grim post office news & a PSA

‘US Postal Service takes major step toward privatization’, Shuvu Batta, 22 July 2020, wsws.org

“Management at the United States Postal Service (USPS) has taken a big step toward privatization with the July 10 release of an internal memo stating that mail deliveries would be delayed due to cost cutting and a subsequent directive prohibiting overtime and promising “more to come.”

The first memo, titled “Pivoting to the Future,” declared, “Right now, we are at a critical juncture in our organization and must make immediate, lasting, and impactful changes in our operations and in our culture. This operational pivot is long overdue and today, we are talking about the first step in a journey we must take together, for the health and stability of the Postal Service.

“The initial step in our pivot is targeted on transportation and the soaring costs we incur, due to late trips and extra trips, which costs the organization somewhere around $200 million in added expenses.

“One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that—temporarily—we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks (in P&DCs), which is not typical.”

COVID-19 and the economic devastation it sparked has further accelerated the crisis of USPS, with former CEO Megan J. Brennan telling Congress in late May that without support it would run out of cash to pay its over 600,000 employees by September. Brennan requested $75 billion in financial assistance from Congress. No assistance was given, however, and the USPS is surviving off of its remaining cash reserves and a $3 billion loan from the US Treasury, placing it further in debt.

While the Postal Service decays, it is also under increased pressure from its competitors, namely Amazon and United Parcel Service (UPS), which have recorded record revenue and are under the process of expanding their logistics networks after increases in shipments have left them with surplus revenue.” […]

The move to cut workers’ overtime is part of the US capitalist class’s decades-long drive to dismantle USPS, a public entity that occupies a valuable portion of the logistics industry.

According to its website, the USPS handles 48 percent of the world’s mail volume, generated $71.1 billion in revenue in 2019 and—if it was fully privatized—would be number 44 in the Fortune 500 list of the world’s largest companies. This is a massive source of profit that the financial oligarchy is attempting to take over completely. This was outlined clearly by President Donald Trump’s 2018 plan calling for the privatization of USPS either through the launch of an Initial Public Offering on the stock market, or sale to an existing company.”

[the 2018 link: ‘Trump proposes to privatize the US Postal Service’, Hector Cordon, 26 June 2018.]

“The drive to fully privatize the USPS started in 1970. President Nixon transformed the postal service from a department of the executive branch into a public corporation in a move that provoked a powerful national strike by postal workers. In the 1980s, the postal service was cut off from federal funding, and in 2006 it was obligated to fully fund retirement obligations and benefits up front, beginning its budget crisis. This year, major Trump donor and former Wall Street executive, Louis De Joy was installed as the new Postmaster General, and has continued this decades-long sabotage by announcing the end of overtime and delays in shipping.

“Privatization of the USPS would effectively end its universal service obligation to deliver mail to all residents and businesses in the US.” […]

“According to USPS, its peak number of full-time postal workers was 797,795 in 1999. By 2019, it was 496,934, a reduction of over 300,000 full-time employees. While USPS’ total number of employees today is about 650,000, about 20 percent work part-time and are essentially low-paid and disposable.”

Buttah blames the 4 postal unions for having sold out, but a few commenters object, saying that when there are disagreements, issues go into binding arbitration.

Will Vote by Mail become Vote by Fedex?  Or Vote by Amazon Drone?

Noteworthy History:

July 27, 2011: ‘US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here’s a list.’

September 25, 2013, ‘Sen. Diane Feinstein’s Husband Selling Post Offices to Cronies on the Cheap’, Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism:

EastBayExpress, via publishing a section from a new e-book by Peter Byrne called Going Postal (um, sadly the same as used by Mark Ames for his important book on workplace shootings), tells us how the husband of powerful Sen. Diane Feinstein, Richard Blum, is feeding at the Postal Service privatization trough. Blum is the chairman of C.B. Richard Ellis (CBRE) which has the exclusive contract to handle sales for the Post Office’s $85 billion of property. Bryne summarizes the finding of his investigation:” […]

“There’s more damning detail in the book extract. I strongly urge you to read it in full. This case shows how open our ruling classes have become in stealing from the public at large. And the worst is that even if this story were to get traction, it’s highly unlikely anyone has the guts to cut a super powerful couple like Blum and Feinstein down to size.”

See also: savethepostoffice.com and standbyyourmail.org

Save the Post Office has long had suggestions as to how to save it, including the creation of Post Office Banking, as some nations have.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

The Public Service Announcement

Now I can’t say whether or not this has anything to do with Trump’s Crony New Postmaster General Luis de Joy’s memo above, but we’d recently sent two large boxes of first edition hardcover books to a friend in Florida.  They were packaged and sealed well, addressed both on outside labels and inside the cartons, each weighed about 17 lbs.  I’ve never had to make  claim on a package, but reckoning they were each worth upwards of $500, we insured them for $250 each…just in case.  PO media rates (which includes books) are low, and the PO labels ID’d them as such.

