Friday, September 16, 2011

The Truth about the USPS "Crisis": A Summary

The lie being told about the US Postal Service’s financial difficulties is that mail volume is down because of e-mail and the Internet. In fact, the “crisis” is an entirely manufactured one. The USPS is under the same kind of attack as the one launched by Scott Walker against Wisconsin public employees: it’s an effort to break the unions and to privatize as much of the USPS as possible.

The Real Problem: 
Funding Benefits for Unborn Postal Workers
The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) requires the USPS to prefund medical insurance benefits for retirees for 75 years in the span of ten years. In essence, the USPS is required to fund benefits for retired workers who haven’t been born yet.

Postage rates on catalogs and other kinds of “bulk mail” are lower than the actual cost of delivery. This was true in 2006 when the PAEA was passed. Nevertheless, a provision in the 2006 PAEA ties postal rate increases to the rate of inflation (rather than to actual costs). Costs have risen faster than the rate of inflation because of rising fuel costs.

Decrease in mail volume is primarily the result of the economic recession rather than use of e-mail and the Internet.

The Postmaster General’s Proposals: 
Cut, Gut, Privatize
Reduce the postal distribution network by more than half, which would increase delivery times by at least 1 to 2 days for all mail, that is, the end of first-class mail as we know it

Close 15,000 “unprofitable” post offices (as if the USPS were a business rather than a service)

Reduce delivery from 6 days per week to 5

Break USPS contracts with the postal unions and lay off 120,000 workers

Reduce the agreed-upon employee retirement and insurance benefits (also a breach of contract)

Lose 100,000 more postal jobs to attrition

The Winners:
The Private Mailing Industry

After the USPS reduces its distribution network and decreases delivery frequency, anyone who needs to send a piece of mail quickly will have to send it via FedEx, UPS, or another private delivery company.

Once post offices and processing-and-distribution centers are closed, they will be sold, undoubtedly at low prices, to private companies, making it impossible for the USPS to recover them or reinstate current service standards.

The end result will be that private industry will have accrued a huge percentage of what used to be the US Postal Service.

The Losers: Workers, Small Businesses, 
Citizens, and the Economy
The USPS has been the second-largest nonmilitary employer in the US, second only to Walmart. In the last 4 years, the number of USPS employees has been reduced by 110,000, plus another 20,500 so far in 2011. This doesn’t include the 120,000 layoffs Donahoe wants to make or the 100,000 more jobs to be lost to attrition. That’s a loss of 350,500 out of 645,000, well over half.

Any jobs that are added to private industry as a result of picking up the slack from the USPS’s decreases in service will be lower-paying, lower-benefit jobs (a la Walmart).

A loss of this many good jobs when the US economy is already embattled will be a huge blow to the middle class and a further widening of the enormous gap between the fabulously wealthy and the rest of us.

“Unprofitable” post offices are scheduled to close in many remote rural areas and in many low-income neighborhoods. In rural communities, the area post office often serves as the center of community life.

Real Solutions
Passage of HR 1351 (which has more than 200 cosponsors from both parties) would allow the USPS to use money it has overpaid into its pension fund to fulfill the PAEA prefunding requirement.

Adjustment of the prefunding requirement so it’s more reasonable.

Make the Postmaster General and the Postal Board of Governors step down and investigate them for malfeasance, gross mismanagement, and dereliction of duty.

Sign the Petition at Change.org
Don’t let the USPS be destroyed: http://www.change.org/petitions/dont-let-the-usps-be-destroyed.
The petition will be sent to Congress on Sept. 27, 2011.

Further Reading
The mainstream media are repeating the lies and misinformation being spread by PMG Donahoe and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform). Only a few sources are reporting the truth:
Save the Post Office, by Steve Hutkins: http://www.savethepostoffice.com/
American Postal Workers Union (APWU), AFL-CIO:http://www.apwu.org/
National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC): http://nalc.org/
Truthout, “Postal Workers: The Last Union,” by Allison Kilkenny:
http://www.truth-out.org/last-union/1315492298
OpEdNews, “Destroying the Postal Service in Order to Save It?”
by Chuck Zlatkin, Legislative and Political Director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union: http://www.opednews.com/articles/Destroying-the-Postal-Serv-by-Chuck-Zlatkin-110905-492.html

Further Questions
Who exactly is behind the deliberate destruction of the USPS?

