Bellbottom Blog

Scratching A Writing Itch From Time To Time



I may have written about the USPS before but I feel the need to make another run at it.

As you may know, the Postal Service is proposing to do away with Saturday delivery for regular mail.  Packages will still be delivered.  The change is supposed to take place in August.

First, a little family history.  My Dad started working for the Post Office (as it was called then) Thanksgiving week 1956.  I was 5 months old.  From then to now, the USPS has been a major influence in my life.

He worked there for 29 years.  I was employed by them for 27 years  before taking an early retirement.  My wife works there.  Even my son works for them to earn enough money to put himself through college.

Over the first 14 years of Dad’s career, he had to work extra jobs because the pay was so low. He worked part-time at convenience stores.  During December, he would work for Sears putting together toys.  We didn’t see a lot of him back then.

Mom worked part-time as well, just for us to get by.

Then, in 1970, Moe Biller led a strike in New York which was followed by strikes in other major cities.  After a short time, there was legislation that allowed for unions, collective bargaining and all the rest.

Finally, Dad could just work one job.  We weren’t rolling in money.  It took a long time to dig out from all the debt they had incurred trying to raise a family.

Dad was a mail carrier.  Most of his time there he had a walking route.  It is hard to properly explain the toll that takes on a person.  When the weather is good, it can be tolerable.  But in the rain, snow and all the rest of the credo, it is drudgery. Carriers feel it in their backs, shoulders, knees and especially their fingers.  If you look at the hands of a retired carrier, you will see all kinds of twisted fingers and swollen knuckles.

If you work inside a plant where the mail is sorted through high speed machinery, you avoid the weather but not the sore feet, hands, back and the added inhaling of paper dust.  The air is full of it and it settles in your throat and lungs.  The ventilation that used to handle that problem was shut off after the anthrax attacks in 2001.

I know there are tougher jobs. I am just giving perspective for people who aren’t aware of the toll working for the USPS can take.

Now, back to the lack of Saturday delivery.  I think it is being suggested to try to move Congress into changing some things.  Notably, the pension requirement.

Let’s be clear.  If UPS or FedEx or someone else wanted to do the everyday deliveries the Postal Service does, they would have tried it by now.  Fact is, they can’t.  A large percentage of the packages they move wind up being delivered by the USPS.  It is called the “Last Mile” mail.  They pay the postal rate because it is cheaper for them to do that than deliver the packages themselves.

The USPS also hires small trucking  businesses to move their mail over long and short hauls.  Since they don’t have their own fleet of planes, they have to purchase space on commercial carriers.  There is a whole lot to moving the volume of mail the USPS does every day.

As far as benefits go, people have said the benefit package is too rich and they (postal workers) should get less.

I find it odd that people who had fits over anyone suggesting that the rich pay more in taxes are in favor of taking away bargained for benefits.  I would like for workers in other industries to fight to get better pay and benefits.  Workers should be striving for more and better not settling for less and less.  If that means joining a union, then by all means, join one.  The pendulum has swung so far over in favor of the CEO’s, it is time for it to come back.

A strong middle-class drives the economy with their purchasing power. Not everyone can own their own business, so you need workers who are fairly compensated.

I don’t know how this situation is going to resolve itself.  It will probably be some sort of cobbled together mess that leaves no one happy.  That seems to be the way things get done these days.



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4 thoughts on “USPS

  1. dianeprokop on said:

    Here in Oregon the governor is trying to take away union benefits from those of us who are already drawing a pension. The State’s budget is in trouble because the banks screwed up. Meanwhile the middle class teacher is asked to donate their paltry pension to bail them out. Same deal with the postal workers. Another great post!

    • Thanks. All of the different messes were not created by us, yet we get stuck with paying for it. As far back as the Savings and Loan scandals, the average person takes it on the chin.

  2. I’m all for doing whatever we have to to make sure the USPS stays up and running. My uncle worked for them for 30 years so I’m attached to them (maybe not as much as you are) and want to see them survive.

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