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Chapter 1 Compliance with Statutory Policies
13. Complaint on Electronic Postmark: Docket No. C2004-2
On February 25, 2004, a complaint proceeding was filed on the subject of the Postal Service’s electronic postmark. The fundamental basis for the complaint was the allegation that the Postal Service is acting unlawfully by offering this purely electronic service without first submitting to the PRC a request for an Opinion and Recommended Decision on classification provisions and associated rates with this service. In its responsive pleadings filed on April 26, 2004, the Postal Service argued that complaint proceedings before the PRC were not intended and are not appropriate to resolve issues as to whether the Postal Service is acting beyond its lawful authority.
On March 3, 2006, the Commission denied the motion to dismiss, taking the view that a hearing would be necessary to establish the material facts regarding the postal aspects of the service. Testimony was filed by the complainant and subsequently by the Postal Service. The case is pending before the PRC.
14. Complaint on Stamped Stationery: Docket No. C2004-3
On June 24, 2004, a complaint was filed with the PRC concerning stamped stationery issued by the Postal Service on June 23, 2004. The stationery consists of sheets of paper imprinted with indicia that are representations of The Art of Disney: Friendship postage stamps. The complainant believes that the stationery is within jurisdiction asserted by the PRC in the 1970s, similar to stamped envelopes, stamped cards, and aerogrammes. The Commission issued two Orders on August 24, 2006, finding stamped stationery to be a postal service subject to its jurisdiction, and initiating a new docket (MC2006-7, discussed above) to receive a request by the Postal Service for a Recommended Decision establishing a classification and fee schedule for the service. The Commission’s Order maintains the status quo with respect to sales of stamped stationery, pending the filing of a request and its consideration in the new docket.
15. Complaint on First-Class Mail Service Standards: Docket No. C2001-3
On May 19, 2001, a complaint was filed with the PRC, alleging that, in 2000 and 2001, without first requesting a PRC Advisory Opinion, the Postal Service implemented, on a nationwide or substantially nationwide basis, changes in 2- and 3-day service standards for First-Class Mail service. The complaint also alleged that the First-Class Mail service resulting from these service standard changes did not comply with various policies under the Postal Reorganization Act (PRA). The Postal Service contended that the service standard changes were part of a more extensive realignment plan previously submitted for PRC review in Docket No. N89-1. The Postal Service also did not consider that the service resulting from the changes was inconsistent with any policies of the PRA.
The Commission issued a public report on May 17, 2006, finding that: the Postal Service implemented a nationwide realignment of 2- and 3-day service standards in calendar years 2000–2001 affecting customers throughout the continental United States; the implementation plan was materially different from the plan the Postal Service had previously declared it intended to use. Given this material difference, the Postal Service
had an obligation under Section 3661(b) to seek an Advisory Opinion prior to implementing these changes, and failed to do so; and Commission jurisdiction over service complaints under Section 3662 of the act extends to filings that allege a violation of Section 3661(b) requirements.
In addition, with respect to the delivery service resulting from the 2000–2001 realignment, the Commission found that the service has not been shown to be, in total, inadequate to meet the needs of the nation’s mailers, but that in implementing the changes at issue, the Postal Service appears to have sought little or no direct input from customers about their service needs. The Commission found that, as a result, service resulting from the realignment cannot be said to be sufficient to meet those needs in all areas, as required by Section 403(b); and the Postal Service did not consistently adhere to the priorities set out in Section 101(e), which requires that it give the “highest consideration” to the expeditious transportation of important letter mail. Instead, administrative convenience resulted in mapping coverage of the 2-day standard exclusively in terms of surface transportation.
16. Evolutionary Network Development Service Changes, 2006: Docket No. N2006-1
On February 14, 2006, the Postal Service filed a request with the PRC, under Title 39, United States Code, Section 3661(b), seeking a non-binding Advisory Opinion on whether potential service changes expected to be implemented incrementally throughout the mail processing network would result in the provision of postal services consistent with the policies of the Postal Reorganization Act. The service changes, in the form of service standard upgrades or downgrades affecting numerous 3-digit ZIP Code origin-destination pairs, are expected to result from the implementation of a mail processing and transportation network realignment initiative. The objective of the initiative, called Evolutionary Network Development, is to reduce redundancy and inefficiency through the consolidation of some existing operations. The Commission has permitted discovery on the testimony filed in support of the Postal Service’s request and has conducted hearings for the cross-examination of postal witnesses. After review of participant testimony and legal briefs to be filed in October 2006, the Commission issued its Advisory Opinion.
Two separate federal district court civil actions (in Washington, D.C. and Newark, New Jersey) have been initiated by the American Postal Workers Union, seeking to challenge the implementation of any related operational and service changes before the issuance of the Commission’s Advisory Opinion.
17. LeMay v. United States Postal Service, No. 05-4001 (W.D. Ark)
A private individual filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Texarkana, Arkansas, seeking class action status against the Postal Service. In general the plaintiff alleged that the Postal Service failed to provide Priority Mail customers with the level of service they were led to believe they would receive when they paid Priority Mail rates for items weighing less than 13 ounces that were sent to destinations within three zones. The plaintiff raised four counts — three based on theories of contract, and one based on state statute. The Postal Service filed a motion to dismiss, in lieu of an answer, and plaintiff opposed the motion. On August 9, 2005, the judge dismissed the complaint, concluding that the plaintiff’s claims