May 4, 2010 in City

Spokane postal workers fight ‘Do Not Mail’ proposal

City Council rejects resolution on bulk mail opt-out registry
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Post office employees are fighting a proposal to allow people to “opt out” from receiving bulk mail.

On Monday, the Spokane City Council rejected a nonbinding resolution asking the state Legislature to create a registry that would allow people to decline bulk mail.

Spokane Postmaster Karen Fairlee and several postal workers testified against the idea, as did a few owners of local print shops.

“The business of mail impacts this community’s employment, commerce and government,” Fairlee said. ” ‘Do not mail’ is not as simple as it sounds.”

Locally, one-time City Council candidate Donna McKereghan has led the charge for the concept. In March, she asked county commissioners for their endorsement, though they haven’t yet voted on the idea.

Supporters say junk mail generates significant waste and that little of it is recycled, especially in Spokane, which does not offer bulk mail recycling at the curb as part of regular trash service. (The city does offer curbside mixed paper recycling, including for bulk mail, for an extra $6.13 a month.)

McKereghan told the council Monday that “Do not mail” is about consumer choice.

“That’s what capitalism is all about,” she said.

Letter carriers argued that the idea would hurt the already struggling postal service as well as businesses that depend on mail marketing.

“We’re talking about a lot of jobs, not just postal service, but also in the private sector,” said Martin Mueller, branch president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

The resolution was sponsored by Councilwoman Amber Waldref.

“I just hate to see that our postal service is attached to a model that surveys show that customers are not satisfied with,” Waldref said.

But the council solidly rejected the idea, with only Waldref voting for it.

Waldref, who used bulk mail to advertise her candidacy for City Council last year, said in an interview after the vote that she would be OK with it if political campaign advertising had to comply with a “Do not mail” registry.

Councilman Steve Corker argued that bulk mail is especially important to older folks who haven’t adapted to technology and don’t use the Internet.

He added that bulk mail supports many jobs and is used by small businesses to generate customers.

“The reason I can’t support this proposal right now is because I’m one of those people over 40,” Corker said, adding: “I don’t think this is the time to send this message because of our economy.”

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