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News U.S. Postal Service on the Verge of Collapse

  1. Sep 6, 2011 #1
    What's this?


    They have 650,000 people on the payroll (1 person serving every 461 Americans). One would think at least a few of those 650k have the training and smarts to figure out how to restructure the post office so that it's in the black like the other delivery services out there.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2011 #2
    I can't remember the last time I sent any mail. I sent an big envelope last month, but that was through fedex. USPS will need to cut back, that is obvious. Just the sign of the times. I support removing sat service for one thing.
  4. Sep 6, 2011 #3
    Their union agreement was extended through 2015 back in May 2011.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...ntract-ratified/2011/05/12/AFrpFNyG_blog.html

    Now a large payment is due to retirees.

    "In a Senate hearing that once again rang an alarm bell on the dire straits the US Postal Service is in, US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the institution is on “the brink of default.” He also told Congress that without legislation by Sept. 30, the Postal Service would default on a mandated $5.5 billion retiree health benefit payment due this month.

    Mr. Donahoe told Congress that unless lawmakers enact emergency measures, the Postal Service (USPS) could shut down entirely this winter and completely run out of money to pay salaries and contractors by August or September of next year"


    My question - with deficits of almost $9Billion - why did they extend the union agreement prior to evaluating the system?

    ""The Postal Service is running out of money," according to Steven Greenhouse, labor and workplace correspondent for The New York Times. "It's operating at a deficit of $9 billion which is a whole lot of money." Unless Congress takes emergency action soon to save the Postal Service, officials say they could run out of cash by the end of this year, or next year.

    A large part of the problem is that the Postal Service simply hasn't been able to adapt to competition from the internet, Greenhouse reports. Instead of sending letters, people send emails. Instead of receiving magazines and newspapers through the mail, people have starting reading more online.

    "Mail volume has plunged in recent years by 20 to 25 percent," Greenhouse told PRI's The Takeaway, and postal revenues have gone down at the same time. The Postal Service, according to Greenhouse, is "having a hard time cutting its cost as fast as its volume and revenue drop."

    Now, Postal officials are trying to cut costs by as much as $20 billion or 30 percent in the next four or five years. One of the proposals is to end Saturday mail service throughout the United States, but some have strenuously objected to that. Congresswoman Susan Collins from Maine brought up the fact that ending Saturday service could seriously hurt rural Americans."


    How can ANYONE expect Congress to fix this mess?
  5. Sep 6, 2011 #4


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    Huh? The post office? What do they do?
  6. Sep 6, 2011 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    USPS is required to pre-fund the retirement accounts, like a business, and unlike most other governmental bodies. Additionally, the USPS has a no-layoff contract, and to reach the staffing levels they would like to be at today for the volume of mail carried, they need something like 12 years worth of attrition.

    One proposal is to relax the first restriction, and allow the USPS to continue to operate, drawing down the pension surplus. The other proposal is to end the no-layoff provision and reduce the letter carrier/letter ratio to where it was 2 or 3 years ago.

    As you might imagine, each proposal has its advocates.
  7. Sep 6, 2011 #6


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    First Class mail used to subsidize other forms but doesn't any more AND the P.O has to keep open lots of small rural P.O.s that would NEVER be tolerated by a totally for-profit corporation.

    At the very least they're going to have to drop Sat deliveries and possibly another day as well, and they are going to have to close lots of small P.O.s

    I hear folks pissing and moaning all the time about how poor the services is but I think that's total BS. For 44 cents you can stick an envelope on your front porch and have it show up all the way across the country in a couple of days.

    I've mailed something like 800 packages over the last several years, and had hundreds more mailed to me, and not ONE of them has gotten lost. Even during Katrina, when one of my outgoing boxes seemed to have gotten lost, it showed up (28 days after I mailed it)

    It's a shame the PO is going the way of the dodo bird, but they just don't have a viable business model in today's world. I can't see that ANYBODY is going to fix the systemic problems other than by reducing service. I hope they can hang on.
  8. Sep 6, 2011 #7
  9. Sep 6, 2011 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    They deliver DVDs for Netflix. Duh!

    End the individual home delivery and go to community mailboxes as is done in apartment buildings. This has been done for some time in newer neighborhoods and business complexes. In my sister's neighborhood, each block has its own delivery point. Each community mailbox station could displace fifteen to thirty individual home deliveries.

