Newspapers oppose postal rate increases

The National Newspaper Association has expressed its dismay that the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors plans to increase postage rates beyond inflation levels. NNA President Robert M. Williams, Jr. said the rate increase would have a negative impact upon jobs and local businesses served by community newspapers.

“The Great Recession hit America’s small businesses and their communities hard. All of us in business have had to cut costs and make many adjustments to stay afloat. Now that the recession is supposedly over, an above-inflation postage increase may seem to make sense to the Postal Service, but it simply passes along the pain to our own workforce and our local communities. This increase will not help us keep jobs alive and products moving in local communities,” Williams said.

The Postal Service today said it would ask the Postal Regulatory Commission for its usual annual inflation-based price increase, presently at 1.6 percent, and an additional 4.3 percent that it calls an “exigent” or emergency rate. USPS said in today’s announcement that the “precarious financial condition” of the Postal Service and the “uncertain path toward enactment of postal reform legislation” were primary reasons for seeking price changes above the price cap. The increase would take effect Jan. 27.

NNA understands the Postal Service’s legislative predicament, in which several sessions of Congress have elapsed while discussions of postal reform continue. But trying to solve a financial problem by cutting services and raising rates is a solution that worsens USPS’s difficulties rather than helping them, according to Williams.

“We are doing our best to get Congress to understand that the Postal Service desperately needs help from Congress to address its cost structure, particularly in wrestling with the high cost of health care, as we all must. Congress must make it possible for the Postmaster General to seek a more affordable path for retirees by realistically using the Medicare benefits that USPS is already paying for. We would hope Congress will see that this rate increase is going to simply make it tougher for all businesses and consumers to stay in the mail, he said.”

Williams said NNA would join with the Affordable Mail Alliance, a coalition of major mailers’ organizations, to emphasize to USPS’s regulators, the Postal Regulatory Commission, that the inflation cap is critical to businesses that use the mail.

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