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Newsjock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:04 AM
Original message
Postal Service aims to save with independent (non-union) carriers
http://www.fresnobee.com/263/story/34467.html

Urban America has long been the exclusive enclave of letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service.

These workers -- who pledge not to be slowed by rain, hail, sleet or snow -- are instantly recognizable in their distinctive uniforms or vehicles with the steering wheel on the right side.

No longer.

Looking to cut costs nationwide, the Postal Service will now award contracts to nonpostal employees for deliveries in large new housing tracts, usually located on the fringes of cities.

These independent contractors don't get benefits. They drive their own cars. The only sign that they are associated with the Postal Service may be a badge at their waist or hanging from a lanyard around their neck.

... Postal officials say that in a competitive business environment, the move will save the agency money because the private contractors aren't paid benefits and use their own vehicles, among other savings.

Officials said postal patrons will see no change in service levels. But the union that represents the letter carriers says handing over urban delivery routes that have historically been handled by Postal Service employees will mean a drop in quality.
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Newsjock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:06 AM
Response to Original message
1. More -- this is so sad
Majors is a test case for the future. A grandmother who relocated from Los Angeles to be closer to her parents and grandchildren, the former electrician felt the job would give her more free time.

Each day, she comes to the Woodward Park Station post office to gather the mail and load it into her silver Plymouth minivan.

She wears street clothes, and only a Postal Service badge identifies her, though she may in the future wear other identifiable Postal Service items, such as a hat.

She must buy her own auto insurance. If she wants to take a vacation, she must find, train and pay her replacement, who must be approved by the Postal Service.

Majors got the job through a bidding process. Postal officials did not say how much she is being paid.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:15 AM
Response to Original message
2. Isn't this what they did at Walter Reed with such dismal results? Contracting
out, outsourcing?
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Drum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
3. Bad idea!
:mad:

Our gov't is getting out of the accountability business!
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dkofos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:21 AM
Response to Original message
4. And let me guess, the UNION postal workers are not allowed to strike!!
This will eventually cost us more.
Just as privatizing and deregulation ALWAYS do.

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fighttheevilempire Donating Member (183 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #4
13. Yes, you are correct...
My father works for the USPS. It's illegal for a postal worker to strike because that would be seen as prohibiting a federal employee from doing their job, which is a crime. Any striker would be jailed or fired immediately. And a union without the ability to strike isn't a union at all, its a fraternal organization. In some cases I know of locally, the "union" rep is actually a postal manager - no conflict of interest or anything. The last contract that went through for the non-letter carrier employees was a one shot take it or leave it deal. If you didnt like the first offer they gave you, walk. The short story of postal management is that they are intentionally running the organization into the ground. The irony is that they don't realize that all those well-paid management positions will be the first to go if it's all privatized.

And if you think sending mail is expensive now, wait til its privatized.
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dkofos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 02:14 PM
Response to Reply #13
24. Don't they vote for their own Reps??
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blondie58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-11-07 10:59 AM
Response to Reply #13
35. this is absolutely right
I am currently a city carrier in the Denver Post Office and a proud member of NALC branch#47.

The Post Office is supposed to just meet their operating costs and not to make a profit, hence the odd price raises by a penny or two. We are not allowed to make a profit.

This last winter though, we had some very unusual weather for Colorado, which added several hours of street time to the average route and many overtime hours to be paid. Around Christmas, I personally worked ten and twelve hour days, seven days a week including Christmas eve and Christmas.

Usually, our snowfall melts within days after a storm, but not this year. We had drifts for months afterwards. Management is trying to make up their costs and with the current 'pecking order' the highest managers are yelling at the middle managers, some of who yell at the carriers who are actually doing the work.

They are trying to hire more casual workers, who have no benefits and no protection if they are injured on the job. Ironically, we have just hired several people who came from Albertsons grocery stores, who have closed several stores in CO. One young guy who just started was with Albertsons for ten years!

I equate contract workers with people who rent someones house. They have no personal stake, so if the carpet gets damaged, or the grass dies- no big deal. Its not their problem, right?

Contract workers have no future, so are they really going to care whether the mail is delivered to the correct address or if the mail is safe? The answer is a resounding NO. The union is trying to prevent so many jobs from being given to contract carriers, but they are having difficulties. The cost of hiring a permanent employee is much more, with benefits and health insurance, etc.

