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Bush to Sign New Law for Postal Reform

Another increase _ 3 cents this time _ is pending and will probably take place next spring. The law won't change the need for that increase, Potter said.

Under the new law the post office can seek one more increase under its current pricing process within 18 months. After that the rate changing process would be simplified, but increases would be limited to the inflation rate.

That would make rate changes easier to plan for, something the large mailing industry has sought.

But it's a provision vehemently disliked by William Burrus, president of the American Postal Workers Union, who said the cap will have a devastating effect on employee wages and benefits.

"This limit on rate increases _ without regard to the actual costs the Postal Service incurs _ will result in an artificial cap on postal workers' wages," Burrus told his union members.

And Burrus called "insulting" a provision in the measure requiring a three-day wait before a worker can apply for compensation for on-the-job injuries.

William H. Young, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, called passage of the measure "bittersweet."

He praised the bill for preserving union bargaining rights and helping the post office financially, but said the waiting period for injury compensation "really sticks in my craw."

"Frankly, it's insulting," Young said.

Burrus argues that the bill tilts too heavily toward the interests of large business mailers, a concern shared by consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

Nader and his associate, Christopher Shaw, last week released a book analyzing postal operations and urging establishment of a new postal consumer action group to represent the interests of the average consumer in mail matters.

The bill also will allow the post office to be more competitive in delivery of express mail and packages, easing the rate changing process for those items and permitting it to negotiate package deals with large mailers.

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On the Net:

U.S. Postal Service: http://www.usps.com

Information on the bill, H.R. 6407, can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/


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© 2006 The Associated Press