|Thurgood Marshall Jr.|
The plan “would return the organization to sustained profitability,” Thurgood Marshall Jr., chairman of USPS’s Board of Governors, said in a prepared statement. In contrast, legislation recently approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate would “not provide the Postal Service with the flexibility and speed that it needs to have a sustainable business model.”
Marshall reiterated his support for "the tremendous job" being done by PMG Pat Donahoe, commending him ”for his excellent work in communicating internally and externally about the changes that we are implementing, the long-term future of the Postal Service and the future of mail” and for ”keeping our eyes focused on the long-term horizon.”
Scion of a liberal icon
If you’re going to attack a plan as an anti-labor Tea Party plot, it doesn’t help to have the name “Thurgood Marshall” singing its praises. Marshall’s father is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement for creating and implementing the brilliant legal strategy that gradually dismantled Jim Crow education laws before becoming the first African-American Supreme Court justice.
Marshall Jr. has his own liberal credentials, having served under Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Ted Kennedy.
Unlike bleeding-heart senators who can’t stand the thought of closing a single post office, Marshall has actually looked at the numbers. The math is simple: The Postal Service’s expenses are billions of dollars higher than its revenues (even if the retiree-benefits and pension accounting games are excluded). Without aggressive action, revenues will continue declining faster than expenses.
The only theoretically viable alternative to Donahoe’s plan is a Republican effort led by Rep. Darrell Issa, a truly anti-labor approach that would run USPS through a Chapter 11-like ringer.
Not included in the “viable” category are government subsidies (ain’t gonna happen), privatization (who would want to own it?), and price increases (would not add enough profit because of resulting volume decreases, which would bring about calls for even more downsizing).
And certainly not included is the Senate’s half-a-loaf plan, a seemingly left-leaning approach that would only defer the crisis and make an Issa-style restructuring more likely down the road.
Here is the full text of Marshall’s statement:
For the past several years the Board of Governors has sought legislation that would improve the Postal Service business model. We have emphasized that business-as-usual is unacceptable. The long-term financial stability of the Postal Service depends upon gaining greater flexibility to adapt to the changing realities of the modern marketplace. This can only be accomplished through legislative change coupled with aggressive actions by Postal management.
Last week the Senate passed legislation intended to reform the laws that govern the Postal Service. The Board of Governors followed those deliberations and the voting very closely.
We are keenly aware that the strong feelings that so many Americans feel about Postal issues can make the legislative process difficult. So we certainly know that the Senate leadership and the bill sponsors worked very hard to get the bill passed – and indeed we respect and appreciate their hard work.
Nevertheless, when we ask whether the legislation puts the Postal Service back on a path to financial stability, the bottom line is that the Senate bill does not provide the Postal Service with the flexibility and speed that it needs to have a sustainable business model.
Our financial condition has been deteriorating for several years, and we have been operating with a very low cash balance. Every day the Postal Service posts a loss of $25 million dollars.
We therefore strongly encourage the enactment of legislation that enables the Postal Service to avoid a default and return to long-term profitability.
In February the Postal Service published a comprehensive five-year plan. The plan that we developed was the result of countless hours of thought and analysis, including validation by outside experts who specialize in major and highly successful corporate restructurings. That plan would return the organization to sustained profitability. We remain unanimous in our conviction that this comprehensive five-year plan is a fair and reasonable approach for our customers, our employees and the communities that we serve.
The plan would better position the Postal Service to pursue vital and promising revenue opportunities and also achieve a cost reduction of $22.5 billion by the year 2016. Achieving this goal is critical because it would keep our costs below our projected revenues for the remainder of the decade. The Senate bill includes many hard-fought improvements but it does not enable all of the cost reductions that are necessary to return to profitability.
Within the framework of our comprehensive plan and in consultation with members of the House and the Senate, we have continued to refine our approach with regard to rural Post Offices. We have done so as a result of listening carefully to the views of our customers and the communities we serve.
In the coming weeks, the Postal Service will provide detailed plans describing the steps that it intends to take regarding rural Post Offices. We are committed to pursuing cost reduction strategies in a thoughtful way, and we believe these announcements will lay to rest many of the concerns about our path going forward.
The Board of Governors is committed to serving rural America and to preserving the role of the Postal Service in every American community.
We are also committed to strengthening the value of the products and services that we provide now and well into the future, continually making it easier for businesses to work with the Postal Service, and to invest in our future.
Contrary to some of the words being used to describe our intended path forward, we are going to approach our network realignment in a fair, measured and methodical way.
In closing, I would like to take one moment to express the appreciation of the Board of Governors for the tremendous job that our Postmaster General and Deputy Postmaster General have done, particularly over this past year.
The issues we have dealt with are contentious and sometimes difficult to resolve. The Postal Service leadership team has soldiered through an especially challenging period and shown great leadership and great dedication. They have the unqualified confidence and support of the Board of Governors as we move forward.
I would especially like to commend the Postmaster General for his excellent work in communicating internally and externally about the changes that we are implementing, the long-term future of the Postal Service and the future of mail. It can sometimes be tempting to focus solely on the immediate issues as they arise. Thankfully we have not fallen into that trap because the Postmaster General has tackled those immediate issues while also keeping our eyes focused on the long-term horizon.