Are Half A Million Postal Service Jobs At Risk?

USPS workers jobs at riskThe government is facing a default.

The summer showdown over the federal debt limit was caused by politicians, but one agency is in fact confronting an authentic inflection point - the United States Postal Service. As the New York Times reported on September 4, the USPS does not have enough cash on hand to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month.

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"Our situation is extremely serious," the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, told the Times. "If Congress doesn't act, we will default."

The September 30 deadline does not implicate the entire service of federal mail delivery in America. Rather, it represents a firm date for retirees' health care financing. And as serious as that is, a true countdown to Armageddon suggests that the agency will literally halt service on the three billion parcels it delivers weekly sometime in early 2012 if no action is taken.

In the face of such a daunting climate, the USPS has been making a last-ditch effort to cut losses and reorient the independently run agency for the digital age. As was originally reported in the Washington Post, Donahoe has been championing a plan that would see the closure of 3,700 postal locations and the firing of 120,000 postal workers. An end to Saturday delivery would also be called for. The plan, announced in a workforce optimization draft, was drafted in light of losses totalling $20 billion over the last four years. In that time, mail volume has dropped 20 percent, the Post reports.

The USPS could be particularly difficult to reorganize. A no-layoff clause is already in place with the agency's unionized workers. USPS workers are also the beneficiary of handsome health and retirement benefits, which Donahoe has also suggested pulling back on. And as a report on thejobmouse.com reports, labor costs represent 80 percent of the agency's expenses, as compared to 53 percent at United Parcel Service, and 32 percent at Fedex.

Congress opened hearings Tuesday about an overhaul of the USPS. In statements gathered by the Hill, the spokesman for USPS is primed to push back against Donahue's plan.

"The Postal Service, having been engaged in several years of cost cutting, has become like the man whose only tool is a hammer," Guffey says in testimony obtained by The Hill and to be delivered before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "To him, everything looks like a nail."


Filed under: Employment News, Layoffs
Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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biggeeman3

I worked 34 yrs as a letter carrier,paid into my pension, health bens. and all the dedutions. I do not receive SS checks. the pension I get barely gets me thru the next month. Thank goodness I worked for these.The main waste of money goes to upper MGT. not employees, MGT gets bonus money for breaking our balls. They are the people that do not add to productivity or lift anything except a pen. They stand on the floor stareing at the hard workers and harrase us. They also do street supervision in A/C cars and ask why we are not further ahead. For the folks who have not worked for USPS you have know clue what really goes on in the inside. I could write a book about my exp. If you want too know ask your letter carrier they would be glad to tell you.

September 21 2011 at 9:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carol

I work for the Post Office... for over 23 years now... My retirements benefits from the Post Office right now would be $1018.00 a month before taxes and paying for health benefits and survivor benefits. My health insurnase does not include dental, eye glasses and a lot of other stuff.. Co pays are also paid for everything. Where people get this idea of great retirement and health benefits from, I have no clue... They should have asked actual post workers before making statements. We haven't had a raise or cost of living increase in over three years, yet the cost of living continues to go way up and yet, management still gets their big bonuses every year. We are finally getting a cost of living increase in March and our next raise is scheduled for a year from November and it is a big .75 percent. No Mail Delivery on a Saturday is not a cure all and may create further problems. Mondays are bad days... as carriers have to deliver two days worth of mail.... Add a third day to that and it makes it even worse... and the twelve days a year when we have a Monday holiday and there is no mail delivery.. they will be delivering four days worth of mail.... One thing that was discussed but never followed through on... and would be a much better solution.. is to close all the small post offices... the ones that close for lunch... that only have two or three employees... Then "rent" out a post office at a mom and pop store... a gas station.. a small business.. charge them $100.00 a year.. train their employees to sell stamps.. ship packages, etc.. use the equiptment from the closed post offices... wouldn't cost the Post Office anything... they would actully be making money and people in that area will still have access to a post office... We did this years ago and I went down and trained their employees. It worked out great until the owner retired and the store went out of business. The employees from the closed post offices could be used in the larger Post Offices.. Extend the hours of those Post Offices for better customer service... instead of 9 to 5.. got for 7 to 8 and work out a schedule that would include those employees. There is also too much management in the sectional centers... a lot of them just stand around all day... do an audit of what they actually do.... and get rid of the access. Let them take lower jobs as people retire or leave... There are a lot of ways to help the Post Office get financely solvet... The right people are not being asked... Ask a regular Postal Employee... they would be more then willing to help if asked...

