Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slowly Going Postal?

No, I’m not going on a rampage – not today anyway.

I’m wondering about the United States Postal Service.

In the eight years I have lived in NJ I have never had any problems with my mail service. My regular mail carrier is the greatest guy, he’s on time, he’s friendly, he knows his route, he’s helpful.

Stuff goes out, stuff comes in.

In the past 2 months all of that has changed.

There seems to be a new carrier every other day.

A package sent to me from NY was misrouted to San Jose, CA. It left NY on 3/24, arrived in San Jose on 3/26 and hasn’t been heard from since.

Makes me think of that Dionne Warwick song – ‘Do you know the way from San Jose?’

On April 4th I sent an order form to a company in upstate NY. Yesterday I called to check on my order – they never got it. The customer service rep said many orders from NJ had not arrived.

I sent a birthday card to Brooklyn. It took 12 days to get there.

My brother in Brooklyn sent me a letter; it took a week to get here.

My accountant has decided to use UPS – too many tax packages were being delayed.

This is all anecdotal and as a researcher I know that anecdotal evidence carries little weight. But it makes me wonder.

I did several Google searches:
USPS service delays
USPS job action
USPS work slowdown
Postal workers
Postal workers union

The most entertaining thing I found was a story about a cat in the Mid West. The cat sleeps all day except for the few moments each day when he awakes to terrorize the mail carrier.

I found the usual array of right wing sites demonizing the unions and the government. Comparing postal service to healthcare. Calling for privatization. Barking about big government.

I’m a union Mom. At one of my very first jobs I was part of an attempt to unionize the workers. We lost. I lost my job.

I also found some blogs and forums written by postal workers. The stories of mismanagement and budgets being played with and numbers being hidden and misrepresented were all too familiar to me.

I worked for a large corporation. I was on the board. We spent more time playing with the numbers and screwing the staff than we did on providing the services we advertised.

If I ever had to take a side my side will always be with the mail carriers. I know there may be some who are lazy, who are con artists, who have no motivation. That is humanity.

What is not humanity is this country’s continuous shift away from being a society that actually produces anything. Workers used to be regarded as the backbone of any company – now they’re digits on a profit and loss statement, there solely to be played with in Excel. There was a time when loyalty and hard work were rewarded.

Now – not so much.

Just look at Wall Street. Lie. Cheat. Get a bonus.

I will always believe that this ...

has more value than this ...


Anonymous said...

Our post office has been all weird since a year ago. We got a new postmaster and he has shaken things up. The carriers rotate now and sometimes he accompanies them on their routes... why I don't know?

Sorry you lost your regular guy. I always liked the familiarity, too.

Matt-Man said...

The US Mail here is splendiferous since we got our new mailman. Maybe there's a conspiracy against you, Di. If you want, I'll deliver your mail to you. Cheers Di!!

Mrs. C said...

I think the whole thing has less to do with Wall Street and unions and more to do with personal caring and pride. It's hard to get to know people on your route and be really GOOD at delivering to a certain route if they keep flipping people around like that.

We have had the same mail carrier for the 13 years we have lived here. Our mail usually arrives very late in the day as we are toward the end of his route, but it's reliable.

And the mail carrier could tell you what books I order for homeschool and how many bills we get. He knows us and all our neighbours! :)

Trisha said...

The post office in our town is amazingly SLOW but they are friendly. Once you finally get to a window. The postal carriers zoom around in little trucks to our communal boxes (some weird thing that we can't have individual boxes or that would make us "rural delivery!") so we don't get to see him regularly but . . . so far so good!

Daryl said...

As always extremely well said ... and I couldnt agree more.

Jay said...

I'm sure this is Obama's fault. ;-)

The post office has been terribly mismanaged for a long time now. But, their pricing is way below market value. Privatize the post office and you'll get much fewer services for a lot more costs. People would probably be shocked at what it would cost to send a postcard or letter if the post office was a private company.

Sylvia K said...

Great post, Dianne, as always and I couldn't agree more. Lord help us if the post office is privatized! I probably couldn't afford to mail anything to anyone! Other than lousy mail service, hope your week is going well -- so far!


Ron said...

BRAVA, Dianne!!!!!

"There was a time when loyalty and hard work were rewarded."

And I could not agree with you more about every single thing you shared on this post.

And I had to laugh at this one...

"Do you know the way from San Jose?’"


I've certainly noticed the same thing about the postal service lately. It took my mother (in Florida) 10 days to get a birthday card I mailed her back in September.

But what always amazes me, is that the BILLS always arrive on time!!

Great post, dear lady!

X ya!

Martha Z said...

A very thoughtful post touching on things I too have contemplated; do unions abuse their power, does management? I answer yes to both, unions are needed to keep management in check because management thinks only of power and money and not there obligations to workers and society.

Why don't we want fewer, well made things rather than tossing out the old every few years and buying new? What happened to craftsmenship? I know, we've had this conversation before.

