Is the Post Office Going Bankrupt?

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Why the postal service is in financial trouble.

You've probably heard by now that many government departments are strapped for cash, including the postal service. It's a tough economic time that we live in, and if you've been looking for a job, then you already know just how tough it is. Most companies, and even the U.S government, are looking for new ways to cut corners and save money. This means increasing productivity and reducing expenses. If a certain department continually loses money and has no clear plan of how to increase their bottom line, getting rid of the department is a no-brainer.

While that works well in corporate America, it doesn't always translate when it comes to government backed services that we all rely on. For example, public libraries, fire departments and police departments are all run by the government and no one really expects them to make a profit. Still, we don't want to have to go without these basic services.

Currently, the USPS is in serious financial trouble and there doesn't seem to be a way to get it back on track. This year alone, they are projected to lose $11 billion and they have just announced that they aren't going to be able to make the $5.5 billion payment to the government. In fact, they are in so much trouble that unless they get help, they will be forced to stop running early next year.

Here are some of the problems they are facing:
  • The amount of mail that is being delivered has dropped over 20% in the last five years - mostly due to the increased use of electronic means of communication.
  • Although online shopping has increased the number of packages, many companies use other carriers like UPS or FedEx.
  • The US Postal service has a contract with their employees making it almost impossible to have massive layoffs or large pay cuts.

There are several ideas being pushed to cut costs and make the postal service more profitable. Here are the best of them:
  • Eliminate mail on Saturdays
  • Close 3,700 post offices
  • Lay off 120,000 workers, which amounts to about one-fifth of the work force.
  • Getting the ability to sell other things out of the post office, like cell phones, gift cards etc..
  • Run their operations out of other stores like Wal Mart.
  • Putting advertisements on mail trucks and inside the Post Office.
  • Getting permission to deliver wine and beer.

It's interesting to note, at least to me anyway, that all of this debate keeps coming back to the "evil of Labor Unions". The Congressmen who are trying to push legislation to help the Postal Service become profitable continue to talk about how they have contracts with their labor force, including a "no layoff" clause. The thought is that if they were able to slash their workforce, outsource or hire cheaper workers and not be obligated to offer expensive benefits like healthcare and pensions, they could be back on track to profitability.

Is this really where we are at as a country? Has anyone considered the precedent that it would be setting? For decades, working as a mail carrier has been seen as a good job. If you were lucky enough to get a job working for the post office, you could be sure that in exchange for your hard work, you would earn a wage that would allow you to support your family, provide them with decent medical care and that you would have a pension there for you when you reached retirement age. Isn't this what we all want?

Cutting jobs and replacing these workers with less expensive minimum wage employees would set back an entire group of workers and force even more people out of the middle class and into poverty. Somehow, the "bad guys" in this debate are the postal workers who just want what we all want.

In my opinion, the Postal Service is something that we all rely on. Even if we don't receive a great deal of mail personally, it's taken for granted that if we need it, it will be there. Let's keep in mind that this is one of our nation's oldest institutions. From the early days of the Pony Express to the modern streamlined process, wherever you live, the mail will get there. It doesn't do our country any good to cut out delivery services that deliver important mail, social security checks to the home bound, coupons that help struggling families save money and even just cards and letters.

If we keep talking about cutting jobs and hiring cheaper workers as though it were a normal, commonplace thing to do, we run the risk of making good jobs a thing of the past.

When our Congressmen start to talk about the jobs of hard working Americans as pointless and a waste of money, we all should listen up. If we don't say anything about taking the postal worker's jobs, who is going to say anything when they come for your jobs?

Do you think that the Postal Service needs to close? What do you think about these cost saving measures?
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for LogisticsJobsiteBlog and Nexxt, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.

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