I agree with you, it seems like management is trying to run the U.S.P.S. into the ground and it would be an American tragedy if the P.O. was not here. Our rates are among the lowest of any industrialized nation. And what would (if they even serviced it?) a private company charge to deliver to that small town in the middle of nowhere.

Added to the tragedy of any privatization would be the postal workers, including many couple who are both employees, who would lose their jobs and livelihoods. Sure, they might be able to get on with the contractor, but at a much lower wage and with worse benefits.
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Born Free Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-11-07 05:00 AM
Response to Reply #4
34. some times the Postal workers must do the work of private contractors,
yet the private contractors get still get paid the same. The private contractors get the bids but if anything goes wrong, they some times assign a postal worker to to the work but the the private contractors still gets paid.For example: if a tractor trailer driver doesn't show up the USPS is not going to let a truckload of mail sit waiting, they will assign a regular postal worker to drive. It's not unusual for private contractors to get the bid to install equipment and the postal service will assign regular workers to "assist". It's hard to understand postal logic at times, they will pay a crew double time plus travel expenses to go to another facility to do maintenance work when the other facility has more than enough people to do the work for straight time. The postal worker unions get weaker every day because of the "open shop" and far too many people will not pay dues if they can get the same pay and benefits for free. More often than not, these "non-dues-paying" postal workers are the ones that also voted for the bush team....
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Pab Sungenis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:23 AM
Response to Original message
5. If they really want to save
They'll cut pay at the executive level.

It's time to de-privatize the post office. Put the Postmaster General back in the cabinet, and have Congress rein them in.
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Bitwit1234 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:25 AM
Response to Original message
6. Trying to knock out another government agency
This administration is doing it's darnest to knock out every single government agency they can. Soon even the presidentcy will be run by corporations...oh. oh...don't you all think that is happening now.
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:27 AM
Response to Original message
7. Eventually the jobs will be given to unregistered residents so to speak
as yet another set of job duties that "Americans can't or won't do". Below minimum wages of course.
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liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:27 AM
Response to Original message
8. Will Halliburton get the mail carrier contract as well?
We are becoming the United States of Halliburton
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SusanaMontana41 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 02:28 PM
Response to Reply #8
25. Aren't we there already?
n/t
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
9. This sucks a lot - the USPS is the best = one day to get a letter from
Seattle to a small town in California. Two days to get one to the east coast.

Now we can look forward to the same kind of service the soldiers at Walter Reed get. The postal workers will get less money for the really tough jobs they do, but the investors in the private FOR PROFIT contractor companies will have another opportunity to fleece the US taxpayers.

"Have I told you today how much I hate these people?" - Mike Malloy
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AwakeAtLast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:38 AM
Response to Original message
10. How is this going to be safe?
My personal mail in someone else's personal car? That sounds like fraud waiting to happen.

Do any other countries do this? Is it successful?
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Precisely. It's a HIDEOUS idea.
In many overseas countries, you pay extra for 'certified' if you want the letter to get there. Especially if it looks like (even if it actually does not) it might possibly contain a cheque or some cash.
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TX-RAT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #10
18. We've been doing it for over 20 years.
All delivery's outside the city or done by contract.
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 12:57 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Yes, that started as a cost-cutting measure for super rural routes.
Rural carriers are paid by average number of pieces, urban carriers are currently paid by the hour. You can bet your bottom dollar that the incidence of "lost" and delayed mail will go up once it's all done by flat rate contractors.
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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
12. No money for the post office but PLENTY for war!
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:16 AM
Response to Original message
14. NO.
Dear god, where will our checks and prizes end up now?
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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:52 AM
Response to Original message
15. There hasn't been a new, carrier-served, mailbox...
Edited on Sat Mar-10-07 11:52 AM by Davis_X_Machina
...for an individual patron introduced in ten years, not in these parts.
Which is why the number of carriers is going down even as the number of households goes up.

All the new boxes are either RFD -- served by contractors since forever -- or gang boxes in building lobbies, or condo-complex parking lots, or at the top of cul-de-sacs.

These are all designed to be served UPS-style, by a single truck-stop per day, without anyone walking a route, because no private company would take over a service that had routes being walked.

It's all going private.