Bond said...

I help create and send mail every day of my work life. I used to be one of those responsible for 50,000,000 (no typo) pieces of mail A MONTH. Now I send about 70,000,000 a year.

The post office lives off of mailers like me so that personal mail can be sent for $0.44/each.

Are you aware that within the next 18 months at the latest, there will no longer be Saturday delivery of mail? The post office MUST cut this service out to survive.

Oversize mail (magazines and the like pay a very high rate to get to your door because of the size of machinery used to sort the mail.

I pay an average of $0.18/each for the mail I send out because I make sure it has the best postal sort required and then the local post office does not have to handle the mail, it goes to the carrier in the sequence they do their route. I also use an outside logistics company to move the mail deep into the postal stream.

People complain about the USPS, but go to another country and see how incredible our postal system is compared to theirs.

Linda said...

I tremble when our postman misses a day. It's very hard to bet used to a new post person. They probably feel the same about us.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I am so over the post office here. The end.

bobbie said...

Great post.
Our wonderful mailman retired at the end of last year. We've had a series of people delivering ever since. Talking to them I learned that there is a freeze on hiring, so when one goes, or dies, others have to share the route. They are sometimes recruited from other towns, sometimes far away, so unfamiliar with the route. They bid for a new route too.
UPS and Fed Ex aren't much better. They drop a package and run, without even knocking on the door to let you know it's there.

Linda Reeder said...

Amen, Sister. We've had some recent screw ups with the postal service, but for the most part it seems to be just one driver who fills in for vacation time.
Here in Seattle the garbage truck drivers went on strike this morning against Waste Management, a huge company. Other companies had already settled, but this big company wouldn't offer the same pay and benefits. It sounds like an attempt at union busting again. Someone already asked me it the unions weren't just being greedy. I answered that I thought the greed was on the part of big business and big money, not the workers. I wish them well, and we're prepared to handle our own trash for a while.

Betty said...

You're right, as usual. I think doing away with Saturday delivery is a good idea.

Dianne said...

mrs D - there's a good chance that PO is being evalueated for cuts - that's what I read when doing my research

matt-man - OK, serious first - your new mailman is a perfect example of how important individuals are to a corporation - in my opinion management doesn't get that
as for delivering my mail for me, the next time I order sex toys I'll let you know

mrs c - I was drawing the correlation between mail carriers and financial asshats because I think we, as a society, have devalued the kind of service you describe while celebrating greedy pigs who do nothing put push other people's money around all day

trisha - I have yet to use a PO that wasn't slow
in my Google travels I read a lot about outdated machinery and a lack of up to date training

daryl - thanks lady :)

jay - of course it is! it's part of his agenda to keep the tea party from sending bibles to each other ;)
and you're spot on correct about privatization

sylvia - when they bellow about free market they don't bother to mention how it affects people, I'm so sick of half truths and media spin
hugs from Hope

ron - you always appreciate my one liners, I love you for that
I wonder if the bills always arriving has anything to do with some of the points Bond makes in his comment

martha - yes we've had the conversation before and yes we're like minded
wanna start a revolution with me? ;)
we've become so overly entitled
it's sad and destructive

bond - I worked on point to point research for the UK mail system, they have issues!!
Germany and Sweden have the best systems according to the reading I've done

linda - I wonder if they're shifting carriers around to aggravate the public and turn them against the carriers?
yes, I believe in evil conspiracies :)

noe noe - wow! talk about to the point! ;)

bobbie - I've been reading about the bidding process and it seems full of politics and holes and appears to be grossly unfair

linda r - good for you! as a union Mom, I admire and appreciate you
I think my state, NJ, is going to have huge trouble with the schools and the teachers union
our pig of a governor hates unions and is manipulating the public big time
funny thing is all the people now complaining about him are the ones who voted for him because they decided NJ needed a Republican

betty - I appreciate your confidence :)
no Sat delivery wouldn't bother me but I think it might hurt some businesses

Cherie said...

Like Bond says, bulk mail pays the bills at the post office and those grocery fliers you get in the mail on Tuesday or Wednesday. But so much of the business is going away because people are doing everything online. Why would I pay a bill using a $.44 stamp when I can pay it online for free and not worry whether it's going to get there on time? Almost everything with print media is going digital. And when you think of the savings in paper and everything. So much less waste. I really don't know what the post office can do to combat their problem. Raising postage rates certainly is not going to encourage people to mail things more often. It's going to have to transition to a whole different kind of entity than it is right now. Newspapers and magazines are in much the same position.

gabrielle said...

I think part of it is that workers are becoming demoralized by the uncertainty surrounding their jobs. There are rumors about eliminating Saturday service, reducing payments to retiree funds, trimming the work force. I had a brief exchange with Brian, my letter carrier. He thanked me for ordering so many books so he could keep delivering them. We both chuckled, but it is a weak joke.

