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Postal Service bailout a flawed plan

Editorial

The United States Postal Service — the country’s second-largest civilian employer after Wal-Mart — is on the brink of a colossal financial meltdown.

As USPS stares bankruptcy in the face, some people believe it is up the House to do what the Senate has already done and pass legislation to keep the Postal Service and its 571,566 full-time jobs intact.

We do not, and apparently neither does the Postal Service’s management.

It is not surprising that the Postal Service finds itself in this financial quagmire.

The growing popularity of e-mail and electronic bill payments has sent mail volume plummeting in the past decade. In just the past five years, the Postal Service's annual volume declined by 43 billion pieces. First Class mail declined 25 percent in the same period of time.

Faced with billion-dollar-deficits and a business model that is slowly going the way of the 8-track tape, Postal Service officials, to their credit, came up with a restructuring plan they hoped would keep them solvent.

It was a financially prudent strategy that called for the closing of up to 252 mail-processing centers — including the one in Plattsburgh — as well as 3,700 post offices — including many in small, rural communities all over the North Country; places such as Schuyler Falls, New Russia, Riparius, North Hudson, Bakers Mills, Ellenburg and Moriah Corners.

The concept is simple enough — less mail means less need for offices and employees.

The restructuring plan, which also proposed halting Saturday delivery, was supposed to save some $6.5 billion a year — and stop the financial hemorrhage.

In the last five years alone, the Postal Service has lost $25 billion and is projected to lose another $14 billion by the end of this year. It loses $25 million a day.

Only 20 percent of its offices are profitable, and its employee expenses are way out of line with those in the private sector. Wages and benefits for its 571,566 full-time employees account for 80 percent of its operating budget, compared with 61 percent of UPS's and 43 percent of FedEx's.

Comments should be directed to denpubs@denpubs.com

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