The United States Postal Service is expected to run out of money in 2011. From 2007 to 2010, the USPS lost $20 billion in revenue. Now, the organization is approaching its congressionally imposed total debt ceiling of $15 billion. Our new congress should be hesitant to increase this. Recently, the Postal Regulatory Commission denied a postage rate increase. Increasing rates with further depress volumes, presenting the USPS with a catch 22.
Meanwhile, the American Postal Workers Union, representing over 200,000 workers, has begun collective bargaining negotiations for a new contract. The union president has stated that his members are “entitled” to pay raises and demands the union get “more control over activities at work, more money, better benefits—we want more.” Including their fringe benefits, postal workers already receive 35% more than comparable private sector employees, according to expert Michael Schuyler.
Will regulation of the internet come to the rescue of the USPS? Don’t rule out this possibility. The internet and electronic alternatives to snail mail are to blame for the troubles of the Postal Service. The federal government has just taken its first bite out of this juicy internet fruit and it will be difficult to stop. I wonder if a small tax on each email message isn’t already under consideration.