What other business comes to your home six days a week regardless of whether they have something to give you or you have something for them to pick up? I think we take the postal service for granted in this country. There is a move to “outsource” everything—police (read security for those that have something to protect), prisons (read profit on those who don't)--you name it. We got a taste of privatization with Blackwater. Resist!

christopher said...

Terrific post!

I criticize Wall Street quite often. But I think both the folks on Wall Street and workers on Main Street have equal value. The tricky part is the seemingly disconnected 'values'.

PS. I live in NY. Had a stint last year when I was getting mail intended for all different parts of the country and never got some of mine. The postal supervisor told me too many of the postal workers were talking on their cell phones while working.

Kay Dennison said...

I understand as the daughter of blue collar union family. I, too had a really awesome mail man for the first 3 years I lived here and could almost set my watch by him. Now I get a different one every other day and I am not happy.

Cloudia said...

You are SO right!

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Post office if we talk about India are the only one and the best among all the government undertakings.They are fast and friendly too !!

ellen abbott said...

I totally agree with you. This country has lost it's compass. Makers are the people who make it happen.

We had the same mail carrier for ever and then he retired. They turned out route into a training route and it's never the same carrier from one week to the next. I like knowing my mail carrier.

the walking man said...

We who worked for some place used to be able to produce our whatever and go home at the end of a shift knowing we earned our pay.

Now we have no place to go to to produce, to make something. Most humans in the production of goods have been replaced with a system of which them who live in an office reading spread sheets are always trying to eliminate more and more of the flesh and blood from that system.

Our mailman has changed four times in the past year, you just get to know one and comes the next. It takes a long time to learn a route scheme which makes me believe that things have gotten computerized enough that no carrier needs to know more than where the street is and the computer does all of the mail sorting and organizing for them. Now it is juts drive and deliver.

Arkansas Patti said...

My sister just retired from the post office. She says they have cut jobs so much that those left can't deliver the same service as before. Those who knew where the keys were are gone and if replaced at all, are replaced by new, inexperienced workers. Not much hope here.

Scott Oglesby said...

I was a Teamster and I’ll always be a fan of unions. Everybody has the right to a living wage.

You’d love the post office here though. You have to pick up your own mail, but only between 10:45 and 11:00am. They are supposed to be open on Saturday but it depends entirely on the state of Paco’s hangover. He’s usually too hung over to open.

Jeni said...

The post office that used to exist in the little village where I live was eliminated back in 1994. Now, we get our mail at one of three strategically placed cluster boxes in the village.
For small towns -like mine -the post office is more than just a place to get and send mail though. It's a mini-town hall, a place where you could see residents from in town, from the outskirts too and if you had a minute or two -or five -you could chat them up a bit, learn how the families here and there were doing, get to know all the town news and then, if you had more free time, maybe even discuss the state of affairs of the state or even the national government. It helped keep the fabric of the village neat, clean, in many ways and 16 years since our post office died a quiet little death, I still miss it -greatly!
As to unions -although I sometimes think of them as "necessary evils" because I don't always like the corruption in the way some of them operate but, to those who hate unions and see no earthly purpose whatsoever for them, if you are earning a decent wage today, even the lowly $7.50 an hour of minimum wage, you can thank unions for trying to bring you along as they fought for better pay and benefits. Would anyone really care to live and work under the conditions that existed for the blue collar people until the unions finally broke through those barriers? I sure wouldn't!

Raven said...

Well said. Our post office here seems to still be running nicely. Of course we are a tiny little town, which no doubt makes it much easier. My mail carrier has to climb two great steep hills to get here, winter, summer, spring and fall. I appreciate her more than I can say.

I agree with you about the way we treat workers in this country. Just look at the mining industry, although that's not a good example, really, because bad as it still is, it's better than it was 80 or 90 years ago.

It's sad the way we educate people and the way we use them, especially since there's clear evidence that treating employees well provides better results for everyone.

I'm hanging onto hope that this nation is turning around in spite of the GOP's efforts to drag it deeper into the decay of a greed based society.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I so agree, my dear. One wonders what is going on there with New Jersey's Postal Service?? Perhaps you should ask one of those carriers. My own experience is that if and when there are problems, the carriers are willing to share---in fact, anxious to be able to talk about whatever it is--is happening.
I tell you, the country is going to Hell In A Handbasket, I swear.

jinksy said...

The troubles start when money turns into a little tin pot god ruling the hearts and minds of the bosses, instead of them letting a wish to be of service and do a good job be their main concern...

the walking man said...

i asked my mailman and what he said was that the carriers are changed so often because the USPS is losing so much business that routes are consolidated and the carriers pick up extra streets as they are moved to a larger territory.

My new carriers route ended two streets north a month ago but now extends to a street south of me.

Akelamalu said...

When the mail delivery goes wrong it's not usually the fault of the person who delivers it, the managers on the big salaries have usually changed the system!

CherylK said...


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