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The United States Postal Service has long lived on the financial edge, but it has never been as close to the precipice as it is today: the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its finances. “Our situation is extremely serious,” the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview. “If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Donahoe has been pushing a series of painful cost-cutting measures to erase the agency’s deficit, which will reach $9.2 billion this fiscal year. They include eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers, nearly one-fifth of the agency’s work force. The post office’s problems stem from one hard reality: it is getting squeezed on both revenue and costs.

As any computer user knows, the Internet revolution has led to people and businesses sending far less conventional mail.

At the same time, decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office’s costs. Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees. Missing the $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30, intended to finance retirees’ future health care, won’t cause immediate disaster. But sometime early next year, the agency will run out of money to pay its employees and gas up its trucks, officials warn, forcing it to stop delivering the roughly three billion pieces of mail it handles weekly.

Fed Ex is horrible and UPS mercilessly beats their drivers*. I’ve always thought that USPS has done a good job…at least until recently. That said..where will we get the money to bail them out? Maybe..we need to rob a bank or two.

*sarcasm – (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a UPS driver that wasn’t busting his butt.)




  1. Uncle Patso says:

    The conservative consensus seems to be that the way to improve the economy is to cut everyone’s pay.

  2. Taxed Enough Already Dude says:

    Moot question, Obama’s multitrillion dollar porkulus he will announce in a joint session, will save the unions…or his election when the Tea Party rejects it, and he blames them for the double dip.

    Don’t worry Dallas, your welfare check is safe.

  3. Yankinwaoz says:

    Let the USPS go bankrupt in order to break the union contracts. We did it with GM and Chrysler. Then drop weekend service, and raise the price of stamps to 50 cents.

    How are other countries dealing with their postal systems? They must be in the same boat the as the US. I’m sure their citizens are using less and less mail as more and more goes online.

    I don’t have any sympathy for our old USPS. They can’t deliver the mail. They are slowest people on the planet. It takes them a minimum of 20 minutes to deal with each customer. What the hell takes so damn long? If I have to go the post office at lunch I know it is going to take over an hour of watching the slowest humans on earth go through their motions.

    Near LAX is a station that I had the unfortunate luck of having to use. No joke. I thought the employees were statues. The two women behind the counter could not have moved slower if they tried. It would take them 10 minutes to to turn around.

  4. Justthefacts says:

    Excuse me, I am a postal spouse.On insurance-We do not have dental or vision in with our insurance and the options are more expense than paying out of pocket. Our insurance has less coverage than most coal miners,IBM,Motorala,federal prison emplyees, Eastman, Dupont and most hospital employees. The shortfall is contrived. By Congress decision the USPS is not permitted to have a profit. It is supposed to “balance”. And the non union employees are forced to pay a ridiculous amount into a retirement plan that seems to be available to USPS for other uses. They have made cuts at the post office levels, but not to upper and mid management. USPS hid profits to screw employees out of raises.(That was proven by investigation for 2008-2009 years). USPS works with UPS & Fed Ex to assist with deliveries “last mile” program where packages are taken to post office & mail persons deliver them with mail. Just the facts. Pick on IBM,Motorola, Dell,Federal Prision and your County employees.Our county bus drivers have better benefits than USPS!

  5. Yankinwaoz says:

    #11 Ah_Yea said…
    Did you notice that Washington Examiner editorial you linked to was written by Rep. Darrel Issa?

    This is the same Darrel Issa who the NYT profiled recently has managed to greatly line his own pockets greatly by mixing his business interest with government contracts. He is not above wasting tax payer dollars and abusing the power of his office.

    So I don’t really put a lot of credibility in the crap that comes out of this man’s mouth.

    http://tinyurl.com/3tu3xwz

  6. Miss Bea says:

    I work for the Post Office and in our station they’ve eliminated many routes and now because of the FSS Machines, we only spend 1 hour in the office preparing and 7 hours in the field. We have no extra people and people have lost their routes. About 20 years ago the union agreed to have concessions for lay-off so USPS can lay people off. We are going into contract negotiations so I am not sure if some of the doom and gloom is because of that. It’s a good paying job but we pick our health plan and mine costs me about 500 a month. And I’m in the old retirement so I need to work 40 years and 11 months to get 80% of my highest 3 years. It is a physical job and many carriers need hip or knee replacements.

    I think they should offer an early out like Ford did so younger people can have a good paying job. The government should LOWER the age of Medicare so more 50 and 60 year olds would retire and there would be jobs for young people.

  7. bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo? says:

    Miss Bea–80%. Thats a good deal. I’m jealous. Not jealous enough to wish I had worked for the PO for 40 years, but still jealous. All jobs should be like that==or whatever society can support. Thats what Soc Sec is supposed to be all about====PORTABLE RETIREMENT PLANS.

    80% seems a bit high. 1200/month from Soc Sec seems a bit low. I wonder which lie I have overly bought into?

    How many of your co-workers would you say are Teabaggers?

    Heh, heh.

  8. rick says:

    Blame Congress. The USPS isn’t supposed to make a profit at all, just break even. With the rollercoaster economy doing that is pretty difficult. In the good times the USPS was criticized by Republicans for making too much money off sponsorship of the Olympics.
    Now that the USPS is on the skids (like everybody else!), the Republicans of course want to get rid of it altogether.

    Enjoy your FEDEX letter, which will cost you $60 to mail to europe while the USPS still can do it for $1.35.

