The impact of massive cost-cutting changes in the Postal Service are already being felt by the Labor Tribune in the form of late, and in some cases very late, delivery of our paper.
After receiving complaints in recent weeks that the paper was arriving three, four, or even five days late, the Labor Tribune investigated with the Post Office and determined the major cause was the cancellation by the Postal Service of the afternoon shift at the USPS distribution center in Hazelwood where mail is sorted and then sent to local post offices. At the same time, there has been a major revamping of job responsibilities and work hours for all staff, not only in St. Louis, but nationwide.
Unfortunately, the revamping is not going well. Posted job classifications for workers to bid on were wrong and as a result, there is “total chaos in the Postal Service,” said Fred Wolfmeyer, president of St. Louis Gateway Local 8 of the American Postal Workers Union.
“People’s lives have been upended. Kids school schedules, family work schedules, everything is in chaos.”
It’s not just the Labor Tribune that's been impacted. Other publications are as well. First Class mail, once delivered overnight, is now stretched to three and four days.
“Everything has been turned upside down,” Wolfmeyer said. “Supervisors and managers don’t know what to do. Because of fewer staff and different hours, mail is sitting all over the place. Morale is shot and productivity is down even though the postal workers themselves are trying desperately to keep up. It’s impossible with shorter hours and fewer staff.”
The Labor Tribune is working with our printer and the USPS to resolve our delivery issues. So far, those efforts have met with success. But the problem is not unique to the Labor Tribune. A quick survey of other weekly papers shows they are having major delivery problems as well.
Readers can help by calling 314-535-9660 if your Labor Tribune arrives late.
“This appears to be the result of a deliberate attempt by the Republican leadership in Washington to starve the Post Office as part of their ‘less government’ theme, which forces top USPS managers to make cuts and drastic changes that really don’t help the situation but rather create public anger at the Postal Service. Over time, that growing anger will help to justify the Republican drive to privatize the entire postal service under the phony mantra of ‘improving service,’” said Publisher Ed Finkelstein.
“If that happens, Americans will suffer greatly,” he predicted. “The problem is NOT with the workers, it’s with political leadership in the national Republican party determined to wreck the current successful system in order to put it into private hands. Then watch what happens!”
Finkelstein added: “If there is ever an electronic nightmare that brings down the Internet and the Cloud, and it could happen, it’s only the Postal Service that touches every American home. Wreck that and we put our entire nation and our way of life at risk. Are we as Americans going to allow that?”
In their drive to privitize, the Republican congress has intentionally created the crisis by demanding that the Postal Service pre-fund the health benefits for retirees 75 years into the future – people who have not even been hired – and pay for it all within the next 10 years.
“There’s not a company in the entire U.S. that has that kind of mandate," Wolfmeyer said. "It’s crazy!
“The Postal Service made an operational profit of $1.4 billion last year. They are NOT losing money,” Wolfmeyer added.
However, the prefunding mandate has given the appearance that the Postal Service is losing money and forcing the Postal Service to take drastic cost-cutting measures that are severely impacting the entire system.
Two bills have been introduced into Congress to postpone this program for two years. If you’re upset with what’s happening, send your congressman a note and demand it stop.
Postal Workers face two-front struggle: bargaining with USPS and Staples takeover of Office Depot
Washington (PAI) – Postal Workers face a two-front struggle: Upcoming bargaining with the Postal Service's new management, and battling a planned monopoly in office products and supplies following Staples’ announced plans to takeover Office Depot.
In essence, the two fronts are linked.
• Killing jobs – The former Postmaster General's scheme to cut costs at USPS included transferring many Postal Workers' tasks to postal stations at Staples stores – stations manned by minimum-wage, no-benefit, non-union part-timers, rather than well-trained unionized APWU members.
• Contract talks – Bargaining, the more immediate front begins Feb. 19.
APWU President Mark Dimondstein said his union's 200,000 members are already revving up their campaign for public support against the USPS and further cost-cutting plans.
“Negotiations are always contentious, and this year will be no exception,” Dimondstein warned. “The Postal Service’s manufactured financial crisis is being used to justify an all-out assault on postal workers, on service to the people, and on the USPS as a great public institution.”
“Our goal is to win a contract that protects good, stable jobs and guarantees the American people their constitutional right to have good postal services, regardless of who they are, where they live, or how much money they have.”
Dimondstein plans to have his members out in the streets as well as at the talks.
“To be victorious, we will have to conduct our fight very differently than we have in the past,” he said. To succeed in bargaining, “We must win support from the people of the country for our goals – good, stable postal jobs and a strong Postal Service that belongs to them.
The Staples fight will involve APWU carrying its anti-monopoly campaign to the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. Both agencies must approve Staples' takeover of Office Depot and, if needed, attach conditions to reduce its monopoly impact. The agencies rejected Staples' last takeover bid, 17 years ago.
USPS already has reduced hours in some post offices and encouraged customers to use Staples stores instead.
“The transfer of living-wage jobs to low-wage, poverty-level jobs is not in the public interest,” said Dimondstein. “Staples is an anti-worker corporation, and we don’t want to see its reach expanded. We will vigorously oppose this merger. It’s bad for workers and bad for consumers.” [/box]