The first box arrived ahead of schedule, but it was empty.  My friend sent me photos of the top and bottom, with the bottom carton flaps folded inside, the tape cut, then ripped off, and a sticker on the top noting it had arrived empty.  So I began looking into the long process of making an online insurance claim at usps.com, and the short story turned out to be:

The insured amount required proof by original receipt or online purchase price, collectibles priced by dealer verification, and so on.

On the other hand, I’d bingled externally and with no date named, had found:

Standard Shipping Insurance

You can purchase insurance coverage for your mailpieces for up to $5,000 in indemnity to protect against loss or damage. Insurance fees are based on the item’s declared value. There are limitations for insuring some products and certain items.

The second box of books was mailed on the very same day and time, 22 days ago…and still hasn’t arrived.  I’ve checked its tracking history, and after its last stop in Denver, it was sent to the Dead Mail Recovery Center.

Yesterday I’d finally ‘bitten the bullet’, and opened an account  at the Recovery Center, tried to fill out every field so that the Recovery Center might have been able to…recover it, perhaps even send it along.

The 'contents' fields to be filled said nothing about media nor books as to contents; the closet thing to paper was: documents.

Last night I got two emails notifying that my claim would be reviewed and decided today; the results would be emailed to me.  WTF?  Of course they won’t pay anything, but I’d far rather have had the scrumptious and more valuable box of books sent to her.  Okay, I did cheat a bit, and had used a large paper book on Navajo weaving and a large David Seals in wraps to fill the box.  Oh, and two small shiny spike deer antlers wrapped in an East Indian silk shawl packed into a plastic bag.  Not exactly ‘media’, but there it is.

You’ll decide, but if I send anything again I’ll use UPS, even though now the closest one to us is 18 mi. away, not open on the weekend.

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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ggersh's picture

for they're only going to lose everything(pensions) eventually so go for it now, I'm sure the people will support them. Also when the effect of the strike hits home, i.e. neither one nor all of AMZN,UPS,FEDEX, DHL will be able to come close to providing the services that the USPS provides.

One more thing once they privatize the USPS the country will fall further into the shithole
of shithole countries

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Yes the DHS’s Ministry of Truth is headed by a weird ridiculous person. Please don’t let that distract from the vastly more significant fact that the DHS has a Ministry of Truth.

Caitlin

wendy davis's picture

@ggersh

strike would be. postal workers are not only worried about voting by mail, but medications by mail, and so on.

i haven't seen any mention of a general strike, but there was an 8-day one in 1970 that started in NYC and spread to 'other cities'.

This strike against the federal government, regarded as illegal, was the largest wildcat strike in U.S. history.[1]

President Richard Nixon called out the United States armed forces and the National Guard in an attempt to distribute the mail and break the strike. and resulted in the
"Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, which dissolved the United States Post Office Department, replaced it with the more corporate United States Postal Service, and guaranteed collective bargaining rights for postal workers (though not the right to strike)."

...from the wiki

but sure they have plenty to lose, even now, and so do we. our wee town's PO has exactly one employee at the counter. the postmaster retired some time ago, and hasn't been replaces. a second woman had a heart attack recently, no temp help to fill her job, though i don't know all the rules involved.

save the PO has this page and petition: Tell Congress: During This Pandemic, Support Our Public Postal Service (guess they had to say 'during this pandemic) with the message and $request for now.

330,000 signatures so far.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

Do they still employ large numbers of deranged combat veterans...?

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.

wendy davis's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

do you have evidence that they have in the past? some sort of combat veteran preferential hiring as with most big city PDs?

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@wendy davis You obviously didn't get my insinuation - isn't that where a certain slang term started cropping up after Vietnam?

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.

Pluto's Republic's picture

@wendy davis

do you have evidence that they have ... some sort of combat veteran preferential hiring as with most big city PDs?

... for a jobs program for the formerly deployed and discharged — left untreated for PTSD..

There was even a Bill passed to enshrine this rotten idea. There are strong recruitment efforts for those leaving the military. The Defense Contractors get the cream of the crop by dangling six-figure salaries to formerly-deployed-soldiers for signing on to secretly deployed US Mercenary Forces. (Actually the government covers those salaries with taxpayer money). Local police forces recruit from the rest, including the shell-shocked leftovers. The Pentagon pays a substantial bonus to local police forces who provide jobs to their potentially brain-damaged discharged. Plus, they get free military equipment and weapons, which was how the military-weapons horror show got started in Home Town America.

It wasn't long before national police demographics started looking crazy. The most damning data were not items routinely measured in studies involving municipal police forces, so it went unnoticed for awhile. This included spousal murder-suicides, pre-suicide family annihilation murder sprees, and spiking rates of police suicides with service-weapons. A closer look pointed to police who had been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan that were pushing the trend. There was never an expose', although I wrote about it — in many places as well as here.

It was clear by the end of the Bush years that the American people were frequently seen as 'enemy combatants' in the eyes of their local police forces. There was some buzz about a connection between the increasing number of police killing citizens with lucrative Pentagon-based incentives for Local Police forces hiring newly-discharged soldiers. When Obama arrived he pulled this program behind the curtain — just as he did with US bio-weapons development — but all these Pentagon programs are still going strong. These programs are good examples of bad programs that enrich the war profiteers while robbing and harming and killing American citizens, who pay for them. The intention and reality of these programs are beneath contempt in a healthy society.

