Convention coverage: The NALC's 69th Biennial Convention took place in Philadelphia July 21-25. Select videos from sessions are now available, as are Convention Chronicles covering the entire week plus Flickr photo albums covering proceedings, workshops, activities and more. Click here to read more.
Parton homicide investigation: 9 arrests to date
April 10, 2014—On April 3, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service arrested Emmanuel Alphonse and Steven Toussaint. The two are accused of laundering money obtained from stolen identity tax refund fraud. These latest arrests bring the total number to nine for subjects charged in connection with the murder of South Florida Branch 1071 letter carrier Bruce Parton (right). Parton was a letter carrier at Miami’s Norland Post Office in northern Miami-Dade County. A 30-year veteran, Parton was murdered on December 6, 2010, while delivering mail to condominiums on his route. Click here to read more.
May 9, 2014—NALC President Fredric Rolando released a statement following today’s release of the U.S. Postal Service’s financial statement for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2014. “The Postal Service today reported a quarterly operating profit of $261 million, which brings the operating profit for the first half of fiscal 2014 to more than $1 billion,” he said. “Driving the quarterly performance were the 8 percent jump in package revenue and—in a turnaround—the 1.6 percent increase in letter revenue. These results reconfirm the steady improvement in the finances of the Postal Service.” Click here to read more.
POSTAL FACTS: NALC President Fredric Rolando was quoted in a column on Friday in The Washington Post about our objections to Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) postal bill. Rolando was a guest on Thursday’s Ed Schultz radio show to talk about the latest developments following Wednesday’s mark-up of Issa’s bill. The mark-up sparked a flurry of news media interest in NALC’s take on it, and many NALC activists helped get the word out in key areas of the country. Also in POSTAL FACTS, NALC President Fredric Rolando’s op-ed in Investor’s Business Daily on July 23 informs both the public—it's read by lots of movers and shakers—and this influential media outlet itself. NALC Chief of Staff Jim Sauber’s comments close out this story for The Hill about Issa’s postal bill and the Postal Service’s legislative situation. How letter carriers deal with this summer’s heat continues to draw the attention of the news media—for instance, in a story on Dayton, OH’s WDTN-TV. In POSTAL FACTS, you can find many examples of how NALC leaders and activists are using the news media to spread the truth about the Postal Service’s financial situation. Click here to find out how the NALC Communications Department can help members keep both the public and our elected representatives informed.
Government Snooping Revelations Should Give The Postal Service
A Huge Opportunity
For all the talk about the failures of the USPS, the latest revelations about government eavesdropping on our emails and telephone calls should be a big commercial for the benefits of physical mail and package delivery. The Post Office is uniquely positioned to exploit the opportunity.
Of course, it would help if Congress stopped trying to put it out of business. For years now, politicos of a certain ideological bent have been going after government services in general, and those with significant union populations in particular. They’ve legislated that the USPS must fully fund its entire retirement obligation, which is something it has obligated no other Federal agency to do (and few corporate retirement programs are similarly front-loaded).
That fact aside, though, the USPS has been facing challenges from services that displace its business (email can effectively replace letters, magazine delivery, and junk mail) and competitors that often outdo it (FedEx FDX +1.07%, UPS). Many have suggested that its size and structure preclude it from operating fast enough, let alone innovating.
Security. Short of being opened or read by some secret X-Ray machine, snailmail letters are far more secure than emails or phone calls. Correspondence can be certified as received and insured along the way, though regular mail is just as safe from prying eyes. I’d make a big deal out of this, even innovating a version of regular service — call it SecureMail, or something — that provides additional qualities that ensure confidentiality. Heck, why not start selling invisible ink or Enigma-like code machines?
Pricing. Having the choice of using a giant, lumbering public utility masquerading as a service provider means that the USPS helps keep market prices in check and, more so, can’t arbitrarily raise them. Just think about how ISPs have tinkering with different rates for different users. There’s a populism message here that’s very powerful and compelling; the USPS was invented early-on in our country’s history because our Founding Fathers saw the vital importance of a level playing-field on which commerce could be transacted. Where’s this heritage in today’s branding? Why isn’t every expenditure on sending a letter or package via the USPS understood as an investment in perpetuating this important infrastructure?
Reliability. I know, I know, you can’t depend on the Post Office like you can, say, FedEx. But that’s not really true, especially these days (and anecdotal stories aside), and it certainly isn’t the entire story. The USPS is required to deliver to any person in the U.S. regardless of location. Its competitors aren’t. So why not make this point boldly, almost as a dare to the industry to step up and service the greater good of the country? Oh yeah, its competitors only have to make money. Sounds like a competitive position that can’t be topped.
The privacy point is the most compelling positioning point, by far. The USPS should hit it bluntly and hard.