 2013 at 5:37 PM

yep, all that explains why as kids our mailman drove his own car, parked at the end of the street and walked the blocks. He might move the car every couple of blocks but the post office didn’t have to have two seperate parking lots for employee and work vehicles and stupid right drive single purpose dork mobiles.

There are so many ways to cut costs at the post office.

DanMan on June 14, 2013 at 5:49 PM

As the philosopher Kosh once said, “They are a dying race. We should let them pass.”

LincolntheHun on June 14, 2013 at 6:00 PM

End the requirement to pre-fund health benefits for future employees for 50 years (?!). I’m not sure, but I don’t think that’s a routine business practice in the private sector.

cheeflo on June 14, 2013 at 5:43 PM

It’s not done by any other branch of the fed or in any private sector company. The congress decided to make that demand when the USPS was operating in the black. It was nothing more than a naked money grab to shore up their budgets. That money isn’t going into a “lock box”, it’s already been spent and replaced with promises.

Wendya on June 14, 2013 at 6:03 PM

A lot of companies offer paperless billing, sending by email or text to a customer’s phone.

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:41 PM

And if the customers don’t do an electronic payment which costs the company money, they send checks back through the USPS.

Wendya on June 14, 2013 at 6:05 PM

My local Post Office: Six service stations for customers. Sometimes 3 people working. Most times the wait in terrible. Looks like an affirmative action crew. They could raise money by putting in a Starbucks so you get get coffee and a muffin while you wait.
Easier and quicker to go to the next town over where there are three people actually working and responding.
My dad retired from the Post Office and used to get furious with me when I would UPS packages to him 40 miles away. He kept telling me I was messing with his pension. I kept telling him I only wanted my packages to arrive in a timely manner.

Art on June 14, 2013 at 6:09 PM

End the requirement to pre-fund health benefits for future employees for 50 years (?!). I’m not sure, but I don’t think that’s a routine business practice in the private sector.

cheeflo on June 14, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Private retirement accounts are expected to be funded to at least 85% of current obligations under Sarbanes-Oxsley. The City of Houston would be under scrutiny by the feds. The state of Illinois would be declared bankrupt with assetts sold to fund the retirment plans.

The pre-funding scheme they have also relies on the same tricks municipalities use, ie: 8.5% to 12% growth on funds that are never fully allocated.

DanMan on June 14, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Perhaps Michelle could convince hubby that the USPS needs to go on a fitness kick and bring back the 3-wheeled cycles that had the bag between the two front wheels.
That would considerably reduce the USPS’ carbon foot-print.

Another Drew on June 14, 2013 at 6:29 PM

The USPS cannot and will not survive in its current form, and Republicans are looking to actually get some things done; will the unions budge?

Uh, no.

Tenwheeler on June 14, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Email has pretty much removed need to write a letter except for businesses

Don’t trust email anymore. I’m going with snail mail. At least no one will be opening it up and reading it…..at least not yet.

, and if something is urgent there is always FedEx.

They delivered my package to the wrong house and the guy brought it to me……after he’d took it out of the box….didn’t speak English well…..I’m guessing he didn’t know what it was or had no use for it (furnace filter). When I read the reviews of FedEx, found out this isn’t unusual for them to deliver to the wrong address over and overdespite being told over and over this is what they were doing. I like UPS much, much better….quicker and never delivered to the wrong address.

“three days’ delivery”..

Think of all that fuel and greenhouse gases to be saved! The vehicles will last longer as well, saving money on repairs and need for replacements.

Liam on June 14, 2013 at 5:13 PM

This I could agree with.

avagreen on June 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

The sign in the pic says “USPS receives NO tax dollars”
Where does the $ for salary and pensions etc come from?
Privatize it.

Mimzey on June 14, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Don’t mess with the PO. They’ll Go Postal!

philw1776 on June 14, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Don’t trust email anymore. I’m going with snail mail. At least no one will be opening it up and reading it…..at least not yet.

avagreen on June 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Want to bet? When they go to 3 days-a-week delivery, they’ll have plenty of time to read your mail.

Steve Eggleston on June 14, 2013 at 9:08 PM

Issa’s new draft discussion updates his 2011 postal reform legislation

Is Issa the only damn guy that works in the House? WTF is he doing screwing around with the Post Office, for cripes sakes.

They’re flooding the zone with scandals. This guy needs to FOCUS. Ignore all of the noise. Stay on Benghazi.

Unless, of course, Beck is right, everyone’s comms have been tapped, everyone’s been turned bought or coerced, and there’s no hope left for this once great republic. Next up: Darryl Issa investigates whether Kanye cheated on the pregnant Kim.

bofh on June 14, 2013 at 9:10 PM

As long as Union THUG Bosses have anything to do with operations, there will continue to be losses. They will not agree to any cuts because they would rather the PO lose money and they do not care wha you pay for service and postae as long as they do not lose any dues money the goes all to Liberal Democrats.

j bo on June 14, 2013 at 9:37 PM

will the unions budge?

Let me eat a twinkie while I think about it….

:)

Theophile on June 14, 2013 at 11:17 PM

Keep Saturday delivery, but each carrier will have two routes; Mon-Wed-Fri = route 1, and Tue-Thurs-Sat – route 2. This allows the post office to cut the number of carriers and delivery vehicles in half. Saves a whole lot more than any other plan out there.

Dasher on June 15, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Dasher at 9:54AM … you’re on to something.

And from earlier I support NO more Junk mail.
Everything goes 1st Class except for the 3rd Cls Book Rate.
Force the advertisers to ‘bundle’ … I’m not against advertising but typically Tuesday’s I get a mailbox FULL of little ad flyers that must consipate the P.O. system and must make handling and delivery a royal PITA.

It is time for the USPS to face the competition. Perform or die.
It works in nature.
Reagan on Government behaviour: If it moves tax it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.

It is LONG past the time, subsidizing the USPS must end.

Missilengr on June 15, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Economically speaking, there is no real need to keep the USPS going in areas already served by competent businesses like FedEx, UPS, DHL etc.

The remaining need is just for rural areas with no internet or parcel service.

Having congress worry about Saturday delivery by a so-called postal business is soviet comedy. Apparently the USPS cannot work this out themselves, no matter how much money they get.

If ever there is a Republican whitehouse, moving all the liberal lunatics from the EPA, FBI, ATF, DEA, DOJ, IRS, FDA, Defense and Education to the USPS would at least consolidate the continuing mental health problem we seem to have.

virgo on June 15, 2013 at 1:10 PM