Postal Reorganization Act has been a failure for the USPS

Six former Postmasters General and incumbent Postmaster General Winton M. Blount were present when President Nixon signed the Postal Reorganization Act in August 1970. The law created USPS in July 1971. From left are John A. Gronouski, J. Edward Day, James A. Farley, Nixon, Blount, Arthur E. Summerfield, Lawrence F. O’Brien and W. Marvin Watson. Source: USPS

By Dan Kuralt – September 7, 2020
As I listen to, and read all of the moaning and groaning by Democrats and writers with an “opinion” in the press and elsewhere, I find myself wondering where all these people were when the U.S. Postal Service was undergoing it’s long slide downward.

Joe Biden was around, as was Nancy Pelosi and other movers and shakers in the Democratic Party. So were the Republicans. The Republicans were honest about their beliefs. They wanted the USPS to be a private business. The Democrats bought into it, and so did the news media. They bought into the Board of Governors, whose main job was the ruin of the USPS. They all stood around sucking their collective thumbs. The Postal Reorganization Act was the means to the end.

As an officer of the Springfield Area local of the American Postal Workers Union I sat in on meetings with then Postmaster General Tony Franks and others, such as our recently retired PMG Meghan Brennan. Franks’ big thing was jokes about his last name…”Frankly speaking” etc. He didn’t last long.

I asked Franks a few pointed questions and our local Postmaster almost had heart failure. I asked why USPS didn’t handle packages like Mail Boxes ETC and others such as UPS when they took them in. He made a joke about penny ante outfits. Fly by nighters. Franks didn’t have a problem with the question, as he wasn’t serious about the USPS. He was a businessman and USPS wasn’t his business. I went home from the meeting and found a flyer from Mail Boxes ETC stuffed in my mailbox. It suggested that I use them to mail my Christmas packages.

The only thing that the Postal Reorganization Act has done for the USPS is run it into the ground. Stripping down the business is not going to make us break even. Unless the Congress and cable TV gets serious about the mail system, it’s lights out.

Dan Kuralt, Springfield


4 thoughts on “Postal Reorganization Act has been a failure for the USPS

  1. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - Springfield, MA
    Office held, if any
    Email Address

    I don’t believe I mentioned the salary of the members of the BOG or shareholders. I could probably spend the rest of my life arguing over the purpose of the BOG. The purpose of the BOG and the PRA was privatization of the USPS.

    Those who were around at the time no doubt remember APWU Vice President Dave Johnson. Management took our national officers over to see the flat sorters, which were about to come online.

    Johnson expressed his view that mechanization and automation were going to result in massive job losses. The membership didn’t want to hear it. He was voted out of office the next election.

    You can’t stand in the way of progress. We got run over because we didn’t do anything to offset losses from mechanization and privatization. I met with Biller, Burrus and Bell in an effort to come up with ways to respond to attacks on USPS.

    Several years later management decided to build ten Priority Mail Centers, one of which was in Springfield. One of our Congressmen, Richard Neal looked at it as new jobs in the area. I wrote up a letter and we put the names of each individual member on them. I said that they were not new jobs. They came from the Springfield P.O.

    We had the stewards go around to their areas and get members to sign them. Some of our members took a yellow highlighter and marked up lines that they wanted to emphasize. We had over a thousand of them and we put them in the mail.

    We then ran a picket line around the Main Post Office and I publicized it on 21cpw. We had bus loads of members from seven states show up. Even though they didn’t have one. There were very few members of the Springfield local there, but there were several hundred members from other locals. There were even Mail Handler officers from Boston. Biller, Burrus, Bell and Guffey were there. Retired national officers were there. Three television crews and the local press were there. Activist Presidents rented buses and put their members into them. Priority Mail Centers disappeared after that.

    My memory and opinion is that the BOG came around as a result of the so-called “Great Postal Strike”. Our right to negotiate a contract and a pay raise came as a result of that (The Postal Strike), and the national publicity. Others may have interpreted it differently.

    I mention the Priority Mail Centers because I want to show what I think APWU should do. Regardless of whether the Democrats take all three branches of government, the lobbyists for the banking industry and other vested interests will still be there. Asking members to write letters themselves won’t do it. I said so at the time.

  2. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    Rochester, NY Area Local 215
    Office held, if any
    President Emeritus
    Email Address

    Sorry, I disagree. The PRA did not set up the Postal Service to be a business or a government agency dependent on Congressional funding to operate. It was set up as a Non Profit entity to provide service at cost. We have no stockholders and seven figure executives demanding riches at the expense of consumers and workers. Sadly we have some non profits in our country that hand out seven figure salaries and even eight figure salaries such as so called non profit health insurance companies. Unions are non profit, but if they tried this crap they could not get the hand cuffs on fast enough.

    What this set-up failed to do was stop the wealthy right wing in their attempts to privatize everything. Whenever we did profit, instead of keeping those funds for future shortfalls, we were raided of funds, See Reagan and James Miller, the Omnibus Budget Act, and George W. Bush and the PAEA. They built a private sector automation mail processing industry giving mail discounts in excess of revenue saved, sending revenue and jobs out the door.

    Bill Burrus did much work and advocacy on this issue. We all know there are many other examples of privatization including our current PMG. In my view, representatives from each postal union and consumer groups on the BOG would help to make us a true non profit dedicated to service. So far those attempts have failed and we continue to have a BOG and PRA dominated by right wing Chamber of Commerce types.

  3. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - Springfield, MA
    Email Address

    The PRA and the BOG were designed to turn the USPS into a business. The BOG was put in place to carry that out. They were all businessmen, weren’t they? I wonder how many people are benefiting from that pay raise now. Service was sacrificed to make us a business.

    When I left the USPS as President of my local, management was in the process of shutting down the GMF. I started screaming to the local news media, and local and regional management lied like a rug. They said they weren’t. Shorty after I left, the GMF was closed.

    I started working for the Post Office Department in 1968 and the right to negotiate a contract was a big plus. The idea that we could be a business and a service to the country at the same time is false.

    The businessmen that are running the USPS are running it, and the Union into the ground. When they cut jobs they cut our treasury. They cut our membership. By cutting service they drive more people away from the USPS.

    There are a lot of things that USPS could be doing but we aren’t The reason we aren’t is the desire to privatize us. Congress is going to have to fix that! I wonder if they will.

    No offense to you, Don, but the whole thing pisses me off.

  4. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - Auburn WA Local
    Office held, if any
    Retired President
    Email Address

    The PRA in 1970 was good for the USPS and gave employees collective bargaining rights. What hurt the USPS was the PAEA in 2006.

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