Post office makes a profit Congress won’t let it keep

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
Editor, Times-Dispatch:

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.

Fredric Rolando,
President, National Association of Letter Carriers

25 Responses to "Post office makes a profit Congress won’t let it keep"

  1. Rob   August 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    We should not be funding any retirement for letter carriers. They should have the same benefits as the rest of us – Social Security and whatever they choose to contribute to their own retirement. We can no longer afford to provide for retirement of employees, public or private. People need to take the contributions out of their wages and make their own plans – IRA, etc work. Then this would not be an issue. Same with medical insurance, the employee should own their policy and get whatever works for them. The employer should not have anything to do with that and the employee should pay all the premiums. Everyone on equal footing, no cost to government, no cost to employers. When we all compete evenly the costs come down due to competition and the service gets better! Also UPS and FedEx should be allowed to deliver 1st class mail/letters in competition with USPS to further reduce costs and allow competition.

  2. marie   August 12, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Oh, yeah, that’ll work. What color is the sky in your world?

  3. STORJAW   August 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Sounds like a great place to work ! Lets apply .

  4. sara   August 13, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Rob are you a fed ex employee by any chance? Look it’s very simple Thousands of postal workers deliver the mail in wind, sleet, snow, rain. They do their best to get it to the customers. They face dog bites, bee stings, hot sun. And yet they go to work every day because they enjoy the customers. The carriers are not the most highly paid within this industry. You want us to bend over and let them allow UPS and Fed ex to take our jobs. i think not.
    It takes seven years plus a couple more for a rural carrier sub to make regular. All that time we go without any benefits. No insurance. No 401k. We do it because we all were told that we would be regulars after that time. Where else can you work that you don’t get benefits for 7 years? Wake up Rob it isn’t the little guys rocking this boat. It’s the big ones.

  5. Matt   August 13, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Dog bites and bee stings? Are you kidding me? Oh, almost forgot…the hot sun. I guess those are all good reasons to disallow free markets and competition.

  6. bobby ashley   August 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    fedex and ups can deliver all the first class mail they want and they do. they charge a lot more for it though. we do not let them use our mail boxes because it would diminish the integrity of the mail. that seems reasonible they do not let us use their airplanes or trucks.

  7. Carl   September 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    FEDEX and UPS DON’T WANT First Class business. They don’t want to deliver to every address. They want YOU to pay them what they charge, to deliver where you pay them to. Did you know that some of their packages come through USPS and they handle the “last mile” delivery?

    There is a reason USPS has a “monopoly” on first class mail. Mail is a government provided service. If it were privately run, there would be no penalty for anyone intercepting, stealing or holding your mail hostage, as it would no longer be a federal offense…. You would probably have to pay a monthly subscriber fee to have mail delivery at your address, or go pick it up (after waiting in line) at a facility somewhere.

    Try giving FEDEX or UPS 44 cents. or even a dollar, and ask them to take a letter from New York to Texas…they would look at you as if you were on drugs!

  8. D Ray Spencer   September 6, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Well said Carl. What I have found is that people that spew venom like I have observed concerning USPS, teachers, government workers (State and Federal) are usually on Social Security Disability and other social programs that WE pay for.

    One poster said “We can no longer afford to provide for retirement of employees, public or private.”

    WE provide nothing to the retirement of the USPS employees!!!

    “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.”

    What other non-private entity can make this claim. One of the few divisions of it’s size and scope in the entire world that supports itself solely on revenue from selling its products and services only. Not even banks or Wall St. does that. The USPS does not get your money and sell it back to you, it sells you service and does it’s best to provide that service above and beyond the prices that it charges. The USPS is not in trouble, but is being maligned for the sake of saving face for those that made that fatuous decision in 2006, the congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits. Who ever wants to admit when they are wrong? Keep doing what you are doing USPS, you’re doing just fine. You’re just being bullied and scapegoated by those we are truly making wealthy with our tax dollars.

  9. Diana   September 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    My husband has worked for the USPS for almost 30 years in the position of letter carrier, electronic technicians, and 204B (substitute supervisor) and from what I have learned is that much money is wasted on the misallocation of employees and unproductive employees. Example Is it really necessary to have a Plant manager to over see several managers and each manager overseeing 2 supervisors who oversee 10 employees. Why not have each manager oversee several supervisors. In addition, in the some of the USPS divisions there exist employees who spent there 8 hours sleeping or hiding to avoid work, why not fire them? Management is afraid of hurting the lazy employees feelings, which can lead to EOE complaints. The practice has been if a supervisor is not doing his job well then they transfer and promote the supervisor. Where is the logic? I have heard of instances where an employees have done something really wrong. The supervisor’s response has been to wait until employee in question is absent, at which time the supervisor calls a meeting of all the present employees and gives them a lecture as if they were all guilty of the wrong doing. The resources (employees) efficient use could save the USPS large sums, improve moral, and improve service. Although, since the post office is mandated by congress to be non-proft, maybe that is why there is no incentive to manage resources and save money. Just some thoughts.