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____________________
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

wendy davis's picture

@Pluto's Republic

i'd asked 'as with big city PDs', though. yes any number of us have written about it, as well as the 1033 program (Balko's the Rise of the Warrior Cop), and obomba reviewing the program, allegedly taking back 'tanks on tracks', keeping tanks on wheels, etc.

but the PDs DO have preferential hiring for combat vets, as they know how to operate the weapons of war. moonbat was speaking of 'deranged combat vets' as post office employees', as far as i could make out.

and one of my concerns about say, minneapolis, ending police, is that the mercenary forces like Xi/acadamei will be hired instead, and policing will be even more barbaric, as vets are trained to see 'the other' as 'the enemy'.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

In France the postal service provides many things: expected mail delivery; package delivery with competition from various package companies, but all competitive; a bank for loans and savings; 4 euro monthly simple mobile phone - basic, but good; checking on grandma, or homebound people for peace of mind for the rest of the family. They are looking into trained technicians to do blood draws then send them toute suite to the labs. They are always looking for services they would be logically placed to provide.

God help us if Macron succeeds in his corporatist drives. His corporate loving subsidies to fossil fuel industries while increasing the cost of car and truck fuel would have hurt independent truckers, agriculture and the rest of us moyens (middle class). Ergo the Jillets Jaunes movement. His disdain is palpable. But they are wearing him down, and he at least is making noises. We will see. On vera.

The last three presidents, Macron, Hollande and Sarkozy (now up on corruption charges) have come in under the cloak of socialism but international corporatists all. The French are watching. And we have the same ham fisted treatment of protesters, which is being fought in courts. The not so subtle attempts to separate police, which have strong unions and often march with protesters, from the civilians, is aimed at an us and them dynamic. Not good.

France is behind, but tracking along the path the US has travelled. We can only hope the French will see it is important not to wait to be upset and to make the rejections of the future seen by corporations and leaders like these unlikely.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

@Dawn's Meta about when Macron will be up for reelection, and knowing he can't do all those highly unpopular policies by himself I'm curious about the chances of successfully ousting key Macron supporters, if not the majority, in the Senate and the National assembly.

Also, what percentage of those in Parliament are the 'opposition' to Macron's policies,and is it possible in the next election that they could form a majority?

An often mentioned quote says... 'in France the Govt. fears the people, in the US the people fear the govt.'. With France's history of social movements,and in the present with the Yellow Vests, to their credit I believe that about the French people.

That's why I have more faith in a positive change in France, not so in the US where the people's fear of the govt. is well founded so I'm not that optimistic but I do have a glimmer of hope right now with all the protests across the US.

However,unfortunately all the protests in the US have a very good chance of being smothered under 'identity politics', and symbolic gestures like focusing on tearing down statues, or renaming sports teams, and products, but doing nothing to change the system responsible for it in the first place.

Thanks for any and all information on the scene in France.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@aliasalias Each president gets a five year term and can have a second. This is the last year of Macron's reign. And yes the president is close to a king for the term of office. Lives in Elysée Palace. Has sweeping power by decree.

He just got rid of Edouard who was in the polls more popular than Macron. How it works is the opposition gets the PM role, and that person chooses the cabinet ministers of this and that. The president has to deal with a clear opposition or a coalition. This is what the French call the gouvernement.

What one president applies the next one can completely revise. Certain sectors over the years have been privatized or brought back under government control. Right now the trajectory is toward more and more privatization.

France is in an odd position: both a good friend with Merkle/Germany and somewhat regarded by the 'Northern' countries as something like Greece,Italy, Spain - southern countries who go into debt and need austerity to pay back the banks first. The EU is a financial institution which has no government structure but seems to exist to keep banking whole.

Your last questions about the National Assembly, I will need to do some research. It's not like the US where at least theoretically the Congress should balance power with the executive and the judicial.

Hope this begins to answer some of your questions. I am now curious about the balance of power with the NA. I'll probably look to Wiki first.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Dawn's Meta's picture

@aliasalias French government works.

How the French government works.

More extensively, Wiki does not disappoint.
Wiki French government

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

wendy davis's picture

@Dawn's Meta

but mr. had returned with groceries from 18 mi to the west of us, and we had many tasks to complete.

yes: macron: Trump's poodle.

and it's tragic, really, given all you say that french POs can do, and are looking do. my e-friend in (then) switzerland said much the same: a natural fit for so many helpful functions.

guess i've been following save the post office since about 2011 when obomba had closed what was it, 3700 POs and sold them off? and so many of them that Mr. DiFi sold had the breathtaking (and often political WPA murals) crimes against humanity, i'd call their selling.

indeed, just because a Party has socialism in its name, it signifies nothing but... bullshit virtue-signaling.

OT, but mr. wd's report from shopping in what edward abbey had called 'the shithead capital of dipstick county, colorado' included a small (but valiant) BLM walk, s well as a huge stream of honking pickups flying amerikan flags, and a few unknown to either of us: black and white strip