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Below is NALC President Fredric V. Rolando’s letter to the editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) was published on Thursday, August 11.
Post office makes a profit Congress won’t let it keep
Robin Beres’ Commentary column eloquently discussed the value of the U.S. Postal Service but incompletely depicted its financial status. Let me provide some context about an agency that doesn’t use a dime of taxpayer money and hasn’t for more than a quarter-century. Its revenue comes from selling its products and services.
USPS financial problems have little to do with delivering the mail. In the four fiscal years since 2007, despite the worst recession in 80 years, despite Internet diversion, revenues from postal operations exceeded costs by $611 million.
The problem lies elsewhere: the 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and do so within a decade — an obligation no other public agency or private firm faces. The more than $5 billion annual payments since 2007 — $21 billion total — are the difference between a positive and negative ledger. That’s the elephant in the room . . . not Saturday mail delivery, not labor costs — which have been declining for years. Postal management has consistently praised the unions for their cooperation.
Remove this onerous pre-funding and the Postal Service would have been profitable even during this economic downturn. But we’re not even asking that it be removed. What USPS management, unions and key Republican and Democratic legislators seek is to let the Postal Service stop depleting its operating funds to make these payments and instead allow an internal transfer of funds from its pension surpluses. This transfer, with zero taxpayer involvement, would leave pensions and retiree health benefits fully funded while restoring the USPS budget to financial soundness.
While waiting for Congress to act, letter carriers will continue the dedication that has led the country to name us the most-trusted federal workers six years in a row.
President, National Association of Letter Carriers