In response to election-year political gridlock on common sense reform for the struggling United States Postal Service, I sent the following letter to roughly 300 U.S. Senators and Representatives this week. This isn’t just a matter for the postal industry — it’s in the best interest of the nation’s overall economy.
Quad was founded by my father in 1971, when he took out a second mortgage on our home and he along with a handful of dedicated partners opened the doors to what today has grown into the nation’s largest long-run printer with nearly 20,000 employees spanning across 20 states. I was two years old when Quad began, so I have quite literally grown up as part of the industry. My father’s vision has transformed many lives through hard work, dedication and smart business. However, that vision would not have happened without the tremendous partnership Quad has forged with the United States Postal Service. Today, Quad mails more than 10 billion pieces of mail each year on behalf of our clients. This accounts for 13% of the overall marketing mail volume in the country.
The USPS continues to be a vital partner to the mailing/marketing industry — an industry that is comprised of retailers, marketers, catalogers, directories, direct mailers, magazine and book publishers along with paper manufacturers, timber producers and many others. The industry employs over 7 million people and accounts for $1.6 trillion of economic activity on par with industries such as air travel, automotive and oil and gas. The industry provides family supporting jobs throughout the country and over 90% of the Postal Service’s revenue. Leading Quad at this critical time gives me a sense of urgency in knowing that the future of our industry is at stake if our leaders do not act in our best interest.
From the largest cities to the most isolated rural areas of the country, the USPS delivers for the American people. They bring basic needs such as food, supplies and medications for our seniors and veterans. In addition to a direct line of communication with the outside world. We all know that the USPS does not let snow nor rain nor heat nor the gloom of night stop them from delivering the mail – and now we can add a global pandemic to the list that will not stop the mail. There is little doubt why the USPS continues to enjoy wide job approval and ranks as the most popular federal agency with the American public. It’s also why the founders of the country, in their wisdom, included the Postal Service in the U.S. Constitution. The USPS is the backbone of our democracy.
It is frustrating that this letter is even necessary, as this is not the first time that we in the mailing industry have been before Congress looking for a willing partner. Personally, I have had the opportunity to testify before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives three times over the past 10 years, under both Republican and Democratic leadership. Additionally, I was invited to meet with and advise the President’s Postal Taskforce just last year. Each time the message was clear, without help from Congress and the White House, further contraction in the industry and even more job loss would occur. Each time we, the mailers, have offered common sense, bi-partisan solutions that at the time enjoyed the support of postal management, postal unions and the mailing industry.
Despite this testimony and the fact that our coalition has participated in countless meetings with Senators and Representatives from across the country Congress has failed to act. It’s not just inaction – now we’ve seen purposeful efforts to undermine the public’s trust of this absolutely vital public agency and the life blood of our industry.
When I first testified before Congress in 2011 the mailing industry employed 8.7 million people. It’s maddening that the predictions have come true and we have lost over 1.4 million jobs in our industry due in large part to the continued inaction on common sense reforms. No one in Congress supports the mandate to continue prefunding of healthcare benefits for Postal retirees – but yet for some reason that mandate continues to exist. Postal employees pay the same Medicare taxes as everyone else earning a paycheck but then are denied the full benefits they’ve been paying for throughout their career. When Congress does act as part of the CARES Act, the result is to burden the USPS with additional debt. Debt that will be paid back through higher postage rates.
The postal reforms that our industry has worked on and handed to Congress readymade for nearly a decade will save the USPS. They will help sustain the private mailing economy and will be integral to the recovery of the American economy as we struggle to overcome the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. Washington spends a great deal of time on stimulus programs that, while important and necessary, create winners and losers. However, maintaining an effective and affordable Postal Service will benefit all businesses and all households in every locality of the United States. Whether you live or work in one of our largest cities or in the most remote parts of the country, the USPS is there for you six days a week.
Now is the time to take decisive action, S. 4174 is a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Collins and Senator Feinstein that will provide financial relief to help offset losses caused by COVID-19. Additionally, S. 2965 is another bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Daines and Senator Schatz that would immediately repeal the requirement that the USPS annually prepay future retirement health benefits.
Additionally, we’ve seen a renewed interest in the USPS by the House Oversight Committee and now both houses of Congress and both parties have proposed financial resources for the USPS in their respective stimulus legislation ($25 billion in the House and $10 billion in the Senate). These are positive developments, but it is long past the time to act and make the commitment to financial sustainability that our industry needs. This is especially true considering the industry is facing a Postal Regulatory Commission rate increase that without Congressional action could mean a 40% postage rate increase over the next five years. A proposal that will drive out even more volume from the USPS. All while the common sense reforms our industry has been pushing, which will help maintain if not grow volume, wither away in Congress.
The American people should have full confidence in the USPS to deliver anything that it is entrusted with. We should celebrate the Postal Service as the best part of the federal government, instead, our customers continue to worry about the viability of this iconic institution, due to a lack of stewardship over the years. We know that Washington cannot save our industry alone and thankfully there are still 7 million people in our industry ready to fight to ensure the USPS is strong and sustainable and the foundation of a thriving economy yet again.
Chairman, President & CEO