Category Archives: Mail/Delivery

Trump Moves to Gut the Post Office

Source: David Dayen, American Prospect, April 16, 2018
 
Some may be inclined to think that Donald Trump’s executive order Thursday night establishing a task force to recommend reforms for the U.S. Postal Service reflects another salvo in the president’s war against Amazon. Trump’s attack on Amazon, a clear byproduct of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post, included the suggestion that the online retailer was “ripping off the post office” by securing a special deal for the USPS to ship packages the last mile. By reviewing the finances of the post office, Trump’s task force could demand increases to that shipping contract, possibly costing Amazon billions of dollars. … But these issues have almost nothing to do with the Trump executive order. The Amazon spat is a cover for the formal unveiling of a long-wished right-wing project to destroy the post office and have private industry take over its infrastructure, which taxpayers funded long ago. All the executive order really does is create a report; it would take a willing Congress to deliver the final hammer blow. …

U.S. Post Office Severs Ties With Staples

Source: Drew Fitzgerald, Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2017

The U.S. Postal Service said Thursday that it would end a partnership with Staples Inc. that allowed customers to send packages from more than 500 of the office supplier’s stores, yielding to a yearslong campaign by the postal workers’ union. The pullback comes after the National Labor Relations Board in November ordered the post office to end the partnership. A USPS spokeswoman said Thursday the service wouldn’t fight the order. The American Postal Workers Union, which represents 200,000 postal workers nationwide, protested the relationship, arguing that it transferred many of their duties to Staples employees and put the post office on a path toward privatization. The average postal union member makes about $25 an hour, much more than the typical Staples employee. … Staples launched a mini-post-office program in 2013 that prompted the union to boycott the chain and picket its shareholder meetings. The retailer scrapped the pilot months later but still participated in the USPS’s Approved Shipper program for basic services like priority mail. Shipper PostNet and Staples rival Office Depot Inc. also offer Approved Shipper services. The November NLRB order didn’t affect those relationships or sales of stamps, which remain available at many retailers. Staples said that customers still would have access to shipping services through a continuing agreement with United Parcel Service Inc. …

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PRC Documents Shed Light on Shady Staples Privatization Deal
Source: American Postal Workers Union, July 9, 2015

In response to a lawsuit filed by the APWU, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has coughed up 231 documents that shed new light on the secretive deal between Staples and the Postal Service. Perhaps most jarring is the acknowledgement that the Staples’ deal was intended to serve as a model for transferring postal retail operations from the U.S. Postal Service to private retailers….“These documents show that the management’s dirty deal with Staples was designed to be a blueprint for offering postal services through private retailers. This privatization would dismantle the public Postal Service and close post offices.” observed APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

AFL-CIO Endorses Postal Workers’ Boycott of Staples
Source: Mike Hall, AFL-CIO Now blog, June 2, 2014

The AFL-CIO has endorsed the Postal Workers’ (APWU’s) boycott of the office supply giant Staples over the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS’s) privatization of retail operations by contracting mail services to Staples, with “postal counters” staffed with low-wage, high-turnover Staples employees rather than postal employees. The USPS began contracting out postal services to Staples in October. So far, 80 Staples stores are part of the pilot program. But the USPS plans to expand the scheme to 1,500 Staples locations nationwide at the same time the USPS is eliminating public post offices.

Postal Workers Protest At Staples Over Shift In Jobs
Source: Yuki Noguchi, NPR, April 24, 2014

…Speaking at a protest in Washington, D.C., postal union President Mark Dimondstein says it’s fine that the Postal Service wants to open counters in retail outlets, as it began to last year in Staples stores. The problem, he says, are the terms. “Our demand on the question of the USPS-Staples deal was to put postal employees in those postal units,” Dimondstein says. Instead, the counters are staffed by Staples employees. And the Postal Service has made clear it hopes to keep expanding within the Staples chain and with other similar partners. “Eventually these [kinds of] deals are going to shift living wage jobs in the postal system to non-living wage jobs in the retail sector,” Dimondstein says…..
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Rosen Tells Senate Panel He Wouldn’t Privatize USPS

Source: Daily Labor Report, April 21, 2016 (Subscription Required)

Jeffrey A. Rosen, one of President Barack Obama’s nominees to join the U.S. Postal Service‘s Board of Governors, told a Senate panel April 21 that he favors keeping the USPS as a “self-sustaining public organization” rather than privatizing the service. However, Rosen declined to respond when Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) asked whether Rosen would support using taxpayer dollars to prop up the financially troubled USPS. … Postal unions oppose privatization and have said in the past that they’re concerned the USPS Board of Governors—which generally includes representatives of both political parties—may seek to privatize the Postal Service.

