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Cutting back on U.S. postal services — yes! And no!

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I'm as torn as an opened envelope.

Sen. Bob Casey’s office sent out a news release Saturday saying he and a bipartisan group of 48 other senators are urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from consolidating up to 82 mail-processing facilities nationwide. The move would eliminate up to 15,000 jobs in 2015, the release says, and would include the Lancaster post office (as well as Erie’s and Scranton’s).

Casey (D-Pa.) includes the full text of the letter he and his cohorts sent. It makes some good points, such as these:

“While a number of reform proposals have been introduced in both the Senate and the House to tackle these problems over the past several years, we have yet to enact legislation. In the absence of Congressional compromise, the Post Service has proposed more sweeping changes to its operations.”

“The Postal Service has already consolidated 141 mail processing facilities since 2012. As the postal network has weakened, service delivery has suffered ... (and) it has been more difficult for the American public and small businesses to receive mail in a timely manner.” (I know I’ve noticed it takes three to four days to get mail that once was delivered the next day. In fact, we’re still waiting on a card sent for my daughter’s 11th birthday, which was July 14; it was mailed from Elizabethtown on July 13).

The news release also makes some audacious claims, such as this one in the letter:

“We respectfully request that you include language in any omnibus appropriations legislation or continuing resolution that would prevent the USPS from closing or consolidating any more area mail processing facilities during Fiscal Year 2015. ... This one year moratorium will give Congress the time it needs to enact the comprehensive postal reforms that are necessary for the Post Service to function effectively in the future.”

And this one in a quote from Casey:

“The facilities in Erie, Scranton and Lancaster serve communities that have increasing demand for post services.”

I called Casey’s office this morning to find out his source for that information. I haven’t received a reply yet.

Regardless, a few facts are indisputable: The postal service is bleeding money. Prices continue to rise as demand slows. Demand has slowed because technology that has existed for decades has replaced many of the services the postal service used to provide (email, online bill paying, etc.), and that technology is not going to go away.

In the business world, that’s a no-brainer. It’s time to cut back — on jobs, on locations, on services offered. Stem the financial bleeding, then determine how much service the market truly needs.

But if I were running this business, Lord knows the last thing I’d want is to wait for Congress to decide what my next steps should be — especially when its members haven’t been able to compromise on anything related to me in years.

Then again, losing 15,000 jobs over 37 states (according to Casey’s release) is a giant cutback with widespread ramifications economically. I don’t know that I can say I wholly endorse the USPS’ plan because, without knowing the inner details about what drove this suggestion, it seems over the top to me.

A Journal Multimedia colleague once said to me that business decisions that some of us agonize over every day (such as firing an employee) are mere trifles to others, who have to decide whether to fire thousands of people in one fell swoop.

So I understand your agonizing over these cutbacks, Sen. Casey. But it might be wise to listen to what the USPS thinks is best.

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli is the managing editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a question or tip for her? Email her at amy@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @amygulli. Circle Amy Gulli on .

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Comments

Val Nostdahl August 19, 2014 6:23 pm

in 2000, 2001 postal employees paid in extra to their retirement systems under the 1997 budget act for budget reasons only. ( NALC legislative fact sheet)
CBO letter to the honorable Jim Nussle, January 27, 2003
EMA foundation institute on Postal Studies February 12, 2003

postal service is to get lowered payments in to the CSRS, from 32 billion to 5 billion
to be paid back over 40 years due to the overfunding of CSRS.
lobby groups like ALEC /Koch have pull so the ALEC/Koch Cabal pursuing the privatization of USPS for Ups and FedEx, bob Sloan, Vltp.net April 2012, had taken place since 1980
CBO then steps in and PMG does not raise stamp rates causing a false financial crisis for federal budget
the PAEA which give pay per performance bonuses to the PMG gets passed by voce vote so instead of paying 5 billion over 40 years due to overfunded retirement accounts, the USPS is forced to pay in 5 billion a year for over 10 years, or paying 47 billion the prefunding amount.
A manufactured crisis to break the USPS.
APWU 3800 PA library, stress in the workplace article 2008 , how the ongoing violation of the USPS guiding principles are creating a toxic work environment
www.savethepostoffice.com
USPS widows on face book
Community and Postal Workers United on face book

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