Cutting back on U.S. postal services — yes! And no!

I’m as torn as an opened envelope.

Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa)

Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa)

Sen. Bob Casey’s office sent out a news release Saturday saying he and a bipartisan group of 48 other senators are urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from consolidating up to 82 mail-processing facilities nationwide. The move would eliminate up to 15,000 jobs in 2015, the release says, and would include the Lancaster post office (as well as Erie’s and Scranton’s).

Casey (D-Pa.) includes the full text of the letter he and his cohorts sent. It makes some good points, such as these:

“While a number of reform proposals have been introduced in both the Senate and the House to tackle these problems over the past several years, we have yet to enact legislation. In the absence of Congressional compromise, the Post Service has proposed more sweeping changes to its operations.”

“The Postal Service has already consolidated 141 mail processing facilities since 2012. As the postal network has weakened, service delivery has suffered … (and) it has been more difficult for the American public and small businesses to receive mail in a timely manner.”
(I know I’ve noticed it takes three to four days to get mail that once was delivered the next day. In fact, we’re still waiting on a card sent for my daughter’s 11th birthday, which was July 14; it was mailed from Elizabethtown on July 13).

The news release also makes some audacious claims, such as this one in the letter:

“We respectfully request that you include language in any omnibus appropriations legislation or continuing resolution that would prevent the USPS from closing or consolidating any more area mail processing facilities during Fiscal Year 2015. … This one year moratorium will give Congress the time it needs to enact the comprehensive postal reforms that are necessary for the Post Service to function effectively in the future.”

And this one in a quote from Casey:

“The facilities in Erie, Scranton and Lancaster serve communities that have increasing demand for post services.”

I called Casey’s office this morning to find out his source for that information. I haven’t received a reply yet.

Regardless, a few facts are indisputable: The postal service is bleeding money. Prices continue to rise as demand slows. Demand has slowed because technology that has existed for decades has replaced many of the services the postal service used to provide (email, online bill paying, etc.), and that technology is not going to go away.

In the business world, that’s a no-brainer. It’s time to cut back — on jobs, on locations, on services offered. Stem the financial bleeding, then determine how much service the market truly needs.

But if I were running this business, Lord knows the last thing I’d want is to wait for Congress to decide what my next steps should be — especially when its members haven’t been able to compromise on anything related to me in years.

Then again, losing 15,000 jobs over 37 states (according to Casey’s release) is a giant cutback with widespread ramifications economically. I don’t know that I can say I wholly endorse the USPS’ plan because, without knowing the inner details about what drove this suggestion, it seems over the top to me.

A Journal Multimedia colleague once said to me that business decisions that some of us agonize over every day (such as firing an employee) are mere trifles to others, who have to decide whether to fire thousands of people in one fell swoop.

So I understand your agonizing over these cutbacks, Sen. Casey. But it might be wise to listen to what the USPS thinks is best.

By Amy Gulli

via Cutting back on U.S. postal services — yes! And no! | Central Penn Business Journal.

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