What the United States Postal Service continues to see as more bad news, the major postal unions are claiming is good news.
On May 9, the Postal Service announced it had recorded “a net loss” of $1.9 billion in the quarter that ended March 31.
It is “the 20th of the last 22 quarters it has sustained a loss,” the Postal Service said.
The same day, Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letters Carriers, said that the USPS had recorded “a quarterly operating profit of $261 million.”
Its operating profit for the first half of the current fiscal year was more than $1 billion, he said.
Both the USPS and Rolando are citing numbers from the Postal Service’s latest financial report. The key difference is whether the accounting places future health care costs above the bottom line — or below it.
The Postal Service says those costs — totaling more than $5 billion a year — must be considered.
The unions argue those are costs no other federal agency has to pay, and that the rebounding health of the Postal Service is distorted by including them.
“The truth is that the Postal Service’s well-publicized financial crisis is a manufactured one,” asserted the American Postal Workers Union after the USPS issued its latest financial report.
Like the letter carriers, the APWU says Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and his bean counters are insisting on showing a bleak financial picture for the USPS in hopes of getting Congress to grant it relief from that 2006 law that requires the USPS to prefund the health benefits for its retirees.
Donahoe’s plans for the USPS are nothing but “a thinly-veiled attempt at piecemeal privatization,” says the APWU.
The unions want to derail Donahoe’s continuing downsizing efforts and argue the new numbers show USPS is making a comeback. This is not the time to shrink the Postal Service, the unions say.
USPS officials counter that their assertion that the agency remains in serious financial trouble is the only accurate reading anyone should give the latest financial numbers from L’Enfant Plaza.
By their accounting, the USPS remains in “a deep financial hole,” saddled with billions in costs that it can no longer pay with stamp revenues.
Joseph Corbett, the Postal Service’s chief financial officer, told The Washington Post that it is “just not accurate” to describe the $261 million figure as an operating income or a profit.
Mail volume, especially first-class mail, continues to drop, although overall revenues climbed slightly to $16.7 billion, from $16.4 billion in the same quarter of 2013.
The bottom line, they say, is the USPS lost $1.9 billion in the quarter, the same size loss it recorded a year earlier.
For the first half, the new loss is $2.2 billion, compared to $3.1 billion in fiscal 2013.
That is perhaps a small improvement, the executives concede, but the USPS needs Congress to give it a new way of paying off its retiree obligations and to continue shrinking the agency to handle its decreased letter volume.
It is a fight the unions are promising to press.
After all, Rolando has noted repeatedly that the USPS seems likely to post a $1.1 billion “operating profit” for the year ending Sept. 30.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Marty Frankevicz reports on the suspension of Canada Post’s cluster box conversion plan after the election of a new prime minister.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.