3/11/2011

U.S. Postal Service Facing Bankruptcy?

It was reported earlier last week that the U.S. Postal Service could run out of money by October. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told the House Oversight Committee that the Postal Service will owe the government $5.5 Billion to provide money for medical costs for future retirees. In November, the Postal Service will have to come up with another $1.3 Billion for Worker's Comp. Now, it's not like the USPS hasn't been cutting costs and the payroll. Last year they cut $3 billion and have cut 240K employees over the last few years. Still, they are losing money hand over fist. Losing money is nothing new for the USPS. They have historically run up vast debt, only to make a rebound and pay it off. That hasn't been the case for the past two years. I worked for the Postal Service (one of my many haphazard jobs during the early part of my life) as a Part-time Flexible, with flexible being the keyword. It was a job I both loved and hated at the same time.

There are, believe it or not, many good, hard working people in the USPS. Many enjoy their job, work hard and put in an eight-hour day. But, there are not enough people like that in USPS, unfortunately. There is constant strife between management and labor, causing expensive EEO complaints to be filed and processed. Labor costs account (when I was there) for about 75% of USPS expenses. That is unreal when your payroll takes up that much of your cost of operation. Management, for the most part, is made up of anti-social, functional illiterates. It's the good old boy system gone wrong, seriously wrong. Instead of working together, they seem to work against each other. That is a shame. They are highly paid ($25-30/hr for senior personnel). But, the job they do is what most unskilled people do for about $8.00/hr in the private sector. The public service unions are as much, if not all, at fault for the money woes of this organization. I know the public unions are a favorite whipping boy right now, but it's true.

In short, it does not surprise me USPS is facing bankruptcy. No, they will still deliver the mail, they will still pay their employees and pay their contractors. But, the government won't be getting their money unless the feds fork over another loan to USPS. It seems that this is a never ending problem. It is like a sink hole that keeps getting wide and deeper no matter how much "dirt" you shovel into it. USPS is a 18th century business trying to survive in the 21st century. It's not going to happen. I find that sad in many ways. The post office is the lifeline for many small towns in America. Sadly, those small post offices, along with the end of Saturday delivery seem to be on the horizon. I hope USPS can get it's act together before they are shoved into the dustbin of history. But, I am not optimistic USPS can change its ways after being in business for well over two centuries.


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