- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2011

The head of a major union for nearly 200,000 mail carriers expressed disappointment Monday that the White House has not opposed the U.S. Postal Service’s plans to save money by eliminating home delivery of mail on Saturdays.

“They had some positive provisions in their recommendations and, unfortunately, we were disappointed in the fact they flip flopped on six-day, five-day,” Fredric V. Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said in a press briefing.

“We continue to work with the administration on that issue,” he said.

Mr. Rolando, whose union recently hired Ron Bloom, a former aide to President Obama to develop new business ideas for the Postal Service, said he was confident the union and the Postal Service would agree to a new labor deal after both sides agreed to extend talks until next month.

He said the union had plans that would help the Postal Service save billions of dollars. The Postal Service lost more than $5 billion in fiscal 2011. He said he could not divulge the specifics of those plans because labor talks are still under way.

But Mr. Rolando suggested that one key aspect of the plans involves shifting retirees’ health plan to Medicare. He also said Congress should end the mandate that the Postal Service pay for future retiree health benefits in advance.

Without that requirement, Mr. Rolando said, the Postal Service would have broke even in four of the past five years. He also said the Postal Service and union members aren’t looking for a bailout from Congress, because the Postal Service is not funded by tax dollars.

Meantime, U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, who has pushed for a five-day delivery schedule, said Congress needs to revisit postal legislation pending both in the House and Senate.

“If passed, either bill would provide at best one year of profitability, and at least a decade of steep losses,” he said during a separate briefing.

Aside from seeking changes in the law to move to five-day delivery, the Postal Service also is pushing for the ability to have greater control of its health care and retirement plans and consolidate post offices and mail processing centers.

Mr. Donahoe said neither the House nor Senate legislation will help the Postal Service meet its target of reducing costs by $20 billion by 2015. However, he said taking “the best of both the House and Senate approaches” would “provide the Postal Service with the legal framework it needs.”