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Federal Eye
Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 10/16/2011

Obama’s ex-auto, manufacturing adviser sets sights on the Postal Service


Ron Bloom, photographed July 27, 2009, in Detroit. (Paul Sancya - ASSOCIATED PRESS)
President Obama’s former top adviser on manufacturing has been tapped by the nation's letter carriers to develop new business ideas for the U.S. Postal Service.

Ron Bloom, who helped restructure the automotive industry and has negotiated several large labor deals over the course of his career, served until August as Obama’s top manufacturing policy adviser. He announced Sunday that he will advise the National Association of Letter Carriers as the 280,000-member union attempts to strike a new multi-year deal with the cash-strapped Postal Service.

NALC President Fredric V. Rolando said Sunday that the union is also hiring the financial advisory company Lazard “to explore and expand the range of solutions available to the Postal Service, as well as their long-term business issues and strategies for the future.”

Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Rolando admitted that he hired Bloom in an effort to save as many letter carriers as possible from potential layoffs at USPS, which is threatening to cut as many as 120,000 positions if it earns congressional approval.

“The NALC totally rejects the only strategy put forth by postal management,” Rolando said. “Their strategy is to go down to five-day mail delivery, to close post offices, to close postal facility, to cut pensions, to reduce health insurance, and we don’t believe that’s a strategy to save the Postal Service.”

Rolando said his union’s eventual business proposals would likely highlight USPS’s unique nationwide delivery network.

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“The idea of dismantling it is no way to go about this,” he said. “A network like that, with employees that are the most trusted federal employees for the last six years in a row, we believe there’s a business opportunity out there.”

NALC and the Postal Service began negotiating a new deal in late August; the union’s current contract expires Nov. 20. As a policy, the Postal Service does not comment on active labor negotiations, but Rolando said the talks are going well.

Bloom, a Harvard Business School graduate and former Larzard vice president, joined the Obama administration in 2009 as a member of the president’s auto industry task force, helping to restructure General Motors and Chrysler before leading the coordination of the administration’s manufacturing policy at the departments of Commerce, Energy, Labor and Treasury. According to a new book by journalist Ron Suskind, Bloom is said to have been furious with some of Obama’s top advisers for not understanding the personal plight of auto workers.

Reached Saturday, Bloom declined to publicly discuss his ideas on postal reform — but said that he still regularly uses first-class mail.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

Treasury’s auto adviser led other rescues

The Federal Eye’s full coverage of the U.S. Postal Service

For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

By  |  03:00 PM ET, 10/16/2011

Categories:  Postal Service

 
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