The war on labor moves to the Post Office

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The cash-strapped United States Postal Service is considering a plan to break union contracts with its employees – kick 600,000 workers and 480,000 pensioners off the federal health insurance program – and lay off 20% of its workforce. The USPS released a statement on the plan saying, “Exceptional circumstances require exceptional remedies.” The plan would require approval from Congress before taking effect – something the Republicans who hate labor unions and government services – would be giddy to sign on to.

The United Stats Postal Service is as old as the nation itself – it's in the Constitution, andh Benjamin Franklin was the very first Postmaster General.

But don’t expect Republicans to get too sentimental as they plot to sell of this great American institution to UPS.

Thom Hartmann Administrator's picture
Thom Hartmann A...
Dec. 29, 2009 10:59 am


Come on Thom, this is like the ordinary taxpayer being forced to subsidize "candlestick makers" decades after society moved to electric light.

I'm sorry but the ingenuity of the American people, primarily becuase they are economically free, continues to propel society to greater and greater heights.

There is no need to be sentimental about the guys who lost their jobs sweeping up horse poo from the streets after the car was invented, just as there is no need to mourn the chimney sweep after the introduction of gas heating.

Look on the bright side. Mail is sent and recieved instantaneously now, and contains NO carbon footprint!!

Mankind is the winner.

Calperson's picture
Dec. 11, 2010 10:21 am

You have a point Cal Person about how the differences in relative technology has and will change the economic landscape. However, the problem here is not one merely about funding the USPS. It is about selling the USPS to to private carriers who are run by shareholders instead of "one vote, one voice" citizens. Technology is great, but if the USPS is privatized it will lessen the representation in the USPS of those who doesn't own a share of stock in the company that takes it over.

Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Cal, until you have invented a teleportation device, this criticism is rife with false parallels.

Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

A couple of thoughts:

I know Thom has made the argument that privatized mail service in high densitiy markets like New York City or Los Angeles might produce lower costs (in the short run before the unavoidable monopoly.) The trade-off is that mail service in rural areas would skyrocket. Frankly, I really don't care if it costs $10 to mail a letter from Helena to Bismarck.

What I DO care about is the ability of Helena and Bismarck to stay in touch with the outside world through information. So perhaps a tradeoff for privatized mail delivery might be guaranteed high-speed internet service. For free. In fact everyone should have this. And a free basic desktop computer every three years or so. (And, yes, I know that free is not "free" we will all have to pay a little more taxes to provide this service. But we'll be paying less for physical mail delivery to offset it.)

On Monday this week, I was listening to some local right wing radio host's show, and even at the time I thought it was bizarre that he and his co-host (and the news girl) started harping on counter service at the Post Office. It was a total nonsequiture to whatever they were in the middle of discussing. But what really tickled my ear was that they launched into that argument that I haven't heard in years, that "the private sector could do this so much better. You don't have these problems in the private sector." I don't think these panty-waists have ever had to set foot in a Home Depot or a large auto parts franchise. But hell even the grocery stores offer horrifically bad merchandise and service. Now I am lucky enough to live in Los Angeles so I can still find independent hardware stores and auto parts stores (and it COSTS $$$$), but I'm sure there are many parts of the country where they are not so lucky.

So I found it verrrrrry interesting that Thom posts this thread on Friday...

Of course there is no right-wing echo chamber...

And I use Home Depot more frequently than I use the post office. And I think the post office offers better service. And with regards to daily delivery service, I can recall only once in the last 10 years where I didn't get something timely or someone didn't get something I sent timely.

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Cal, Taxpayers don't subsidize the Postal Service.

Shinwell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Shinwell:

Cal, Taxpayers don't subsidize the Postal Service.

And the Federal government takes from the USPS to boot.

Dominic C
Jun. 27, 2011 10:39 am

i am sick of this crap!what is happening to the post office is the same as all the commons trying to survive for 30 years in the starve the beast political now the refrain is privatize,privatize, crap!!with all the evidence around us where everything costs more each day what makes anyone think that in the long term privatizing our public commons is going to be less expensive or more stable than keeping them as they are-the peoples.performed by the people for the people.the country/government is like an internal combustion engine and revenue is what fuels it the u/s.mail system is a highly effective organization.i remember the motto-thru wind,rain,sleet or snow the mail will be delivered!!can we really say a private monopoly will have the same dedication,the same historic connection to the very founding of our many more of our sacred strands of community and national services which for generations have helped define what life in America was meant to be will be sold off or outsourced.well to hell with that!!the value we placed on our local services from coast to coast and the courage and the will to say these are ours and they are important to every citizen and will be maintained and improved as needed.perhaps if the tax system was more like we had in the 60's we would not have such concerns.currently we have a bunch of jackasses running around with their-govt.cant do anything right so why give money to it mantra.with attitudes like that we never would have explored the stars,never planted our flag on the moon,never reached beyond what was known to discover an unknown!!

well thats my rambling rant for the moment

kevin baggese's picture
kevin baggese
Aug. 4, 2011 3:15 pm

Nope - Thom has NEVER ever made an argument to privatize the post office...

louisehartmann's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Yes, you're right. I'm sorry if my post suggested Thom advocated privatization. I was trying to post what I understood to be Thom's argument AGAINST privatization.

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Baggies is on a sound path (started to put "right track" - but that doesn't mean what it used to).

Look to the PAEA of 2006 (Postal Accountability Enhancement Act) recall who was in charge then. This is just another example of how they intentionally bring ruin to a thing and then point to the ruin they instituted as the rationale for doing away with the thing.