September 20 2011 at 10:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rpmakeit2

It's about time someone can start adding. Typical Obama,USPS boss sees the need to get rid of workers because they don't have the work or money but Obama has a plan that will cost us money (not his) maybe Congress can save us from this guy and his spending ways.

RP

September 20 2011 at 10:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rpsr4

HHHMMMMM, The USPS is the only employer in the country required to pre-fund it's employees retirement fund, paying $5.5 Billion off the top every year. An audit by The Office of The Inspector General's division has found that The USPS has OVERPAID somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 Billion into this fund. Yet they are not allowed to use any of that surplus to make next year's pre-funding payment. The reason ???? The Federal Government uses that $$$$ to try and balance The Federal Budget. No one, I repeat no one else in this country is saddled with this financial burden !!!!! PS $5.5 Billion times 4 years equals $22 Billion. A $2 Billion profit over the last 4 years. Wake up Congress !!!

September 20 2011 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dukie97

The article says, "Labor costs represent 80 percent of the agency's expenses, as compared to 53 percent at United Parcel Service, and 32 percent at Fedex." UPS and Fedex do not have to deliver to nearly every house like the USPS does. If they did, they would need a lot more people and more trucks. I wanted to send a small package (less than a pound) to a city 30 miles away today. It was going to cost over $7.00 UPS. I mailed it and it cost a little over $2.00 and will get there tomorrow too. UPS and Fedex do not have the regulatory controls that the USPS has on it- I'd like to see them deliver a package for $4.70 priority! An overnight pkg from NH to TX costs over $50.00 UPS and $18.00 by Express Mail.

September 20 2011 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bkjonesphx

As a former postal worker , i am appalled. Why not use a small e-mail tax from what-I-consider-spam e-mails to fund the post office?
The health insurance is not that great. I had a sixteen mile walking route and foot care was not covered. The uniform allowance paid for about one good pair of shoes per year. The job was physically and mentally demanding.
Newer and current employees make less per hour than I made in 1980. They still work hard, but many are not as bright.
Recently, my po box was rented to someone else while i still had it paid for.
Getting mail delivery to a new business address took at least 6 weeks.
its in the constitution to fund this service. tax e-mails and spam and get it funded

September 20 2011 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
blimkingsunshine

I realize how hard all the carriers work and in the sometimes extreme conditions. Let us not forget the people in the P and DC's. The people behind the scene, that process the mail and some of the poor conditions we work in as well. The public never ever could imagine how hard MOST of us work to get the mail from one destination to there front door.

September 20 2011 at 9:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tjv1201

I have been a letter carrier for the last 24 yrs.I have given my lifes blood for this company.GENEROUS BENEFITS my @#$,we pay 30% of our health benefits,try and find ANY organization that makes their employees pay that much.Do you call 30% of your pay when you retire GENEROUS?I live in New York,I cant live on 100% pay how can we live on 30% after 30+ years of service? The american people need to know we break our butts everyday in all kinds of weather for peanuts.Carrying mail for a living is taxing on your body,your knees and ankles take a pounding and thats not even mentioning what it does to your back.I am a city carrier,so I have walked to deliver door to door everyday.Management is overpaid and couldnt do what we do on a daily basis.Most have never even carried mail so what qualifies them to tell us what to do and how can they show how to do it?We dont get any incentives for all we do,but management gets incentives to harass us.Congress forcing to pre fund the retirements is ridiculous.WAKE UP ALL YOU CRITICS WE GIVE AMERICA OUR BEST EVERYDAY.DONT believe ALL you hear and all you read!

September 20 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Mama

Let's give the politicians the same retirement we Postal Workers get and see how they like it.

September 20 2011 at 9:15 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
hsylves

What is the big deal about stopping Saturday delivery. Issue and order that effective a certain date there will be no more Saturday delivery. That's it its done. Then elimiate the postal unions. Reduce the USPS staff 10%. If the Postmaster, or what ever you want to call him, cannot made the decesion to close on Saturdays, them let him go and find someone who can. He is getting big bucks for making decesions. Maybe his salary should be cut in half.
Henry Sylvester

September 20 2011 at 9:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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