The elimination of the letter carrier has been a long-term goal of USPS since privitization.
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PSPS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 12:11 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. When I buy a house, I tell the realtor not to bother showing me anything...
When I buy a house, I tell the realtor not to bother showing me anything "where I can't get my mail in my underwear." In other words, no vandalism-inviting curbside mailbox, no theft-prone "cluster boxes." I want a mail slot in the house itself where the mail gets inserted and ends up inside my house.

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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. Yes, cluster mail stations are required in new developments.
Edited on Sat Mar-10-07 12:54 PM by Gormy Cuss
It's incredibly efficient for the letter carrier to stand and load 40 mailboxes in a kiosk rather than dropping them into individual mailboxes and as long as customers put up with it, the postal service will continue to make it less convenient to get one's mail at home. I think you hit the nail on the head re: setting the stage for privatization too.


on edit: apparently it's a goal to get everyone to accept delivery at the property line (see report
here: http://www.postalreporter.com/oig.htm )That means that people who lived in gated developments will have their deliveries moved out to kiosks near the gate, and no one will be able to have the mail dropped through a slot in the door no matter what.


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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 09:04 PM
Response to Reply #19
27. I already have to walk a block to get my own mail.
Edited on Sat Mar-10-07 09:05 PM by eppur_se_muova
I live in an apt complex. Mailboxes are not attached to the building, or in front of the building. I have to walk the full length of the building (I'm at the far end, natch), plus the full length of a second building, to get to my mailbox. On one corner are all the boxes for three buildings, having different street adresses. The boxes themselves are not marked with the street adresses (there's a code no., which you can *guess* matches your adress). The boxes for each building are numbered, 1 to 16, but the numbers do not match the apartment nos, even though the apts are also numbered 1 to 16. No one bothered to explain this to me when I moved in; I found out only after I got my mailbox key from the PO and tried it for myself. Either the apt manager or the postal worker could have let me know which mailbox was mine, but neither bothered.

Most of the apt complexes I have lived in, I have gotten the mailbox key from the rental office when I moved in, and returned it to them when I moved out. Here in MD, you have to get the keys from the PO, and you have to put down a $15 deposit. When I moved in, I was told that the guy who handled the keys was on vacation, so I had to pick up my mail at the PO for a week until he could get back and change the lock cylinder. I asked why they didn't change the locks when people moved out, so there wasn't any delay when people moved in (it made sense to me, so I thought ... ). They told me they couldn't do that because people hadn't paid for them yet. :eyes:

Thank goodness corporate bulk mailings are still discounted. :sarcasm:
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blondie58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-11-07 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #15
36. yep, it is called an NDCBU
a neighborhood delivery and collection box unit. Financially, it is more cost effective for the company- at the cost of customer service, imho.

And boy, are they cold to deliver to on a blustery day. No amount of jogging in place can keep you warm- or keep your knuckles from getting scraped by a door flying shut by the wind.

The Post Office has also invested a lot of money into automation. So when you get that errant letter that should have gone to Buenos Aires or some other obscure place, you can thank the machine, as it read the address wrong. It started out with letters, soon they will have flats done the same way.

If the P.O. could hire robots, they would.

And on a positive note, our union magazine is constantly publishing reports on those carriers who have saved an elderly person who has fallen or been injured or helped to put out a house fire. We really do notice when the mail piles up in a mailbox or if someones routine doesn't seem normal. Most of us know our customers by name and we put the mail in the case by their name, not by their address. Usually it is someone not familiar with the route who does so.

Don't ever let the Repubs privitize the P.O.
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dragonlady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 12:02 PM
Response to Original message
16. This is the result of trying to semi-privitize a government responsibility
This is a bad idea, for the reasons already mentioned in the posts above. But the post office's perpetual financial problems come about because of what it is expected to do. It is supposed to deliver to every address in the nation, which UPS and Fed Ex will not do (remote areas, postal boxes for example). The kinds of things that can give it a profit (first-class mail) are increasingly being whittled away by e-mail and on-line bill payments and direct deposit of checks. If the federal government's finances weren't in such bad shape because of Iraq war expenses and tax cuts for the wealthy, we could afford to subsidize the post office to the extent that it could function as the basic delivery service that we really do need. With reasonable fees to consumers and protection for the postal employees. But since the Current Occupant has put us in such a hole, a lot of things that should be done may fall by the wayside.
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blondie58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-11-07 11:26 AM
Response to Reply #16
38. part of the problem
is that the P.O. is just supposed to meet their operating costs, not to make a profit. That is why you see the price raised by that odd penny or two at a time, after a lengthy wait with the Board of Governors.

