By Neil Kuvin
There is a plan out there to close 250 post office processing plants, on top of plans to shutter 15,000 of the nation’s 32,000 post offices and slash 225,000 postal jobs. Those of us in the publicity, PR and promotion business may be exceptionally handicapped if this were to happen. I am guessing this may do nothing but hasten the Postal Service’s downward spiral. Fortunately, recently we learned the “plan” has been put on hold.
Thoughts: Until the Post Master General & President Obama get together on this crucial decision, maybe The Postal Service should reduce the $12 billion worth of business its outsourcing to private companies. Postal employees could do much of that work. Slower delivery times, making people travel further to a post office, and eliminating Saturday delivery will force people to seek alternatives like private mail companies and the Internet. Revenue declines will accelerate, necessitating even deeper cuts, until there’s nothing left to cut. And it’s all so unnecessary.
The so-called “crisis” we’re witnessing is a manufactured emergency; a strategy of “shock and awe” designed to finish the job started in 1970, when the Department of the Post Office was turned into a government agency that was supposed to act “like a business.” The ultimate goal seems to be privatization (or at least “liberalization”) of the postal system, the path taken by many European countries. The biggest advocates of the current push to downsize are stakeholders in the bulk mail industry — for whom lower U.S.P.S. operating costs mean lower postage rates — and other businesses (like FedEx, UPS and pre-sort companies) that stand to gain a bigger piece of the mail industry pie.
It seems the way to save the Postal Service is for the President and Congress to consider a major overhaul of the requirement that postal employees pay $5 billion a year to pre-fund retiree health care benefits for the next 75 years. Let’s see a return of some of the $75 billion surplus that those workers have paid into their retirement funds, and give the Postal Service the opportunity to expand its products and services — particularly those that will benefit the vast majority of Americans.
We in the publicity, PR and promotion side of business growth & communication deal in a lot of mailings and not just e-mailings; We rely on the Postal Service and private delivery companies to get our mail and our “stuff” to its proper destination.
And rather than rationalizing the downsizing by pointing to “excess capacity,” could the Postal Service reduce its outsourcing to private companies (which now get $12 billion worth of business)? I still feel that much of that work could be done by postal employees.
Radically downsizing the Postal Service will not save the post office — it will destroy it. These heartless cost-saving measures will do irrevocable harm to the families of thousands of postal workers and thousands of communities across the country. Wake up, America. They’re coming for the post office.