U.S. Postmaster General John Potter asked Congress on Wednesday to lift the requirement that the agency deliver mail 6 days a week.
Potter pointed out that a reduction of the delivery schedule would not be expected to occur immediately if it occurs at all. It just gives the USPS the freedom to explore this as an option.
According to studies, we may have to get used to not checking our mailboxes on Tuesday which traditionally is a slow mail flow day.
Just how much would this save the USPS?
Of course, Potter shared only the factors out of the Postal Service’s control: ‘the series of tubes’ known as ‘the internets’ and the economic meltdown.
I’ll delve into my thoughts on this later in this post.
What else did Potter refer to in his plea to Congress? Based on the formula in determining the increase in postage rates (based on last year’s consumer price index), the USPS could see a 2-cent increase. Potter believes that a larger increase would turn more people towards electronic correspondence.
The popular target these days (look at the Big 3 automakers focus on retirement spending) is of course paying health benefits for retirees.
Let me point out that I only symbolically care about 6 day delivery. I’ve been known to forget that it is Sunday and I’ll absent-mindedly check the box. I also have to make a mental note on the many federal holidays when there is no delivery.
That said, the majority of my mail includes bills, garbage, ads, credit card offers, realtors. Occasionally I’ll get something I can use like a magazine or . . . well, a magazine. So if they choose to deliver mail to me once a week, I’d probably be fine with that.
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As a former postal employee (I left over 17 years ago) this issue is still near and dear to me. Employee morale, motivation and emotional stability were definitely a problem when I worked there.
– Someone threatened my life because I talked to a woman with whom he had a crush. A co-worker had her life threatened by someone who had definite emotional problems as well as an incredible weapons collection. She ended up transferring to another city.
– I’ve seen people perform slow-downs because they were in bad moods and when it was pointed out to them, they threatened to call a shop steward.
– Partly because of these deadwood employees as well as poor management decisions, there seemed to be more overtime called than was required. Based on my experience, many managers held that title for reasons other than qualifications. Training also seemed to be lacking so when the mail volume changed, the supervisors were ill-equipped to handle the required snap decision.
Here are a couple of thoughts I have as to the reduction of delivery days (though I would be against the change):
– If carriers work 5 days a week but delivery is scheduled for 6 days that means that there is a floating carrier in the mix. A reduction of delivery days to 5 would theoretically eliminate 1 person for every 6 routes.
– Of course if the trucks are only on the road 5 days instead of 6, there would be a 16% reduction in gasoline and wear-and-tear on the vehicles.
– If the postal service institutes a rotating day reduction – in other words, some areas lose Monday delivery and others Tuesday and so on – they could even reduce the number of vehicles they own.
– As I eluded to, mismanagement and employee deadwood does not play a factor – at least not publicly. Something must be done in order to improve the production from low effort employees. It was a tough thing back when I worked there and I’m sure it is still difficult today.
If you find yourself in New York City around 8th Avenue and 33rd Street, you can see the General Mail Facility and the words etched into the building:
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat of day nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”
If you look closely, it doesn’t say anything about economic downturn.