“I pay $3 million a year to the U.S. Postal Service, and I wasn’t going to just say ‘OK’ to their continuous rate increases,” said Chris Bradley, president and CEO of Cuddledown catalog, during a jam-packed session on postal reform held at the New England Mail Order Association’s (NEMOA) conference in New Hampshire in September.
Bradley and a group of other Maine-based mailers, including catalogers, printers and direct marketers, banded together earlier this year in an effort to educate their legislators on the impact that three postal increases in 18 months has wrought on their companies. Their efforts are instructive for other mailers similarly exasperated with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
The Maine-based group, which also included catalogers L.L. Bean, Sturbridge Yankee Workshop and Planet Dog, met with Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the latter of whom is on the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, which oversees the USPS. During the face-to-face with the politicians, the mailers used what undoubtedly was a strong argument: Their companies collectively represent about 16,000 Maine-based jobs.
Postal increases can force employers to shed jobs, as Cuddledown did after the recent postal hikes: Bradley had to lay off 10 of the company’s 90 employees. Another 8-percent hike, he said, will mean another eight $30,000-a-year jobs shed. “This can’t go on,” he said.
At the NEMOA conference, Bradley and his co-presenter Jim O’Brien of Time Inc., challenged mailers in other states to also engage in grass-roots activism and to seek assistance from their legislators. Indeed, the Maine mailers are admirably exercising the most basic right of all Americans: To stand up and be heard.
Time will tell if their efforts are effective, but one thing already is certain—the connection has been made: The Postal Service’s troubles don’t just affect USPS employees. They affect all American businesses and citizens—read: campaign contributors and voters. The Maine group should be commended for their leadership on this issue—and their actions should be emulated by mailers in every state.