Public Comment

Postmaster General Earns His Compensation

By Kim R. Fernandez
Wednesday March 18, 2009 - 06:06:00 PM

The Feb. 25 commentary by Allen Sanford, “Mr. Potter and the Postal Service,” lacks any logical cohesion. He faults the very company he dedicated so many years working for by purporting it has a “monopoly” that through his faithful work he helped support. 

Sanford thinks that the postmaster general’s compensation of $800,000 is unjustified. Perhaps some facts will help him understand the fine points of Potter’s compensation. More than $381,000 of that figure is an increase in his Civil Service retirement which he won’t get in a lump sum but will be paid out in monthly increments after he retires. 

The Postal Service Board of Governors did provide Potter with a $135,000 incentive payment in 2008. The actual 2008 salary was $263,575. What does Sanford think should be an adequate salary for the CEO of a $75 billion corporation with 655,000 employees, four unions, and three management associations? 

Perhaps Sanford would find some comparisons helpful. The postmaster general of Australia earns $1.89 million; New Zealand, $733,000; United Kingdom, $1.57 million; and, Canada, $483,000. 

Sanford doesn’t seem to think that Potter warrants such compensation even for the tremendous responsibility he has of managing a company that handles more than 40 percent of the world’s mail volume, none of which could be possible without the “machines” that Sanford cites as doing all of Potter’s work. Ironically, these very machines provided Sanford healthy and steady employment as a maintenance craft employee. 

Compensation comes from making critical management decisions, like reducing work hours by 50 million, the equivalent of 25,000 employees and removing a total of $2 billion in costs from the budget, all the while providing the American consumer with record-breaking service. Anticipating the economic downturn, Postmaster General Potter took other strong measures, like entering into an unprecedented agreement with our second largest union (the National Association of Letter Carriers) to adjust delivery routes to reflect actual workloads; consolidated mail processing plant operation to reduce duplication; reduced hours at mail processing facilities; and suspended new post office construction. And Potter accomplished this without a single lay-off.  

Where other companies were folding or seeking a bailout, the Postal Service made money in 2008. Yes, that’s right because even a cursory review of our finances would reveal a glaring entry that makes our budget stand out from all others. 

As a result of legislation enacted in late 2006, the Postal Service is required to pre-fund its retiree’s health benefits, a pre-funding by the way that benefits retirees like Sanford. The Congress required an annual contribution of $5.6 billion over a 10-year period. Had it not been for that $5.6 billion contribution, the Postal Service would have ended 2008 $2.8 billion in the black. 

The most alarming unsubstantiated accusation Sanford makes, bordering on defamation, is that the Postal Service is a “criminal enterprise,” dealing “with racketeering.” Actually, the United States Postal Service is one of the most trusted companies in America. For the fifth straight year, the Ponemon Institute rated the USPS number one of 74 agencies as the most trusted company for privacy. The Postal Service is the only delivery company to place in the top 10. 

Preposterous opinions without the basis of facts remain just that—preposterous. 


Kim R. Fernandez is a district manager for the U.S. Postal Service.