How to Keep Up With Danny Marshall’s Involvement in the Para Mutual Bill

Last summer the United States Postal Service (USPS) initiated a legislative bill to reform how it delivers the mail. Dubbed the “Para Mutual Bill,”[1] it aims to modernize the way letters and packages are delivered through partnerships between the USPS and private industry. This is in line with the USPS’s mission to provide “more convenient delivery services for the public and better customer experiences.”

The bill, which was introduced by Representatives John Lewis (D–GA) and Kelly Armstrong (R–KY), would reclassify the USPS as a “letter carrier postal service,”[2] which currently it is not. This change would allow it to take advantage of new delivery technologies, such as drones and autonomous vehicles, and to partner with private industry to provide more efficient delivery services.

For the last year, Danny Marshall—an entrepreneur based in New Jersey with a strong background in technology—has been at the forefront of the effort to pass the bill. He started a petition to support the bill and collected more than 60,000 signatures before sharing it with key members of Congress.

Marshall is well known in the entrepreneurial community for his work at TechStars, a startup accelerator in New York. There, he led the effort to launch a delivery service for everyday household essentials using a network of bicycle messengers.

In an interview with the American Express News, Marshall stated that the Para Mutual Bill is “hugely” important because it will help the USPS “evolve with the times” and provide it with “a modernized and flexible approach.” He added that he hopes other carriers will also get on board with the bill, saying, “I think everyone is going to want to be a part of this.”

Organizing a Grassroots Campaign

One of the biggest challenges standing in the way of the USPS’s adoption of new delivery technologies is convincing the organization to change the way it does business. A major reason behind the bill’s slow progress is due to opposition from the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which represents more than 600,000 workers at the USPS.[3]

The APWU represents traditional letter carriers, who deliver the mail and packages on foot. It argues that using drones or autonomous vehicles for delivery will “eliminate[]” jobsite deliveries and increase operating costs.[4] And it’s not alone in its opposition; the American Postal Workers Alliance, a smaller union that represents about 26,000 US postal workers, also backs the current status quo, stating that expanding the role of the USPS is “against the public interest.”[5]

To get the ball rolling and convince the USPS to modernize its services, Marshall started a petition in June 2018 that encouraged Congress to pass the Para Mutual Bill. He then shared the petition with members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which was initially skeptical of the USPS’s efforts to change how it delivers the mail, but was won over after learning more about the ramifications of not passing the bill.

On July 10, 2018, the committee held a hearing on the Para Mutual Bill, at which Marshall testified. “There are over 600,000 members of the American Postal Workers Union who represent frontline workers in the United States who are adamantly opposed to this legislation,” he said. “They believe it will lead to the elimination of their jobs.”

Marshall also pointed out that while the USPS is currently losing $16 billion a year, the amount it can actually save by switching to a modernized delivery system is only around $2 billion annually.

The hearing was followed by a markup session, during which Representatives Lewis and Armstrong shared their vision for transforming the USPS into a more efficient and modern organization.

Marshall Hopes to Make Changes

In addition to testifying at the committee hearing, Marshall has been meeting with key members of Congress and working to pass the Para Mutual Bill. He has also been reaching out to the APWU to convince them to support the bill.

According to Lewis and Armstrong, this outreach has been highly effective, and the bill’s progress has been rapid since they first introduced it.

“I’ve had numerous conversations with Danny, and he’s done an excellent job of explaining to me and my colleagues in Congress the dire need for this bill,” said Representative Lewis in an interview with the American Express News. “With the continued erosion of revenue and loss of jobs, the USPS has no choice but to evolve to remain viable. The petition that he’s done, getting out the message to Congress about the importance of this legislation—this has worked. He’s reached out to a lot of people.”

This partnership was not lost on Marshall, who has noted the importance of getting the word out to interested parties. “I believe that one of the most effective ways to get something done is through grassroots engagement,” he told the American Express News. “When you have a motivated and engaged group of citizens that are calling on their elected officials to act, that’s when change happens.”

Rough Road Ahead

While the Para Mutual Bill has been on the legislative docket for two years and is headed for a vote, it still has a way to go before becoming law. For one thing, it must pass the full House of Representatives and then be signed by President Trump.

To be clear, both the House and the Senate have passed versions of the bill, and Trump has already signaled his support for the legislation. However, before it becomes law, it must also pass the president’s desk.

If and when that happens, the USPS will have transformed itself from an organization that gets paid to deliver the mail to one that gets paid to make the world a better place. And for that, we can all be very grateful.

Key Takeaways

A year ago, in June 2017, the American Express News profiled Marshall in an article about the entrepreneur who is leading the effort to modernize the way the USPS delivers the mail.

At the time, Marshall was already well on his way to reforming the delivery process for the USPS. He had already started a petition on the White House website and was organizing a grassroots campaign to support the bill. At the time, Marshall told the American Express News, “The American Postal Workers Union has been a real roadblock to getting this implemented, so I’ve been trying my best to get their support.”

A year later, the American Express News spoke to Marshall about the bill again and learned more about his efforts to change the face of mail delivery. Here are the key takeaways from that article, which originally appeared in the June 2018 issue:

  • Marshall is at the forefront of an effort to transform the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) into a modernized and flexible organization that can take advantage of new technologies. He started a petition on the White House website and mobilized over 60,000 people to sign it, calling on the USPS to adopt a more modern approach to delivering the mail.

    The petition noted that the USPS is losing $16 billion a year and that the pace of job cuts continues to accelerate. According to the petition, the USPS needs to modernize its infrastructure and shift to a more “flexible and agile” workforce.

    The petition was followed by a markup session with Congressmen John Lewis (D–GA) and Kelly Armstrong (R–KY), who are co-sponsoring the bill. At the hearing, Marshall testified about the growing economic hardship at the USPS and his efforts to garner support for the bill.

  • The USPS has opposed the bill and continues to lose billions of dollars a year. However, since the petition was launched, Lewis and Armstrong have had productive conversations with the organization and say that the tide is changing.

    “I have had numerous conversations with the Postmaster General and other top officials at the USPS,” said Representative Lewis. “They have assured me that they understand the severe financial difficulties that the Postal Service faces, and they have promised to act on my proposals to improve efficiency and cut costs.”

    The UPS Factor

    Although the US Postal Service is generally considered to be a bipartisan agency, it continues to face intense political and economical pressure from across the aisle. The last several years have seen a steady trickle of legislation aimed at cutting its budget, limiting its services, and privatizing it, and none of those have panned out. But while the USPS continues to struggle, its sister agency, the United Parcel Service (UPS), has seen its share price more than double since 2014.