Something near and dear to me was in the news last week. My mail.
Well yes, I did work for the United States Postal Service for 30 years. But, I am retired so the changes won’t affect my job or work week. It will, however, affect my mail.
1. News Flash: not everyone uses email or even has a computer. Or wants to pay their bills or send birthday cards online. Headlines are quick to say no one will miss getting mail on Saturdays. Then I read the article and reporters have not bothered to venture out of the city limits to ask rural customers, especially elders who aren’t as mobile. Then there’s me, the first of the Baby Boomers. There’s a bunch of us, bringing trends of expanded home services.
2. Reporters have not watched UPS and Fed Ex trucks come by the back docks of post offices, city and rural. Some days there are over a hundred packages for our small office alone. These are delivered by USPS letter carriers. The Postmaster General is saying parcels will continued to be delivered six days. If mail is gearing down Friday night, how many packages will be taken out into high mileage rural areas on Saturday. Are they running the whole delivery system for packages—and post office box mail? Oh, and who is going to deliver the packages (hopefully No. 3) and oversee the PO boxes (probably No. 4).
3. I did not read reporters interview employees who most often carry rural Saturday mail. These Rural Carrier Associates are part time employees, no benefits, no health insurance. (City carriers have a similar position). My neighbor and friend is working as a RCA, has worked for nine years actually, hoping to move into a full time position vacated by my former coworkers retirements. She and thousands of others will now find that time investment all for nothing. And, will it be cheaper to pay full time employees overtime to get the same amount of mail delivered as it did the part-time employees?
4. Did any of those reporters speak to high paid mid management types about whether they had even touched a piece of raw mail in the past month? The USPS is unbelievably automated. Just how much management does it take to tell carriers how to do their jobs or oversee post office boxes.
5. Somewhere buried in the middle of these news stories it sometimes mentions the fact that the USPS has to prepay millions of dollars toward their employees’ retirement fund. Money I suspect the Federal government is dipping into to finance their own deficient because no other Federal program is required to pay ahead in this way.
6. Finally, I cannot end my little soapbox without wondering if this isn’t about the big “P” word—privatization. The USPS has already privatized a huge part of its organization. In western Kansas, or any other sparsely populated area, rural routes are carried by contract carriers. The practice was even moving into more populated areas when I retired. Distribution centers, maintenance, probably many other places I don’t know about, are now contracted out. Given time, with continued internal austerity, including retirements, the USPS could fit into a trimmer, more efficient work force—with six day delivery.
Elimination of Saturday delivery hurts the customer, me. And, there will be the same amount of mail. Out here where rural carriers get no help with their mail, no matter how much, Monday delivery will be late, very late.