Postal Reform Page: 9 of 15
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" Negotiating service agreements and volume discount prices with the biggest
mailers, exploring seasonal discounts and premiums, and phasing in new
rates on a more predictable basis.
" Revamping contract talks with the unions to escape binding arbitration,
moving eventually to a mediation process like that in the Railway Labor Act,
which involves the President and Congress in averting strikes and
encouraging reasonable settlements with the public's interest paramount.
" Redefining universal service by adjusting service levels and the number of
delivery days to a more affordable level.
" Changes in the incentive structure to permit USPS to retain any excess
earnings, and remove the limit on executive pay tied to the federal executive
" Expanded freedom to use its assets for entering related markets and
developing new products without skeptical scrutiny from the PRC.
Many of the initiatives proposed in the transformation plan could be undertaken under
USPS's existing authorities, and it suggested that others could be negotiated with a PRC that
had become more cooperative in the wake of the terrorist attacks. However, Congress would
need to act in both the short and the long term to achieve the most significant changes. One
change urged immediately was the removal of annual appropriations language that restricts
post office closings and mandates no reduction from the service levels that prevailed in 1983.
At the May 13, 2002 subcommittee hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs
Committee called to discuss the plan, reaction was somewhat subdued. The postmaster
general said that gaining more flexibility in pricing its services was the "number one priority"
in the transformation plan. Members generally complimented USPS on a good-faith effort
to set forth its needs, but raised questions about several key facets of the plan: whether it was
"fair to competitors;" whether opening new businesses would divert attention from its core
mission; whether closing post offices was politically realistic; and whether now is the right
time for long-term decisions, since the world of communications continues on such a rapid
pace of change.
Should the Postal Service Compete?
USPS itself, its unions, and many mailers' organizations believe that the survival of the
Postal Service depends on the institution's ability to compete in active or developing
markets, because the services it provides under its statutory monopoly are a declining
business. Another school of thought, however, rejects the notion that USPS should compete
with private sector companies who are able to provide services within the market economy.
There are several thrusts to the argument. One relates to fairness. USPS has many
advantages stemming from its governmental status. It pays no federal, state, or local taxes
on its income, sales, purchases, or property. Unlike private sector companies, It is immune
from most forms of regulation, such as zoning, land use restrictions, motor vehicle
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Postal Reform, report, February 25, 2003; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc806221/m1/9/: accessed April 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.