“The Tyler Morning Telegraph attempted to interview postal employees at the Owentown center Thursday afternoon. Employees said they were instructed not to comment.”
How absurd is it that people about to lose their jobs are told they can’t even talk about it?
Don’t talk — or what? Would they be fired? Oh, wait …
Sadly, this is not just absurd and draconian, it’s also indicative of exactly what’s wrong with the U.S. Postal Service, which is bleeding cash and losing customers at an astonishing rate.
Closing some facilities was necessary; it’s unfortunate that some of them had to be here. But the Postal Service is in trouble, and it’s responding in exactly the wrong way.
Only in 2012 could “$2.5 billion” seem like small potatoes, but compared to the Postal Service’s annual losses of $18.2 billion, that’s exactly what it is.
That’s only one indication of how much trouble the Postal Service is in.
“According to a 2010 study by the Boston Consulting Group, mail volume will decline an additional 15 percent by 2020, with first-class mail falling a jaw-dropping 35 percent.”
Like other federal agencies, its toughest problem is in the benefits, pensions, and retiree health care promises made by a generous Congress in years past. It can’t pay them.
The Congressional Budget Office warns that the federal government (that means us) will be liable for Postal Service retiree benefits if the Postal Service faces financial difficulties in the future.
If the Postal Service was operating as a business (indeed, as its successful competitors, UPS and FedEx are doing), it would accept the new realities of competition and email. It would try to do more with less, offer its customers more value, and seek to win them back with better service. That’s what those of us in the private sector are doing.
Downsizing is a big part of that, and to his credit, Donahoe has taken some significant steps there.
But as the numbers show, more needs to change. The Postal Service must begin thinking of itself as a business.
Telling workers about to lose their jobs not to talk about that is how a heavy-handed government agency works; not a business that cares about its employees and its customers.