Every time evidence such as this emerges - we should be reminding everyone of how their actions prove they cannot be trusted with governmental control.

Rodger97321's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

They didn't raise the price of postal service enough. I guess they thought that would hit granny too much when she wanted to send out Christmas cards or big business would complain about the cost of mailing junk. But when I was in Europe back in the 1970s I noted how much more it cost to mail something but yet the service was good.

Closing the postal service would create a lot of problems. I, for one, don't want to be forced to let companies suck my bank account to pay bills. I know a lot of people like to do that but to me it's always asking for trouble. And a lot of small business people can't afford to set up such services.

captbebops's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

If you have not heard, the Postal Service is being required to pre-fund its employee pension/health costs despite having a financially sound program in place. This is a crass attack on the Service because it does put them in financial difficulty to fulfill this punitive requirement. Taxpayers do not fund the Post Office, and Congress has not been its friend. In the stupidity of privatization, it is always the Commons that is enclosed, not something that actually wastes money. We just get to pay more for less while the "economy grows" at the predator zone.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

At one time the mail was the only way people could communicate across any kind of distance. Since the fax machine, mail has become less and less cost-effective as technology moves forward. Look how much business is done by e-mail and on the Internet now, such as paying most if not all of your bills. People don't write letters anymore. People don't want junk mail. People do a lot of video-conferencing where once they would have flown to a meeting. Sort of like still getting yellow pages on your front porch.

There is a need for mail, just not nearly as great a need as there was even 25 years ago. Yet the post office continues on as it always has, with much less revenue due to much lower volume, but much higher costs of operation on the other side.

Start cutting it back gradually. When people start missing its services, if they start missing them, they will make it known.

patchthrough's picture
Sep. 7, 2011 3:45 pm

Amending my Note #11 - PAEA of 2006 was just the last step.

There was a really well done recap of the crap before the crap done by the CRS [order code RL 32346], dated Jan 14, 2005 which I see I failed to mention before.

Notice how their first attack on the Postal Retriement Plan failed when it was discovered the Post Office had actually OVERFUNDED it.

They passed a law (signed by Resident B. in April 2003 - gee, what did they have us all concentrating on that month?) called the Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act of 2003 (Public law 108-18) which called for reduced payments.


Rodger97321's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Regarding 'junk mail" my postal carrier has decided I don't need to know what's on sale at the local supermarket chains. That's about the only 'junk mail" I actually care about however. So today I informed the managers at the local supermarket that for the second week in a row I did not get their flier nor the fliers from two other supermarkets. And I'm not the only one on my block not receiving them.

And yes I've read about the pension fund shenanigan plus the fact that though people are mailing fewer letters and emailing more online shopping has actually boosted PO revenues.

captbebops's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The votes for the 2006 screw (I really wanted to write the f word, but with respect to Thom...) the post office bill are confidential. We can't see who voted what way, fargin bastegers

MEJ's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I think we should call for the Postmaster General's butt to be canned. Instead of standing up for his hard working employees, screaming about the injustice done to the USPS by Republicans in Congress (who created this crisis) and offering real solutions that will save and strengthen our beloved postal system for the longterm he is taking the typical corporate approach and offering up human beings as sacrifice.

And, to anyone who says "we have e-mail now, the post office is obsolete" I'd say: you obviously don't run a household or you would think twice about making such a ridiculous remark. I want my magazines delivered and I want to be able to send hand written cards and letters to my best friend and I don't want to put my banking information online; it's dangerous. So what shall I do? You would have me just comply with a mandate to digitize my life!

I don't recall where I saw it but someone, somewhere, made the remark that if home delivery, on the order done by the USPS, were done by a private, for profit service like UPS or FedEx we'd be paying one more huge monthly service fee, probably something in the range of $100 a month or more. That is undoubtedly true. The general public (and business too, which benefits greatly from our present system) needs to think long and hard about that prospect before they simply dismiss this issue as just one more intractable problem beyond their control.

We CAN stand up for our hard working friends and neighbors who are employed by the Postal Service. I would gladly pay 50 or even 75 cents per stamp to keep mail coming to my door. And shame on anyone who is not standing up to the Republicans and the greedy interests they represent so that letter carriers don't become just the latest casualties in the right-wing's war on labor.

mdhess's picture
Apr. 9, 2010 11:43 pm

Here's my 2 current you Tube videos I posted about Issa and HR2309..

Good post you made.

This one concerns Issa promoting HR2309 by ommissions and distortions.

This is the same statement you made with the help of cats, lions and guitar

Hey There 4's picture
Hey There 4
Aug. 21, 2012 9:51 am

Isn't there a very simple solution to this? If the USPS "costs" have increased, then let them raise postal rates to cover those costs. If that causes a further drop in patronage (and it likely will) then they will have to cut those costs. They have a monopoly on first class mail delivery and they are not able to take advantage of that monopoly. To me, this is a perfect example of government intervention gone too far. If the USPS were a private sector business, it would be simple. Raise rates or cut costs to compete. If they were completely part of the government, then a "profit" isn't necessary. However, the current not really government, not really private scenario just isn't working. I know many of you don't like to hear this, but it appears that the government is the problem here.

I don't see this as a war on labor. I suspect that they haven't been able to raise postal rates because Washington won't allow it for two reasons. 1. The big customers of the USPS are mass marketers like credit card companies and we would never raise the costs of our political donors. 2. Raising postal rates will have a negative impact on the poor, those without computers and rural communities that rely heavily on the post office.

So, Washington should either get out of the way or absorb it totally.

Jun. 15, 2012 12:01 pm

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