WASHINGTON, D.C. – With proposed U.S. Postal Service (USPS) office closures looming, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called for quick action to save jobs and maintain service for Ohio families and small businesses. In a letter to Senate Leadership, Brown urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to pass postal reform legislation that would restore the USPS to fiscal solvency. More than 120 post offices and ten mail processing facilities have been targeted for closure in Ohio.
“I urge the Senate leadership to make postal reform a priority for action in the upcoming Senate work period,” Brown wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “The American people support legislation that brings financial stability to the Postal Service, supports its employees, protects taxpayers, maintains a consistent level of mail service, and allows the Postal Service the freedom to expand and grow its business through innovation and smart thinking.”
Brown cosponsored the Postal Service Protection Act, which preserves Saturday mail delivery, restricts the closure of rural and urban post offices, and protects mail processing facilities to ensure maintenance of timely service. The legislation would address the most immediate financial problem facing the postal service by eliminating the unique requirement that the postal service pre-fund 75 years worth of future retiree health benefits in just 10 years. This mandate costs USPS between $5.4 and $5.8 billion per year, accounting for the Postal Service’s $20 billion in losses from 2007-2008.
Last week, the USPS announced plans to close nine Mail & Processing Distribution Centers (P&DC) in Ohio despite a moratorium aimed at preventing consolidation until Congress passes postal reform legislation, Brown called on the USPS to halt consolidation. In December 2011, the U.S. Senate and USPS agreed to a five-month moratorium on closing postal facilities, providing Congress more time to enact postal reform legislation. Under the terms, the Postal Service would use the time to study the impact of proposed closures on service and costs and to solicit community input.
One hundred and twenty post offices and ten mail processing facilities have been targeted for closure in Ohio, and Brown has sent multiple letters to Postmaster General Patrick Donohue outlining concerns with the closures, which could lead to significant job losses, delayed mail, and deteriorated service. Brown has also sent representatives to public hearings across Ohio in recent months to stand with local residents in opposition to these closures.
According to studies by the Hay Group and the Segal Company, the postal service has overpaid at least $50 billion into its pension plans. Because of these overpayments, USPS has been forced to subsidize retirement accounts for the entire Federal government. This bill would allow USPS to recover these pension overpayments to both fund its retiree health benefits and cover its operational expenses.
Specifically, the Postal Service Protection Act would:
1. Fix the immediate fiscal problem of the postal service by allowing the postal service to recover the overpayments it made to its retirement programs. Additionally, this bill would allow the postal service to recover the overpayments that it has made to its pension plans.
2. Establish new ways the Post Office can generate revenue, by ending the prohibition on USPS providing non-postal services, such as:
• Providing notary services, new media services, issuance of licenses (drivers licenses, hunting licenses, fishing licenses)
• Contracting with state and local agencies to provide services
• Shipping wine and beer
• Encouraging innovative ways to address the shift toward electronic mail and away from hard-copy mail
3. Prevent the closure of rural post offices by giving the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent closures based on the effect on the community and the effect on employees. Right now, the Postal Regulatory Commission only has the authority to review a decision to close, but it does not have any binding authority to prevent the closure, even if it finds it was flawed. The bill would also ensure more transparency in the closure process by requiring USPS to inform the communities that are being studied for closure
4. Protect six-day delivery
5. Protect mail-processing facilities by ensuring strict standards for delivering first class mail delivery on time that would make it more difficult to close area mail processing facilities.
Full text of the letter is below.
February 28, 2012
The Honorable Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader
S-221 US Capitol
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
I applaud your leadership and desire to address the financial challenges facing the United States Postal Service (USPS). Ohioans – both those who rely upon the USPS for timely delivery of mail and those who work for the USPS – are concerned about possible closures and consolidations. The Senate and the Postal Service agreed upon a closure moratorium so that Congress could address these challenges. I urge the Senate leadership to make postal reform a priority for action in the month ahead. The American people support legislation that brings financial stability to the Postal Service, supports its employees, protects taxpayers, and maintains a consistent level of mail service.
I appreciate your efforts on behalf of all Americans.
United States Senate