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Talking Points: A guide for branch leaders on the postal financial crisis; the truth about the Postal Service and the need for congressional action. PDF

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Previously in 'POSTAL FACTS'

For FedEx and UPS, a cheaper route: the Post Office. A story in the Aug. 5 Wall Street Journal noted that “USPS has generated about $1 billion in operating profit so far this year.” On Sunday, July 20, a positive story in The Philadelphia Inquirer about NALC and the convention led the paper’s Business section. The story quoted Region 12 NBA Bill Lucini, Camden Merged, NJ Branch 540 President Chuck Goushian and NALC Chief of Staff Jim Sauber. A July 22 story by a reporter from the Philadelphia group of CBS-affiliated radio stations featured Portland, OR Branch 82’s Kevin Card, who is on assignment to NALC Headquarters as a special assistant to the president for workers’ compensation. Sioux City, IA Branch 69 President Eddie Lofland’s letter to the editor of the Sioux City Journal ran on Aug. 6. On July 14, Federal Soup quoted NALC in an article about USPS’s announced closure of 82 mail procession plants. Connecticut AFL-CIO’s Lori Pelletier wrote a letter to the editor of The Middletown Press explaining the impact pre-funding has had on USPS’ finances. Iowa Federation of Labor’s Ken Sagar’s letter to the editor of The Des Moines Register asked readers to support the boycott of Staples. An article on AlterNet described the affect the boycott of Staples could have against a push to privatize USPS.

The most insane law by Congress, ever? Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey wrote a lengthy piece describing how pre-funding is the real reason behind the Postal Service’s financial situation. An editorial in Portland, OR’s Oregonian says that the Postal Service’s partnership with Amazon is good business. An editorial in Waynesboro, VA’s News Virginian says that the Postal Service can’t cut its way to solvency. An op-ed by South Dakota Newspaper Association General Manager David Bordewyk in the Rapid City Journal also calls on Congress and the Postal Service to work to fix pre-funding. An op-ed in Federal Times by National Association of Postal Supervisors Executive Vice President Jay Killackey blames pre-funding for the reason behind “the postal blues.” An article in Government Executive reported on how Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) campaign to end Saturday mail delivery met with another failure. In an article for The Pennsylvania Gazette, blogger and postal fan Evan Kalish wrote about the importance of post offices and the Postal Service.
Click here for archived POSTAL FACTS items
 
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    Updated August 25, 2014    
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Postal Service red ink results from
congressional interference

Aug. 8, 2014—UPDATED Aug. 15—Much of the news media coverage of USPS’ quarterly report focused on Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s statements about losses, something that was also reflected in most headlines. Those stories, though, also noted gains in postal revenue and the improving mail picture. Some stories were excellent, focusing on the improved revenue and explaining how pre-funding is the reason for USPS’ red ink. NALC President Fredric Rolando seemed to be the most-quoted person in the news coverage (after the postmaster general and USPS CFO Joseph Corbett)—a fact that helps get NALC’s position out to readers, listeners and viewers.

The New York Times: Targeted pre-funding in the first paragraph and focused on the positive parts of the quarterly report, even while getting in USPS’ negative picture. Quoted only Donahoe and Rolando (mostly Rolando):

“Given the positive mail trends, it would be irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses, which would drive away mail — and revenue — and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks,” said Fredric V. Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. “Lawmakers need to preserve and strengthen the profitable postal networks — which are the future of the U.S.P.S. as it increasingly delivers not just six but seven days a week — while fixing the prefunding fiasco.”

The Wall Street Journal: Reasonable story, with negative quotes from USPS while also citing positive postal trends, singling out pre-funding. Quoted Corbett early in the story: “It's been a very good quarter in a lot of ways…” Gave more space to Rolando, the only other person quoted:

The president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Fredric Rolando, said that the progress is encouraging, and that the losses are attributable to factors other than the mail.

“Given the positive mail trends, it would be irresponsible to degrade service to Americans and their businesses, which would drive away mail—and revenue—and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks,” Mr. Rolando said.

The Washington Post: Story started out with a lot of the negatives before it improved. Quoted Corbett, Donahoe, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), along with President Rolando:

The National Association of Letter Carriers president Fredric Rolando focused on the positives Monday, saying cuts in service would “stop the postal turnaround in its tracks.”

“Lawmakers need to preserve and strengthen the profitable postal networks — which are the future of the USPS as it increasingly delivers not just six but seven days a week — while fixing the prefunding fiasco,” Rolando said.