    Exemptions could be made for the disabled and other hardship cases.

    Then, farm out the neighborhood station deliveries to UPS. :biggrin:
  10. Sep 6, 2011 #9


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    It's amazing that so many parts of the country still have door to door delivery.

    That's a luxury we can can no longer afford. Heck where I live now, the mailboxes are next to the manager's office (4 blocks from me).
  11. Sep 6, 2011 #10


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    OH the Netflix Guy!!! :D

    Seriously, how long did we figure this was going to keep up? We should just cut USPS loose to operate like a real business. At the least it'll accelerate everyones move to on-line banking and bill paying and reduce the paper waste. I mean, in the world of the internet and fax machines, do we seriously need to physically send 90% of things 2000 miles so someone can read it?
  12. Sep 6, 2011 #11
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/205559-how-u-s-postal-service-s-struggles-could-impact-netflix I wonder how much they've been helping to keep the USPS relevent for many? Also, I wonder how much the decline of Netflix due to the recent pricing changes will affect the USPS?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  13. Sep 6, 2011 #12
    You are saying the richest country in the world can't afford a postal system? Really? Who can afford such a "luxury?"

    I'd say at most it could effect about 1.3% of the post offices first-class mail revenue?
  14. Sep 7, 2011 #13
    You're required to file all your posts with them for their approval before posting. Costs about $0.45 each, and if you don't, they're worse than the IRS chasing you down to collect back payments, penalties, and interest on everything.

    The delay isn't long, only about 3 to 10 business days.

    Same here. I get about five things a year in the mail that I need, want, and expect to receive in the mail, not counting Netflix Blu-rays. I get at least two of those a week, and I'm loving it.

    I'm amazed at how much junk mail keeps being sent by US Mail. They comprise 90% of the mail I receive, either by volume or weight. If the USPS is hurting, there's your culprit. Charge 'em what it actually costs to deliver all that crap. I'm willing to bet half of that crap would go away, and businesses would realize it didn't do much for their business anyway.
  15. Sep 7, 2011 #14


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    Does anyone remember the Canada Post strike?

    About the only thing the USPS delivers to my house anymore is paper to be recycled. Which for me is ok, since I have a wood-stove, and I think I heat my home for about a month in the winter from what I collect in the big box in the corner during the summer.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  16. Sep 7, 2011 #15
    I had a thought: Reduce delivery days to one of the following options:

    1. Mon and Wed
    2. Mon and Thu
    3. Tue and Thu
    4. Tue and Fri
    5. Wed and Fri

    By spreading these out evenly, it would reduce the miles USPS has to travel by more than 50%, as well as the time they spend travelling those routes.

    As for objections on the volume, simply cancel advertising/business, and bulk rates on mail. That would force most folks to drop the tree-burning waste.
  17. Sep 7, 2011 #16
    I would be completely unopposed to a more central mail system whereby they just deliver it to the post office location. Then people can go and pick up their mail.
  18. Sep 7, 2011 #17

    Vanadium 50

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    The problem is not that the Post Office has too much to do - and therefore must curtail deliveries - but too little. The mail volume, and thus revenue, have fallen, but payrolls have not, and cannot.

    As far as picking up one's mail at the post office, I would be opposed to it. There are at least four post offices closer to me than "mine". In the town I am living in now, the post office on the east side of town delivers mail to folks on the west side, and vice versa. So it's inconvenient for everyone.
  19. Sep 7, 2011 #18
    The new union contract INCREASES payroll by 3.5%, allows a 30 hour week to be considered "full time", and guarantees 40 to 44 hours per week to some. This agreement was ratified in May 2011 and extends until 2015. How can a Government entity losing over $8Billion per year (that owes a $5Billion benefits payment) be allowed to enter into such an agreement without Congressional approval in advance? The hands of reformers are tied before the discussion begins.
  20. Sep 7, 2011 #19

    Vanadium 50

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    It's nice work if you can get it.
  21. Sep 7, 2011 #20
    Perhaps the (general delivery - junk mail) home delivery should be outsourced to the local newspaper carriers - they work cheap? It would keep them afloat and allow the USPS to greatly reduce staffing - perhaps use the same people to sort mail 3 days per week and deliver 2 days per week.
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