JUST WHEN it appeared passage of the 1,000-pound gorilla known as postal reform appeared a fait accompli for Congress, in steps the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) throwing a curve ball that would make Roger Clemens blush.

As the hours leading up to Congress’ election day break ticked off, the NALC somewhat surprisingly voiced its displeasure with some elements of the bill dealing with workman’s compensation. The NALC, a large and respected union, weighed in just late enough in the process to prevent a vote from being taken on legislation that would have updated the 30+-year-old, antiquated business practices of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

As you read this, Congress may or may not be working toward postal reform legislation. And you, the commercial printer, may or may not be interested in the outcome. As statistics show, at least half of you should be worried: Ben Cooper, who is a driving force behind the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, points out that 45 percent to 47 percent of printed material requires distribution through the mail stream.

And since the USPS is obligated to increase rates in order to cover their costs, postal rate increases of 7 percent to 10 percent could become an annual event, prompting your direct mail and publishing customers to re-evaluate their distribution plans.

Postal reform is just one of several key legislative issues that printers should be mindful of as 2006 rolls into 2007. Here is a sampling of topics that are most relevant to our industry.

POSTAL REFORM: The elements of this legislation that pertain to printers have pretty much been successfully addressed, but USPS reform impacts many interested parties. Cooper notes that many of the big-ticket items have been negotiated; despite the NALC wanting to wet its beak, it would seem that legislation should be within grasp.

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