by Wayne E. White, Director of Retirees
The North Carolina Letter Carrier
Everyone is aware of the financial difficulties facing the Postal Service. Many factors have played into this problem, especially the technology advances of the past decade: the advent of e-mail, on-line banking, business contacts, etc.
It’s highly unlikely there will be a large return of first-class mail to the Service. However, to blame the slow demise of the Postal Service on the electronic age would be to ignore the facts.
Let’s examine some hard, indisputable facts. The problem began in December 2006 under a Republican president (George W. Bush) and Republican Congress. An amendment was attached to legislation requiring the Postal Service to fund retirement benefits for the next 75 years. This had to be paid in the next 10 years.
President Bush signed the legislation into law. There has been political speculation as to why this legislation was necessary. The Postal Service had always met its retirement obligations. Or, perhaps, there is a political conspiracy by corporations to eventually take possession of the Postal Service. The Republicans were very aware that the Democrats would assume leadership in both Houses of Congress in January 2007.
The question must be asked, where was the outcry from former Postmaster General John Potter or other top postal managers that the legislation would eventually cripple the Service? Why the silence? Did postal managers have lockjaw?
This legislation imposed a heavy burden on the Service.
And then came the economic slowdown. Many of our customers curtailed their utilization of direct mail to all Americans. There is no more effective means of advertising than direct mail. Curtailment of this type of mail had an adverse impact on the revenue of the Service. The Service could have met its financial obligations with little problem had not Congress placed the retirement benefits burden on the Service.
The public is now witnessing the dismantling of the Service: Post offices are being closed, consolidation of city and rural routes from one office to another, etc. Window hours have been reduced, encouraging our customers to seek alternate sources. Savings alleged by the Service are highly questionable.
Career employees have been reduced in all crafts. Many career retirements are replaced by temporary employees (TEs) or casuals. These employees have little chance of becoming career employees.
Implementation of high price technology may bring future savings, but one would wonder. The financial security of the Service is not guaranteed. The Service’s future would be a lot more secure if Congress would enact legislation to remove the retirement burden. But don’t hold your breath—you may die from lack of oxygen.
Should the Postal Service cease to exist, it would place the blame where it began in December 2006: a Republican Congress and a Republican president launched a frontal attack on the Postal Service.
There has always been those who have wanted to privatize the Postal Service. Should this occur, there will be no cheap mail service.
The Postal Service is a labor intensive organization. A downsizing of the Postal Service is an attack on organized labor. The Service is a highly unionized employer. All of us have a stake in the survival of the Service. We must work together to stop the dismantling.