But I do feel that it is important that everyone in this country has availability to affordable postal services. In some small towns, a post office box is required as there is no delivery service.

Also, the bulk mailings or junk mail are what helps to keep our prices down. If we didn't have them, the price of postage would have to be raised. But anyone who wants to write the https://www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing DMA list to be taken off the Direct Mail Marketing list.

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stonebone Donating Member (118 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
21. bump
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earth mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 01:42 PM
Response to Original message
22. Union busting at it's worst! God how I loathe those evil despicable bastards in power!
:grr: :grr: :grr:

:puke:

:mad: :mad: :mad:

:argh:
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alfredo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
23. Bad for competition. If Joe's delivery service signs a contract with
your competitor to give their mail priority, it will put your business at a disadvantage. If lets say Halliburton, a very republican outfit gets the contract, what will keep them from delaying mailings from Democratic candidates? Sure it is against the law for postal employees to delay the mail, but what about contractors?
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pinniped Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 03:27 PM
Response to Original message
26. Expect more mail to disappear.
deliveries in large new housing tracts, usually located on the fringes of cities.

This shit starts out small at first. You know the rest.
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Doremus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 09:36 PM
Response to Original message
28. This INFURIATES me!
How long before all carriers are contractors? Can you say New York Minute?

We don't outsource enough already -- let's get rid of some more union jobs. I mean it's not like the USPS has a huge reserve (i.e. too MUCH money) or anything. We need to raise prices some more and outsource dammit! :sarcasm:

Those fucking greedy bastards. HOW MUCH MORE DO THEY NEED? WILL IT EVER BE ENOUGH?

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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:16 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. They want to privatize mail delivery, our roads, and if they could...
they would do away with public libraries and public schools.

We should push for a plank in the 2008 Democratic Platform that declares that the Democratic Party will reverse privatization and return public services to the public.
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Dont_Bogart_the_Pretzel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 09:57 PM
Response to Original message
29. I've got a question
didn't the stamp rate just go up? or about to?
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:29 PM
Response to Original message
31. This all worked so great at Walter Reed. nt
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bagimin Donating Member (945 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-11-07 01:37 AM
Response to Original message
32. I'm a carrier
This is more Bushit. It began with Reagan.
These temps have less incentive to be trustworthy with your mail.
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blondie58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-11-07 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #32
39. yep, big govenment is bad
according to those Reagan worshippers.

I am a city carrier and member of NALC Branch #47 in Denver, CO

Hi to another postal family member!
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Hieronymus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-11-07 02:39 AM
Response to Original message
33. I quit using USPS long ago....
Edited on Sun Mar-11-07 02:45 AM by Hieronymus
what with email, online banking, and FedEx, who needs them
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gauguin57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-11-07 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
37. A bag of mail was found in a Dumpster near a PA independent carrier's home recently.
Edited on Sun Mar-11-07 11:29 AM by gauguin57
He was one of only two independent (contracted) carriers serving Lancaster County, PA. He delivered to a relatively new rental-townhouse development. One day, he just decided to quit delivering the mail. A month's worth of the rental-townhouse residents' mail was found in the Dumpster near his house.

I'm just sayin' ...

http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/200444

"... What Graybill had stumbled on was about 200 pieces of mail that police say was dumped there by a mail delivery contractor who walked off the job last fall. Police have filed charges against Frederick S. Reincke, 64 N. Broad St., Lititz, of receiving stolen property and obstructing the administration of a governmental function.

...The mail was postmarked between Aug. 30 and Sept. 20, 2006, and was supposed to be delivered to people who live in Rosewood Terrace, a townhouse and apartment development ...

...Reincke worked for Platinum Logistics, a contractor that works for the postal service. About two of 370 city and rural routes are delivered by contractors, said a spokesman for the postal service. A Platinum official told police that the mail in question was from a route that Reincke delivered and that he had walked off his job around Sept. 22, according to the criminal complaint in the case.

... Court records show that Reincke has had previous brushes with the law, including arrests in 2002 and 2003 for drug paraphernalia possession, disorderly conduct and driving under the influence.
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