Richmond [VA] Times-Dispatch: Story reported positive news early on; included comments from Rolando, the only person named in the story:

Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said the Postal Service's loss was largely driven by the health insurance prepayments and by an adjustment to workers' compensation interest rates.

Rolando said an improving economy and much stronger package shipping means the agency is in better financial health than it was in the past.

Government Executive: Story gave lots of attention on the improving revenue picture, on the operating profit and on the reason for the red ink. Quotes only Corbett, Donahoe and Rolando, who got as much space as the other two combined:

“Given the positive mail trends, it would be irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses, which would drive away mail -- and revenue -- and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks,” said Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. “Lawmakers need to preserve and strengthen the profitable postal networks -- which are the future of the USPS as it increasingly delivers not just six but seven days a week -- while fixing the prefunding fiasco.”

Associated Press: Story quoted only Corbett and, at greater length, Rolando:

Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, agrees that Congress should get rid of the 2006 mandated payment but says it would be “irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses” just as postal delivery is rebounding with the economy. Because more people are shopping online, “the Internet is now a net positive for USPS, auguring well for the future as e-commerce grows,” Rolando said in a statement.

AP issued a correction to its initial story (click here for an example).

The Hill: Story included many positive developments but also the USPS’ negative spin. Quotes Corbett, Donahoe and Rolando:

"Lawmakers need to preserve and strengthen the profitable postal networks — which are the future of the USPS as it increasingly delivers not just six but seven days a week — while fixing the pre-funding fiasco," Fredric Rolando, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said in a statement.

Reuters: Story led with USPS’ negative line (and had some mistakes) though it also noted positive postal developments. Quoted only Corbett and Rolando:

Many in the industry point to these improvements as a sign that the agency does not need to make the drastic service cuts it has sought.

"Given the positive mail trends, it would be irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses, which would drive away mail - and revenue - and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks," Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said in a statement.

Reuters also issued a correction to its initial story (click here for an example).

Federal Times: Story cited the quarter’s $10 million operating profit (along with the $1 billion year to date, and its longest quote is from Rolando: :

“Given the positive mail trends, it would be irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses, which would drive away mail — and revenue — and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks. Lawmakers need to preserve and strengthen the profitable postal networks — which are the future of the USPS as it increasingly delivers not just six but seven days a week — while fixing the prefunding fiasco,” he said in a statement.


Elsewhere, in the Aug. 9 Portland Press Herald, NALC President Fredric Rolando informed readers of Maine’s largest newspaper why the red ink at the Postal Service has nothing to do with the mail service that folks in Maine and elsewhere rely on and deserve.

Click here to read the letter.

Ahead of the Postal Service’s Aug. 11 release of its financial report covering the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2014, The Washington Post took a look at how USPS has been doing so far. The story referred to the “continued turnaround” of the agency, noted how its “recent improvement” is due largely to increases in package delivery, and called pre-funding “one of the biggest drags on USPS finances.”

Click here to read the story.

Los Angeles Branch 24 President Larry Brown was interviewed by Philadelphia radio station WURD-AM during NALC’s convention in July. In his in-studio interview, Brown used lots of human stories and even humor to get across the nature of the craft, the value of the Postal Service and some of the broader issues.

Click ► below to listen to the segment:

Sioux City, IA Branch 69 President Eddie Lofland’s letter to the editor of Sioux Falls, SD’s Argus Leader—the biggest newspaper in South Dakota—ran on Aug. 15.

Click here to read the letter.

In July, a Royal Oak, MI neighborhood held an appreciation party for Branch 3126 letter carrier Leo Alston, who has delivered mail to that community for more than 20 years.

Click here to read the story.

An editorial in Raleigh, NC’s News & Observer railed against pre-funding, calling it the “real threat to USPS.” It refers to the congressional mandate as “a curiosity” and further says that “The requirement needs to be lifted to give USPS a chance to rebound…” and, later on, that USPS “...has to be relieved of a congressional anchor that might sink it.” The News & Observer is the second-largest newspaper in the least-unionized state in the country.

Click here to read the editorial.

A positive opinion piece by syndicated radio host Jim Hightower about the Postal Service ran on Aug. 7 in the Stillwater [OK] News Press. Hightower wrote that USPS was on track to make a $1 billion profit this year and referred to the agency’s reported losses as “phony paper losses manufactured by Congress.”

Click here to read the story.

 
© National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO