A coalition of organizations representing commercial and nonprofit users of the mail on Friday petitioned the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to issue a stay preventing the US Postal Service from increasing postal rates on August 29. NNA appears as an intervenor with the News Media Alliance.The motion for a stay is the second attempt to halt the rates, brought in a lawsuit challenging the Postal Regulatory Commission’s authority to allow rate increases beyond the inflation-based cap in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. Before USPS announced the August increase, the mailers’ groups had asked for a judicial stay, but were turned down because the size of the rate increase was not yet known. Increases of nearly 9% are ahead for Periodicals newspapers.
Now, the mailers say, the impending rates are known and the damage from them will be irreparable unless the court holds off the increase until the end of the lawsuit. Among the petitioners explaining the harms being done to the publishing world were NNA member Multi-Media Channels, LLC, in Milwaukee, which detailed the negative impact upon news coverage from the postage increases. MMC was joined by Consumer Reports and Yankee Publishing in New Hampshire, among others.
The motion said, “the ability of movants to educate, advocate, and provide direct services will be significantly curtailed… (R)educed mailings will curtail veterans’ benefits, such as rides to medical appointments, career fairs, and free benefits counseling services on which veterans depend). MMC (newspapers) will be ‘reducing news coverage and providing less service to our customers.’ These harms will be irreparable.”
Oral argument in the appeal is set for September 13. Unless the Court grants the stay, the postage rates will go into effect before the Court makes it decision about the PRC authority to allow the increases. Once the increased rate money is spent, it cannot be refunded by USPS.
NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, OK, said:
“We were shocked that the Postal Service decided to implement such dramatic postage increases just as the economy is struggling to re-emerge from the COVID shutdowns. The increases for newspaper mailers will be more than four times what they would have been under the inflation cap, but the ability of our readers and customers to pay for these increases certainly is still being held down by the very real cap on economic activity from COVID. NNA thanks News Media Alliance for forming our team to oppose the increases and get some clarity in what we can expect from the Postal Service in the future.”
A copy of the motion is available on the NNA website here.