Part of USPS should be privatized, Brookings fellow says

Source: Ryan McDermott, Fierce Government, September 21, 2015

On the heels of new Postal Service reform legislation, a fellow at the Brookings Institution offered her own suggestions for saving the agency, including splitting it into two distinct parts. Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in governance studies at Brookings, released a paper Sept. 18, the same day Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced a bill meant to bring USPS back to solvency. While Carper’s bill tries to help the agency by keeping its current organization intact, Kamarck’s solution is more dramatic. In order to save the USPS, the organization must be broken into two separate entities – one public and one private, Kamarck argues in the paper. … Kamarck says one organization should be a public sector organization with the sole mission of “delivering on the universal mandate of delivering mail service to all Americans.” While the other organization should be privatized so that “it is out from under the laws and regulations that make innovation and flexibility all but impossible,” Kamarck writes in the paper. … This new organization should be allowed to compete with similar organizations in the private sector and should be managed by people with private sector experience, she says….

Brookings Institute Report: Delaying the inevitable: Political stalemate and the U.S. Postal Service
Source: Elaine C. Kamarck, Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings, September 2015

Elaine C. Kamarck surveys the numerous and varied challenges currently facing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), one of the nation’s oldest institutions. From a steep decline in first-class mail usage, to the rise of the Internet as the main means of modern-day communications, to immense budgetary and market strictures, and to a lack of political will to reform the agency, the USPS faces a wide assortment of problems that threaten its survival.  Kamarck observes that the USPS is expected to compete with the private sector, but yet is stifled by law and saddled with a governance structure that impedes innovation. It is neither a fully public nor a fully private organization, she writes.

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Australia Eases Up on Privatization Government’s Popularity Dwindles Following Harsh Budget Measures

Source: Rob Taylor, Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2014
(subscription required)

Australia’s conservative government scaled back an aggressive plan to privatize state assets that ran the risk of denting its popularity with voters already disgruntled by new, harsh budget measures. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government won’t follow an audit commission’s recommendation to consider privatizing the national postal service to help pay down the country’s debt. It will also not sell the country’s main naval shipbuilder, ASC, he told senators at a briefing on Wednesday. The decision comes at a sensitive time for the eight-month-old government. Its popularity has dwindled since it announced plans to raise taxes on fuel and income and make deep cuts to welfare spending in its new budget. … Privatizing Australia Post would have been particularly sensitive given the perceived danger that people in far-flung, rural parts of Australia would see their services reduced or cut if the entity fell into private hands.

How You’ll Get Screwed If Conservatives Kill the U.S. Postal Service

Source: Alex Henderson, AlterNet, May 14, 2014

….But if USPS in its current form ceases to exist, the results will be harsh, not only in terms of the job losses and loss of tax revenue (unionized postal workers pay a lot of federal and state taxes), but because of the hardships both businesses and consumers would suffer. The end of the U.S. Postal Service could mean more business for its two main privately owned competitors, Federal Express and the United Parcel Service (UPS). But to think either would offer a better deal to consumers is pure fantasy.

USPS is a government-run operation but is not taxpayer-funded—it is mandated by law to run like a business and turn a profit, but is subject to regulations and price controls and operates as a public service. Because USPS is governed by rules UPS and FedEx aren’t subject to, consumers and businesses benefit. USPS cannot charge more for mail delivery to one part of the U.S. than to another part of the U.S., but in a post-USPS America, all bets are off. And a comparison of USPS and non-USPS prices offers a glimpse into life without the U.S. Postal Service. ….

Steering Clear of Outsourcing

Source: Jennifer Gladwell, Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions + Kaiser, Labor Management Partnership, April 2, 2014

The Colorado Couriers UBT is set to save $375,000 this year after an objection prompts a close look at its use of outside contractors.

Department: Couriers (Colorado)

Value Compass: Affordability, Best Place to Work

Problem: The Colorado Couriers department was using outside contractors to do jobs also done by SEIU Local 105-represented employees.

SMART goal: Reduce the cost of external courier services from $53,000 a month in June 2013 to $38,000 a month by Aug. 31, 2013, while continuing to meet the business needs of the organization.

Metric: Cost of outside contractors

Team co-leads: Anthony Lopez, courier driver, SEIU Local 105; Terry Wagner, manager

Small tests of change:
– Reconfigure and bring routes in-house that were contracted out.
– Work with internal customers to assess their needs.
– Hire an additional employee to reduce overtime and outside courier costs on the weekends.
– Purchase new technology for central dispatching that enables better tracking of pickups and deliveries.
– Equip drivers with smartphones so they can receive information in real time about pickups and deliveries. Central dispatch can monitor drivers’ locations using the phones’ GPS technology, so it is easy to see which driver is closest when a call comes in for an unscheduled pickup.

Results: The team exceeded its stretch goal and is saving an average of $25,577 a month, a cost reduction of 48.2 percent. The team has sustained its success for more than six months. By the end of 2013, the team’s effort had resulted in a cost savings of $145,165. The projected savings for 2014 is more than $375,000…..

