Regulator rejects 11th-hour bid to stop USPS service changes

US postal regulators have rejected a last minute union attempt to block changes to mail service standards in the United States, which are set to begin from Sunday (1 July). The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) filed a complaint before the Postal Regulatory Commission on 12 June suggesting that the US Postal Service should get a regulatory Advisory Opinion before changing its mailing standards.

The complaint is still being assessed, and is currently awaiting the Postal Service to provide its response before a 2nd July deadline.

Today the Commission rejected a separate request by the APWU for an injunction preventing USPS from changing its mail standards until the 12 June complaint has been decided.

Commission said that a preliminary injunction preventing USPS from making its service changes would cause more harm to the Postal Service than not having an injunction would cause harm to mailers.

And, it said the union had not shown enough evidence to suggest it had a strong likelihood of succeeding in its complaint.

“The APWU has failed to demonstrate that it has a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits, that it will suffer irreparable harm, or that the balance of equities in this matter weighs in its favour,” said the ruling.

Standard changes

The US Postal Service is changing its First Class Mail service standards so that overnight delivery is available only locally to its processing plants. Certain periodicals and Standard Mail service standards are also set to change.

The changes come alongside USPS plans to close 48 area mail processing plants in July and August as part of efforts to cut its operating costs by $1.2bn a year, thereby helping to counter annual losses at the Postal Service project to run to $14bn in 2012.

The Commission is carrying out an Advisory Opinion on the closures, which are also to see 92 plants shuttered in early 2013. But, the Opinion it is thought likely to take until early September to complete.

As it ruled on the request for a preliminary injunction today, the Commission did cast doubt on the APWU’s evidence so far that its complaint should be upheld.

The Commission’s analysis states in today’s ruling: “APWU fails to provide any persuasive argument that (the US postal law) precludes the Postal Service from implementing any nationwide change in the nature of postal services until after the Commission issues its advisory opinion.”

However, Commission officials said it was too early to make any inferences about how it will rule on the APWU complaint.

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