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Senate Committee Confirms Biden’s Three Nominees for the USPS Board of Governors
By Bob Levi
NAPS Director of Legislative & Political Affairs
Elmer T. Klassen, the first postmaster general of the U.S. Postal Service, mused upon his departure in 1975—after three years in the post and considerable congressional criticism—that, under his leadership, the agency “perhaps lost track of service.”
In the much more competitive postal environment that exists today, the agency teeters on a perilous trajectory where it can ill afford to de-emphasize the essential services it provides the American public. Congressional outrage, White House alarm, stakeholder complaints and media attention should provide adequate incentive to double-down on service.
The virtual 2021 NAPS Legislative Training Seminar (LTS), conducted on April 18, enabled approximately 400 NAPS legislative activists to familiarize themselves with information essential to advocate for a viable, sustainable, reliable and responsive national postal system. In addition, the conference equipped participants with the novel tools vital to our legislative success as the nation begins to emerge from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
At this year’s LTS, NAPS members could not network with their NAPS colleagues or meet in person with their members of Congress. Nevertheless, the Zoom platform enabled us to connect with each other and with our elected federal policymakers. Moreover, the success of our virtual LTS was accompanied by record-breaking contributions associated with LTS to the Supervisors’ Political Action Committee (SPAC) that totaled over $41,000.
Three highlights of the event were presentations from Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Gary Peters, House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Gerry Connolly and Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Michael Kubayanda. You can click here to read their views regarding the importance of quality mail service and the future of the Postal Service and legislation.
A few pivotal events have occurred since the LTS adjourned. First, the three vacant seats on the Postal Service Board of Governors likely will have been filled by the time you read this article. On April 28, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee favorably reported the nominations of former Postmaster General Ron Stroman, former American Postal Workers Union General Counsel Anton Hajjar and Vote at Home Institute Chief Executive Officer Amber McReynolds to the Senate floor.
The committee tally was 8-4 for everyone. However, there were two different votes for Ron Stroman: one vote to complete an unfinished term that expires in December and a second vote on a full term, which garnered a 9-3 majority. Once confirmed by the Senate, the Board of Governors will have its full complement of nine presidentially nominated members.
Members of Congress and postal stakeholders had urged President Biden to nominate and the Senate to promptly confirm nominees to the vacant board positions. There has been deep concern that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and an incomplete board were rendering consequential and far-reaching postal decisions relating to operations and the future of the agency.
NAPS was among those urging postal leadership to pause until the new governors could review those decisions and provide constructive input. In addition, it would be prudent to permit them to contribute their views to the prematurely unveiled 10-year strategic plan.
Another event that took place in late April was the Postal Service’s untimely resurrection of 18 plant consolidations, originally proposed about seven years ago (click here). Many in Congress already have expressed disapproval of the Postal Service’s announcement.
Combined with the agency’s intent to slow down delivery of a significant portion of the mail—as part of the 10-year business plan—the consolidations may very well exacerbate the problem of not providing prompt mail delivery, particularly to rural areas. As a matter of historical accuracy, these proposed consolidations were suspended in 2015 due to the negative impact that such consolidations would have had on postal performance.
On the other hand, the agency proposed acquiring package-sorting machinery and 45 new facilities to enhance package capacity. There ought not be a tradeoff between prompt mail delivery and increasing package capacity; the agency should be able to integrate both effectively and successfully.
The third event that recently took place was NAPS’ receipt of the new pay package, consistent with section 1004 of Title 39, U.S. Code. The 40-year-old consultative process, under which the previous pay package was imposed, cries out for reform and fairness.
For this reason, NAPS prioritized seeking congressional support of H.R. 1623, the “Postal Supervisors and Managers Fairness Act,” at the LTS. During Zoom meetings with their members of Congress, LTS participants promoted this bill that would provide some teeth to the consultative process by precluding postal leadership from ignoring the recommendations and findings of a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service-appointed fact-finding panel.
NAPS members who have not participated in such Zoom meetings should visit the NAPS Legislative Action Center to communicate with their member of Congress and urge their support of this ground-changing measure.