Portlanders Kicked, Arrested for Protesting Post Office Privatization

Source: Jamie Partridge, Labor Notes, October 31, 2013

Calling themselves “postal protectors,” 15 activists gathered in the lobby of the main post office in downtown Portland, Oregon, Tuesday, holding signs protesting postal privatization. Seven were arrested while attempting to negotiate a meeting with District Manager Erica Brix. After months of attempts to gain a meeting with senior postal managers, the “protectors” showed up armed with more than a thousand signatures on a petition. Since August senior postal managers have received requests—from postal union local presidents, from Congresspeople, and from community groups—for meetings to discuss an end to privatization of postal jobs. For the sixth time, the activists were refused. …

…While waiting peacefully to meet with Brix, four of the petitioners were grabbed, kicked, and thrown to the floor by a postal inspector, causing injury requiring medical attention. The petitioners are considering filing assault charges.

Despite news reports to the contrary, the activists did not attempt to enter a secure area nor threaten any postal property or personnel.

During the assault, the activists called Portland police. Though the police began by attempting to mediate and set up a meeting with Brix, they abruptly cut off talks and arrested seven for trespassing. The arrestees say they will plead not guilty and request a jury trial, facing up to 30 days or a fine of $1,250.

Postal mail handlers and processing clerks in nearby Salem, Oregon, have lost their jobs as their work is subcontracted to the low-wage, non-union Matheson Flight Extender Inc. in Portland. …

The grip of privatisation on our vital services has to be broken

Source: Seumas Milne, Guardian, 29 October 2013

From Ineos to energy, powerful interests are driving a 30-year failed experiment. Utilities belong in public hands… In the past week, a Swiss-based tax exile announced the closure of the Grangemouth petrochemicals plant, a crucial slice of industrial Scotland, after provoking a dispute with his workforce. Threatened with the loss of 800 jobs, they signed up for cuts in real pay and pensions.

Naturally, the employer claimed to be losing money (despite having made £1.7bn last year), while the media blamed the union. In fact it was a textbook lockout and display of corporate power by Britain’s largest private company – a strategic and once publicly owned complex supplying 85% of Scotland’s petrol, left to be run on the whim of a billionaire. …

….As if all that wasn’t grotesque enough, most of profitable Royal Mail has now been privatised by the supposedly dissident Vince Cable. The current loss to the “taxpayer” from selling shares below their market value is upwards of £1.3bn – more than the government’s entire planned savings from benefit cuts in 2013-14. And its biggest shareholder is now the hedge fund TCI.

Within days, the Co-operative Bank had also fallen prey to US hedge funds, as Conservative ministers put out to tender the country’s most successful rail service, the publicly owned east coast mainline. Never mind its reliability, value-for-money, popularity and the £208m dividend payment to the public purse….

…But then privatised water companies are planning to increase prices by 40% by 2020; Simon Stevens, an executive for the US private health firm UnitedHealth, now bidding for NHS contracts, has been put in charge of the NHS in England; and the security firms, G4S and Serco, are allowed to bid for a share of the probation service despite fraud investigations into existing deals….

University may accept proposals regarding outsourcing, following long history since 1990s

Source: Andrew Messamore, Daily Texan, February 21, 2013

If the University accepts proposals to outsource on-campus dining, parking and housing services, it would be the latest step in a long history of outsourcing at UT stretching back through the early 1990s…. The committee claims that by reorganizing the University’s administrative functions, assets and commercialization practices, the University could save $490 million in the next decade…. Such a move would not be unprecedented, Hegarty said. Unlike Texas A&M University, which outsourced 1,647 maintenance, landscaping and dining service jobs for the first time last year, UT has already integrated significant outsourcing in its maintenance, landscaping and custodial jobs….

…Outsourced services at UT range from University email accounts managed by Google to food services run by Compass Group USA at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center… Recently, the University outsourced custodial services at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus to SSC Service Solutions…

…In 1990, UT’s Division of Recreational Sports outsourced custodial jobs through Royal Kim Maintenance, which employs between 10 and 12 contractors seasonally at UT. Recently, RecSports also began outsourcing custodial and landscape services as well as cardio equipment repair, employing an additional five to six contractors… In the following year, 1991, the University Union began outsourcing its cafeteria services, bringing in businesses like Taco Bell and Wendy’s to provide concessions.

Texas Athletics started outsourcing labor for dining previously employed by the University at all athletic events in 1994 through Marriott Management Services, which was bought by Sodexo in 1998. As detailed in a report last spring by The Daily Texan, the French-based Sodexo has been accused of numerous worker rights and human rights violations, some in the United States. Following a 2010 Human Rights Watch report on Sodexo’s alleged labor practices, the company lost 11 contracts with universities and athletic programs in 2011. Sodexo netted $3 million in profits for Texas Athletics in 2011….In 2005 the University outsourced its Central Receiving and Delivery division to MagRabbit. Central Receiving at that time managed all deliveries on campus from suppliers of office and workplace supplies….