A coalition of organizations representing commercial and nonprofit mail users petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to issue a stay preventing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from increasing postage rates Aug. 29.
The National Newspaper Association (NNA) appears as an intervenor with the News Media Alliance.
“We were shocked that the Postal Service decided to implement such dramatic postage increases just as the economy is struggling to reemerge from the COVID shutdowns,” said NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications in Cordell, Oklahoma. “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.”
The motion for a stay is the second attempt to halt the rates, brought in a lawsuit challenging the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) authority to allow rate increases beyond the inflation-based cap in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. Before the USPS announced the August increase, the mailers’ groups had asked for a judicial stay, but they were turned down because the size of the rate increase was not yet known. Increases of nearly 9% are ahead for periodicals and 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 to the publishing world were Yankee Publishing, Consumer Reports and Multi-Media Channels in Milwaukee.
Oral argument in the appeal is set for Sept. 13. Unless the court grants the stay, the postage rates will go into effect before the court makes its decision about the PRC’s authority to allow the increases. Once the increased-rate money is spent, the USPS cannot refund it.