Who inserted the provision that the USPS prefund retiree health benefits for 75 years and what justification was given for it? Did Congress even know about it?

Who is on the Postal Board of Governors and what are their ties to the private mail industries that will benefit most from the demise of the USPS?

12 comments:

  1. Thanks, Mary, that is quite a piece of work!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Ron! I put this together so that I could take copies to the Fighting Bob Fest this weekend in hopes of finding members of Congress (Tammy Baldwin, Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders) and investigative journalists (John Nichols, Matt Rothschild, Jim Hightower, Greg Palast) to help us get at the whole truth, broadcast it to a wide audience, and initiate action to save the USPS before it's too late.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd like a list of members of the Postal Hierarchy, the Postal Board of Governors, and members of our elective bodies who will benefit personally if the USPS is privatized. I think we're at the sunset of a long-planned event. The question is "Who will ride off into the sunset?" Will it be the hard-working, long-suffering employes and the public, or the wealthy "entrepreneurs?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your good questions! We will do our best to find out and will post our findings here on the Worley Dervish.

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://www.savethepostoffice.com/perfect-storm-how-everything-coming-together-take-postal-service-apart

    http://www.savethepostoffice.com/how-save-postal-service-it%E2%80%99s-too-late

    ReplyDelete
  6. Savethepostoffice.com is a great source of information. Those are both great articles. Thanks for posting them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks so much for posting this. Postal management has been busy putting out their missinformation, it's time for the working class to get their message out. We are under attack!! Big business and the GOP are out to bring down our unions and profit from our hard work. We must educate the public about our delima a strong middle class is absolutely necessary for the health of our country. It seems to me that people just don't care to take the time required to look into the facts. Where is our humanity?

    ReplyDelete
  8. You're very welcome. It's overwhelming how the media just pick up the misinformation and don't bother to do any investigating of their own. I spent much of Friday and Saturday talking with people at the Fighting Bob Fest here in Madison about what's really happening. Tom and I talked with Thom Hartmann (one of the only journalists to get it right), John Nichols, Greg Palast, Tammy Baldwin, Dennis Kucinich, and Mary Bottari at the Center for Media and Democracy (http://www.prwatch.org/users/35270/mary-bottari). I gave each one of them a printout of this post. We desperately need more allies to help us get the truth out.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well, this is the half truth. Yes, it is wrong to prefund the future "if" the funds are just dumped into the same Social Security Congress that gives our money to foreign aide. The main issue is the "RAPE" of the USPS by the multi-levels of Postal Management giving each other Bonuses in the Billions!!! They call it "Pay for Performance" although they give it out for failures. The Post Office needs to getaway from the excesses and focus on delivering the mail. The BIllions going to 007 wanna-bes in the nspection service, billions into perks for VPs ,Area, District free cars, credit cards, and offices. OMG wake up America!

    ReplyDelete
  10. WE NEED A LABOR MEDIA OUTLET TO EXPOSE MAINSTREAM MEDIA MISINFORMATION.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The main issue right now is that the postal management is planning to permanently take away USPS's ability to provide first-class service. They're doing this in the service of the plunderers and privatizers who are the circling vulture corporations. USPS management didn’t invent the idea of worshiping random numbers and rewarding themselves when they’re good, punishing subordinates when they’re bad. They learned this from private industry and the business schools that feed it.

    The change in 1971 from US Post Office Department to USPS, to function “more like a business,” changed the goal from customer service to profit for “stakeholders,” increasingly meaning only the private mailing industry. Once USPS reduces its processing and distribution network to the point where it can provide only third-class service, it will lose to FedEx and others the remaining first-class business that provides the revenue to support the money-losing catalog and other bulk mail business that will be all that’s left. The demise of the USPS, which is really what we're looking at here, will affect every single person in the United States.

    ReplyDelete
  12. http://www.savethepostoffice.com/ is a really good source of information about what's really going on with USPS.

    Former APWU president William Burrus has written about USPS excessive discounts to mailers:
    http://www.apwu.org/news/burrus/2009/update21-2009-091202.htm

    --TomRW

    ReplyDelete