senate resolution no.92

Senators McBroom and Damoose offered the following resolution:

A resolution to vehemently oppose the transfer of mail processing operations from the Iron Mountain Processing and Distribution Center to the Green Bay Processing and Distribution Center in Wisconsin.

Whereas, The United States Postal Service has a long and venerable tradition of serving as a great equalizer between the people of our nation. Both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States gave Congress the power to establish a system of post offices, and a Post Office Department was first established by the Second Continental Congress in 1775, with Benjamin Franklin appointed to serve as the Postmaster General. Throughout its 250-year history, the Post Office has chosen time and time again to prioritize service over profit, from President Washington’s support for the subsidization of stagecoaches in the 1780s, to the construction of money-losing postal routes to encourage settlement in the west during the mid-19th century, to the creation of the Pony Express to deliver the mail through extreme environments in 1860, to the elimination of price differences based on the distance a letter was to travel in 1863. While free home delivery began in cities in 1863, it was not initially offered in rural areas, though they paid the same rates. After initial experiments showed how happy rural customers were to be given the same attention as city-dwellers, rural free delivery became a permanent service in 1902. It is the mission of the United States Postal Service “to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people”; and

Whereas, The Post Office is a service that we, as a society, have chosen to provide to our people. There is no constitutional mandate that the Post Office be run as a profitable business enterprise; to the contrary, our history shows that we have repeatedly used the Post Office to ensure that every American, no matter where they live, is connected through the post. The people can choose the level of postal service that they want the United States Postal Service to provide, and they can decide what costs they are willing to bear to provide that service; and

Whereas, Contrary to the desires of many that the United States Postal Service put service first, there are those who insist that it must be run like a business. The “Delivering for America” plan, published in March 2021, and particularly its ‘optimized collections plan’, emphasizes the financial viability of the Postal Service, with a focus on raising enough revenue to cover their operating costs and fund new investments. The plan proudly proclaims that it will enable the United States Postal Service to operate with a positive net income, and the most recent report boasts that it has reduced projected ten-year losses from 160 billion dollars to 70 billion dollars. These publications read like a corporate marketing pitch, establishing goals such as a “more rational pricing approach,” a “stable and empowered workforce” and a “bold approach to growth, innovation and continued relevance.” What these profit-minded advocates seemingly fail to recognize is that lower-quality service and higher prices drive customers away, decreasing use of the postal service and thus decreasing revenue, while simultaneously undermining the Postal Service’s mission of binding the nation together; and

Whereas, The United States Postal Service’s focus on financial optimization has already had negative impacts on those living in rural areas, such as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Local post offices have changed the time when mail is gathered for delivery from the afternoon to the early morning, meaning that a piece of mail dropped off during the day will remain at the post office for far longer before the shipping process begins. In practical effect, this adds one day to shipping times even while allowing the Postal Service to deny having done so for accounting purposes. Additionally, one-day Priority Mail Express shipping, which was available as recently as early January 2024, is no longer available from the UP to anywhere in Michigan; instead, citizens are being charged the same rate for two-day shipping. Combined with the change in collection time above, next-day shipping has essentially been transformed into three-day shipping. This is extremely problematic for businesses and health departments that need to collect samples of drinking water and have them delivered to a laboratory for bacterial testing within 24 hours of sampling. Delays in shipping also have negative consequences for patients who receive medications through the mail, for people who need to ensure their bills are paid on time, and for businesses delivering frozen foods such as the UP’s beloved pasties. Focusing too much on the postal network as a whole while ignoring the importance of timely local shipping is not modernization; it is regression. The people of the Upper Peninsula want what’s best for their communities, not what’s best for the pocketbooks of those in Washington; and

Whereas, In January 2024, the United States Postal Service announced plans to transfer some mail processing services, including outgoing mail operations, from the Iron Mountain Processing and Distribution Center in Kingsford, Michigan, to the Green Bay Processing and Distribution Center in Wisconsin. The Postal Service has justified this plan based on the fact that a majority of the mail and packages sent from the Iron Mountain area are destined for locations outside the local area. While this might make sense from the standpoint of the Postal Service as a nationwide business, it does not make sense for the people of the Upper Peninsula, for whom timely local delivery is essential. The notices that have been published about this plan assure that, while five craft employee positions will be eliminated, no management positions will be eliminated. But the notices also indicate that there will be reassignments, which means that some employees could be left without a job if they are unwilling to be reassigned to a post office far away. Furthermore, recent changes to the Iron Mountain facility may have led to inaccurate conclusions about the need for it, stacking the deck so that the evidence would support the conclusion the government was looking for. The capacity of the Green Bay facility to handle the mail from the Iron Mountain area is curiously left out of the government’s preliminary findings. When similar notices across the country all use identical, buzzword-riddled language about efficiency, cost-effectiveness, modern strategies, and “rightsizing” the postal workforce, it becomes difficult to trust that they have made a careful, informed decision about the proper level of services to provide at the Iron Mountain facility; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate, That we vehemently oppose the transfer of mail processing operations from the Iron Mountain Processing and Distribution Center to the Green Bay Processing and Distribution Center in Wisconsin; and be it further

Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the Governor of Michigan, the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the members of the Michigan congressional delegation, and the United States Postmaster General.