  9. Miss Bea says:

    Bobo-I really don’t know how many are Tea Party people. 41years and 11 months is a long time to work, especially the older you get. The winters are brutal and when we’ve gone to arbitration during contract talks, we can use UPS and FedX as examples for pay.
    I really think that USPS provides competition. We don’t even get credit for delivery parcels, our daily job is based on mail volume.
    The supervisors waste a lot of our (USPS) money with giving people with over 30 years letters of warning for minor things. I doubt UPS uses this approach.
    It’s totally changed from when I started. But this new approach doesn’t seem to be saving USPS.
    I don’t know where all the money has gone-I fear someone is stealing. We are running our unit on a skeleton crew so I know it’s not the branches that are wasting money.

  10. bobbo, does art follow or lead culture? says:

    #69–Miss Bea==I support the USPO and social welfare in general, so I’m on your side. But let’s parse for the niggles:

    Bobo-I really don’t know how many are Tea Party people. /// Well, just an opportunity to express your opinion on experiences with people who may be against paying taxes because they work so hard. I’ll bet there are a few in management? Or maybe not at all. Doing actual hard work can knock some common sense on relevant issues into almost anyone.

    41years and 11 months is a long time to work, especially the older you get. //// Yes. Sad that so many others have to work their entire lives for much less in return.

    The winters are brutal and when we’ve gone to arbitration during contract talks, we can use UPS and FedX as examples for pay. /// Interesting. apples to apples or do you cherry pick? I’m thinking your retirement far out matches your competition. Defined benefit vs defined contribution. Tell me it ain’t so?

    I really think that USPS provides competition. We don’t even get credit for delivery parcels, our daily job is based on mail volume. /// Mail or parcels: just a correlation to how many man hours are needed. Or are you telling me you are paid by the piece?

    The supervisors waste a lot of our (USPS) money with giving people with over 30 years letters of warning for minor things. /// Like what?

    I doubt UPS uses this approach. /// More likely they simply get fired.

    It’s totally changed from when I started. But this new approach doesn’t seem to be saving USPS. /// Read this thread. USPS by law is not allowed to “make” a profit. The PUKES are out to destroy any working person especially in government service. The actual work and service has nothing to do with it.

    I don’t know where all the money has gone-I fear someone is stealing. /// Always possible. At 44cents a letter and Bulk Rate, its not where the money is going, its why the money is not coming in.

    We are running our unit on a skeleton crew so I know it’s not the branches that are wasting money. /// Correct.

    xxxxxxxxxxx

    Only an idiot will argue the USPS is not a valuable service. Just compare the cost of sending a first class letter. End of discussion.

    See Net Flix.

  11. cableknight says:

    Both of my parents both work for the post office. “Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees” is a load of BS. There health benefits suck more then mine do and I work for a school district. Plus USPS has over paid the government retirement system by $50-75 billion.

  12. Glenn E. says:

    I can’t help but think that much of the PO’s problem stems from its deal with the devil, the junk mailers. Most of what we receive is still junk mail. My father passed away two and a half years ago, and he still gets mail from Readers Digest, Publisher’s Clearing House, and every Republican politician that wants campaign money. Telling them he’d dead, doesn’t appear to deter them much. The junk mail just keeps a-comin. And they all enjoy a special cheaper postage rate. Because they clog the system with more of their mailings, than anyone else. Well why not get rid of that?! And make some more money from those who do the most mailing? Stupid USPS thinks their junk mailing clients will all flee, if they can’t get that cheap rate. Or the USPS officials are on the take, from these outfits. And have a mutual financial incentive for maintaining the cheap rate. And I wouldn’t count Congress out of the graft possibility, either. Where there’s a payoff, they’re bound to be a US Congressman involved.

  13. NotAmerican says:

    USPS = Unionized Spam and Postal Service

    99% of people don’t use snail mail anymore.
    USPS needs to die already.

  14. kida says:

    “…too big to fail… that’s like too fat to diet…”
    ~ Robin Williams (Weapon of Self-Destruction Tour)

  15. Joe says:

    New response to an old thread…

    I’ll debunk all of this one issue at a time:

    Unions. Yes, the unions are responsible for getting the employees decent pay for decent work. I worked overnight in a Processing Center for 15 years. It was demanding and time sensitve. Two of us ran a macjine that processed 160 thousand letters on average every night. Factor in 2 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute unpaid lunch and that breaks out into more than 20 thousand letters an hour. You tell me if that’s a good deal.

    Pension:

    Until 1984, all employees were in the Civil Service Retirement System, which was a pretty good Defined Benefit Plan. After Jan 1 of that year, all newly hired federal employees were put in the Federal Employee Retirment System. That system is made up of a small annuity, social security, and the largest portion is a Defined Contribution Plan that is pretty much a 401K.

    Health benefits:

    Basic Coverage that costs postal employees between 15 and 15 percent of the premium. All other feds pay 28%. Dental and Vision are extra, if you want them.

    Everyone thinks that feds are overpaid, etc… Why? Are you saying you wouldn’t want a job that pasy more? Why is it OK for a company in the private sector to lose money, lay off all its employees and then crash and burn while its execs bail out with 7 figure bonuses?

    Supervisors:

    The P.O. is the only place where a guy or girl off the street can be promoted to boss after they finish their probationary period (which is a WHOPPING 90 days). Would you like someone clueless coming in and telling you “you’re doing it wrong” after you’ve been on the job 20 or 30 years?

    The unions are not the problem. The REAL problem is Congresspersons who are beholden to the junk mailers and the people who would benefit the most from the Post Office being burnt to the ground. And that ain’t you…

    I transferred out of the P.O. in 2009 after finishing law school, and I am very happy in my new agency.


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