  10. Bruce Cerrone   December 6, 2011 at 11:11 am

    My Uncle was a Armed Forces retiree of 3 Wars and became a Postal Worker retiree, which a big plus for War Veterans have hiring preference…As my Uncle stated, no other country has such a low cost postal delivery and to assure no matter were a person lives [an outpost in Alaska] will be delivered at the cost of a stamp that may cost the Post Office $100+ to deliver…

  11. Wendy   March 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    The point is that the postal service would be in the black but for that onerous legislation. The issue is the lies about why the postal service is in the financial sink hole that it is in. Privatization is exactly what the big corporate powers had in mind and unfortunately the uninformed public iis buying it. Come on… Pay for healthcare 75 years in advance???? Who else in the free world has to do that?

  12. Den   March 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Has anyone seen the 680 billion borrowed over the years
    from the postal service , that is never talked about, let alone
    payed back. Any comment? (crickets)

  13. Den   March 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    “Paid” forgive me?

  14. Richie   February 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Private competition worked, delivering mail for a cheaper price, until the feds shut them down for illegally competing with the government monopoly. See:

  15. Daniel   February 26, 2013 at 10:19 am

    RIchie, are you aware that UPS and other private couriers subcontract to the post office when they receive parcels to some rural areas?

    In 2006, the post office was forced by congress to begin prepaying 75 years of health care benefits to its employees. Not only existing employees, but in anticipation of future hires as well. Not only this, but it must assume that the health care costs will increase by 7% a year, which is really more like 5%.

    They have a 75-$100 Billion dollars overpaid to these insane plans that they are not allowed to touch. Without being forced to prepay 7 years worth of health care benefits EVERY year for the next 10 years (since 2006), they would be turning a profit.

    The post office is the only business, private or public sector, that is subject to these constraints. Certain special interests would like to use this as an opportunity to break the post office’s labor unions, but without being forced to prepay 75 years worth of retirement benefits in only 10 years, there simply is no crisis.

  16. Rick   March 1, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I sell on eBay and spent almost $5000.00 last year at the post office. Makes up for a lot of stamps that are lost to emailing, the latest excuse. Millions of items are sold daily on the internet and a huge portion of them (like mine) are shipped via USPS. So yes, you lost lots of stamp income, but this more than makes up for that. It is, and always has been, a very inefficient, poorly managed organization.

  17. Monty   December 6, 2013 at 11:38 am

    A little research would do all of us a little good. Take a look at the arbitration rules for USPS labor negotiations and the number of unprofitable locations operated by the USPS to provide universal services to all citizens. The fact that the USPS is making money at all is a sign that both management and labor are doing things well. I think the fact that the president of one of the four labor unions for letter carriers is commenting on the mandate to PRE pay into pension funds to which he himself is a beneficiary lends significant credebility to his claim.

  18. Monty   December 6, 2013 at 11:39 am

    *credibility sorry for the typo

  19. USPS should Compete with Constant Contact.   February 9, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    If the postal service wants to get tech. They should have their own paid service to compete with other internet email marketing like Constant Contact. The USPS brand has potential to grow beyond it’s current

  20. John   August 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    If the postal service is privatized you better hang on to your wallet.

  21. otto e koehler   November 25, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I’ve been working for the United States Postal Service for 30 years now and have 9 years of active duty in The United States Army, I can’t belive some of these comments about the postal service.We deliver packages everyday from UPS and FEDEX they drope off packages to our post office here in Charlotte N.C and we deliver them, and we’re starting to deliver amazon 7 days a week, something neither one of the other companies could do.I can’t believe that the American people would rather send bill payments over the Internet, it’s a lot easier to hack into your personal information on the computer, then is to get your information in a bill you pay by mail.I thank you show your mailman how much you appreciate him or her for what we do everyday.The American people do not know how alot of us go out of our way to look after the elderly and their homes, I for one I’m proud to say I saved the life of customer on my mail route in Mahwah N.J back in 1992.So maybe like I said before don’t put the postal service down until you’ve walked in a maimanor mailwomens SHOES!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Eve   October 14, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Did that Rob guy COMPLETELY miss the fact that the retirement and all benefits for USPS employees ISN’T FUNDED FROM THE GOVERNMENT? Can he read?

    “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.”

    WHAT AN IDIOT! LEARN TO READ ROB! So a company can’t fund it’s own employees benefits and retirement from its own income??
    Completely off his damn rocker!

  23. Michael   July 9, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Rob, you speak like someone who sides with the greedy profiteers and does not understand who creates wealth in the country. It is the workers who create wealth, and without them the wheels of commerce do not move. Why should workers not share in the benefits of their labor with a retirement. You really should investigate what is really going on economically in our nation. Start with the much hated Marx. He at least gave a good description of how capitalism works. A company funding retirement is part of a pay package, thus you are saying a worker should take a pay cut so that company can keep more of the worker’s wages. Are you anti-worker? You say, “no cost to the employer.” What do you think? That the worker is not entitled to share in the profits of an employer–even though without the worker the employer could not be in business. You want workers to be slaves and allow the employer to engage in wage theft from keeping as much surplus capital as possible. The kind of world your thinking leads to is one where there are two classes–the wealthy ownership class, and everybody else. That is what we are coming to now due to the runaway greed of the rentier and ownership class and its foisting neoliberalism down citizens’ throats.

  24. Shari   December 30, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    If the postal service did make a profit, does the government take it for the general fund or does the post office get to keep it ??

  25. Cynthia   January 3, 2018 at 12:02 am

    Given that the postal service lost more than $50 Billion between 2007 and 2014, they need to pay back their debt instead of trying to pay themselves on the back for finally earning a profit!!! This is the American people’s money!!!

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