Wednesday, November 17, 2021

USPS Board of Governors Reappoint Ron Bloom Chairman

On November 10, 2021, the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) nine member board of governors, dominated by six of former President Donald Trump’s appointees, reappointed Trump appointee Ron A. Bloom as Board Chairman for another year. The problem is that Bloom’s term as a board member is set to expire December 8, 2021.

Bloom was nominated to the Postal Service Board of Governors by President Donald Trump, confirmed by the Senate and began his service Aug. 20, 2019. Bloom served the remainder of a seven-year term that expired Dec. 8, 2020. When Pres. didn't officially reappoint Bloom for another full term, or appoint someone else for the full term, the USPS Board voted themselves voted to appoint Bloom for a one year holdover term. He was then elected by his fellow Trump appointed Governors, on Feb. 9, 2021, to serve as the 24th Chairman of the Board of Governors.

The Board's action to reappoint Bloom to the Chair position for another year was opposed by Pres. Joe Biden’s three appointees to the board. The six Trump appointee board members refused to allow Biden's three appointees to voice their objections to Bloom’s reappointment as chairman, ruling that their objections were not in order.

The Trump appointees also reappointed current vice chairman, Roman Martinez IV, to an additional one-year term. Martinez, an investment banker who was also appointed by Trump, is serving a seven-year term that will not expire until 2024.

None of the governors discussed the significance of their vote to appoint Bloom to the chair position, however, it clearly signals they intend to reappoint Bloom to another one year holdover term on December 8, if Biden does not appoint someone else to replace Bloom.

Some Democratic members of Congress have urged Biden not to reappoint Bloom, a Democrat who had served in the Obama administration, because of his strong support of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and his plan to slow mail service deliveries while increasing postal rates.

DeJoy’s 10-year plan, implemented on October 1, 2021, will transform virtually every aspect of the Postal Service, reworking how the Postal Service transports mail and other products. The plan will overhaul its processing and logistics network; slowing service standards for First-Class Mail and Periodicals, Ballots by Mail and First-Class Packages Services from one to three days to three to five days. It will also reconfigure the location of places where customers can obtain postal products and services, and close small rural town post offices across the nation. The plan raised rates on letters, magazines and marketing missives by as much as 6.9 percent, and increased the cost of a first-class stamp from 55 to 58 cents in the the first round of rate increases.

Last month, the first full month of the new, slower mail delivery standards, USPS didn’t even meet them. Instead of delivering 95% of mail on time, as the plan demands, just 91% of it was delivered when it was supposed to be. That, says Paul Steidler, senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and an expert on the postal service, “underscores they aren’t performing and doing what they said they were going to do.”

“It’s especially not great for October because it’s a slow month for mail, so it’s not a good barometer” for the rest of the year. “I would take whatever the standards are for what you are mailing—it’s now 5 business days coast-to-coast—and I’d add two days onto it,” said Steidler. “It’s important to know that, not only for the holidays but for end-of-year bills.”

This is all being done on purpose, and possibly for private personal gain. The leadership of the United State Postal Service is choosing to violate the agency’s mission statement as established by Section 101(a) of Title 39 of the U.S. Code: “The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal (mail) services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.”

DeJoy’s 10-year plan goal is to turn the Postal Service from an organization that focuses on the delivery of mail to 160 million addresses every day into a package carrier that competes with some of the most efficiently competitive logistics companies in the world … with a monopoly first-class mail delivery service on the side.

This means the Postal Service will increase prices more and more frequently, weaken its delivery goals, and devote those new revenues to competing with UPS, FedEx, and the like.

DeJoy says that’s where the growth is. First-class mail delivery fell 42 percent in the last 10 years and is predicted to drop another 30 percent over the next 10, and delivery hit a 50-year low in fiscal 2021, the postmaster general said.

The 5.3 percent increase in operating revenue in fiscal 2021 was driven by 12.2 percent growth in the shipping and package market, the postmaster general said. It was essentially Christmas season from March through December in 2020, and the surge has begun to abate as competition has intensified, but the Postal Service says package volume remains above pre-pandemic levels and is expected to grow.

It has shown some signs of early success. Losses for fiscal 2021 totaled $6.9 billion, which was $1.5 billion better than predicted and $700 million less than in 2020. The postmaster general declared the Postal Service to be “ready” for the holiday rush, unlike last year, when on-time delivery rates hit record lows in many areas and the service, by its own admission, failed to meet the nation’s needs. New equipment, office space, and personnel are arriving on almost a daily basis.

The problem is almost all the new equipment — sorting machines, vehicles, etc. — is designed to help grow the package business rather than build up the product lines that are most profitable and upon which Americans depend the most — first-class and marketing mail, and election ballots by mail. The Postal Service delivered 7.6 billion packages in fiscal 2021. It delivered more than 120 billion pieces of periodicals and first-class or marketing mail.

In short, the Postal Service’s plan for recovery is to drive up sales of the business in which it is most vulnerable to competition from UPS, FedEx and the like, and reduce emphasis on the services most vital to citizens that, by law, only it can provide. There is something to be said for its efforts to handle last-mile delivery to hard-to-reach locations on behalf of the package shipping behemoths — it accounts for right at half the Postal Service’s package business — but the “Delivering for America” plan takes the Postal Service in a direction it has never gone with no assurances of success.

The main product is being sacrificed. Prices for first-class stamps increased from 55 cents to 58 cents in August, the second three-cent increase of the year. DeJoy confirmed at last week’s Postal Board of Governors meeting that delivery expectations would be lowered for 30 to 40 percent of first-class mail to account for the Postal Service’s plan to rely on trucks, not planes, to move coast-to-coast mail.

The new delivery vehicles, 165,000 trucks, at $25,000 or so each, are designed to speed package delivery, not first-class mail. The floors of postal sorting centers are being redesigned to reflect the lower first-class volume and higher package business.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service is not even meeting the new less-demanding delivery goals.It continues to lag far behind its package shipping competitors in efficiency and far ahead on labor costs. It also just made 66,000 temporary employees into full-time employeescomplete with health insurance, pensions, and other benefits.

DeJoy’s plan depends on one aspect not being reformed — the fact that although packages generate nearly 40 percent of Postal Service revenue these days, they somehow consume just 8.8 percent of the Postal Service’s resources. He wants to pour more money into the part of his business most vulnerable to competition and least necessary for Americans but cut resources for the job they actually need the Postal Service to do.

When customers lose faith in the Postal Service for first-class delivery and its five-days-if-we-can delivery schedule and the early momentum for its foray into big-time package delivery fades — as it already has begun to do — the Postal Service will be left with the consequences of DeJoy’s plan.

What will the balance sheet look like then? And how much will Americans be expected to pay to save the Postal Service again?

Trump appointed Ron Bloom, Louis DeJoy, and the other Board members, to diminish service reliablity and public confidence in the USPS to the point that private companies can take it over, stealing the oldest and most revered of our institutions away to privatized Wall Street and multi-national corporate control. To make a buck.

Fortunately, Pres. Biden has the opportunity to replace two DeJoy supporting members of the board by the end of 2021. Board members Ron Bloom and John Barger — who side with other board members appointed by Pres. Donald Trump in supporting DeJoy's 10-year plan — both reach the end of their appoint terms in December. Biden can increase his Board appointees to a majority of five board members who can vote to replace Postmaster DeJoy and scrap his 10-year plan.

No comments:

Post a Comment