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?
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.”
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:
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)