Starting in early August, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will likely end Saturday mail delivery. Depending on how things go with Congress and stakeholders, the USPS plans on retaining six-days-a-week package deliveries. It means packages will continue to be delivered on Saturdays, but no more first-class letter mail on Saturdays (post offices will be open six days a week).
The USPS six-day package, five-day mail delivery plan comes as no surprise considering the fact that for years the USPS has been losing considerable sums of money. Last year it lost not just a few million in revenue, but a gigantic $15.6 billion.
“The Postal Service is losing $25 million per day and must close a projected $20 billion gap by 2016 or risk becoming a long-term burden to the American taxpayers,” according to a USPS spokesman.
The delivery plan attempts to revive financial solvency to a beleaguered organization. As almost everyone knows, the Postal Service is still trying to survive with snail mail in a technologically advanced communications age. Many people, after all, still hold the stereotype that the post office is hopelessly prehistoric. But with about 500,000 employees and a fleet of 212,000 vehicles, it still has thousands of pieces of automated equipment and modern technology in its army.
The USPS has had its lion’s share of other problems. Since the 1980s, certain disgruntled postal employees began coming to work armed with angry revenge, using their current or former postal workplaces as shooting galleries, which gave birth to the slang phrase “going postal.”
It took awhile, but USPS chieftains had an epiphany on the causes why: Maybe workers were being overstressed, overworked and abused by slave-driving management. Postal workers were reacting in the worst possible way to their supervisors’ management methods. Certain former and current postal workers began going postal. Obviously, overwhelming stress makes people explode. And when people are pushed beyond their limits, they react often in anger.
Once a benign environment to work in, the post office turned into scenes of bloody massacres, even though better management methods were supposedly instituted. In fact, according to Wikipedia, from 1983 to 2006, in 20 separate postal shooting incidents, retired or current employees killed a total of 42 workers and wounded 20 (except one Citrus Heights postal worker didn‘t kill anyone else, only himself in front of his coworkers in 1992). Half of the malcontented killers ended up committing suicide.
In any event, it’s a good idea for the USPS to change to a six-day package, five-day mail delivery work week. But some lawmakers say not without their okay. In effect, some congressmen argue that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe doesn’t have the authority to put his plan in place unilaterally. They’re right. The USPS is subject to congressional control.
On the other hand, some in Congress want to delay Saturday mail service for at least two years while it tries more aggressive cost-cutting measures. As it stands now, the matter is before the agency’s board of governors.
But it’s not just snail mail, going postal and stereotypes that’s damaging to the USPS. Other reasons exist. Whereas most businesses thrive by getting more customers, it actually financially hurts the USPS to service more customers, which results in higher expenses. With roughly 11 million addresses to deliver mail to, it can run into quite a bit of money. According to a USPS spokeswoman, “it takes tens of billions of dollars a year and 300,000 people, or 60 percent of the agency’s workforce, just to handle mail deliveries.”
In addition, a mailman has to still deliver even if it’s only one letter to only one address, which eats up time, energy and money. The USPS is exploring more cost-cutting ways to simplify delivery. Many businesses, apartments and some housing subdivisions have cluster boxes that centralize delivery. More need to be installed to save the USPS money.
The USPS hopes the economy will improve so people will have more money to shop online. The volume of packages will increase, which will greatly help their unprofitable enterprise become profitable once again. But Federal Express and UPS have already taken a lot of business away from the USPS and can only continue to do so in a more healthy economy.
In 1775, Benjamin Franklin founded what has since evolved into today’s postal service. It would be unthinkable to see the demise of such a valuable, necessary and historic American institution. The USPS needs resuscitating. So, let’s have five-day mail delivery. It will help the USPS survive.
David Briceno lives in Grass Valley. He used to work for the United States Postal Service.
In 1775, Benjamin Franklin founded what has since evolved into today’s postal service. It would be unthinkable to see the demise of such a valuable, necessary and historic American institution.