Last fall former postal clerk Mark Dimondstein was elected President of the American Postal Workers Union on a platform of killing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s downsizing plan and stopping Staples in its tracks.
Since 2008 the Post Office has seen its volume plummet more than 25 percent. Think about it; how vital is your mail box these days?
Donahoe’s plan: think outside the envelope.
That’s a rare and dangerous action for a bureaucratic behemoth – especially the part about opening mail centers inside Staples stores.
So what’s not to like about that?
Staples mail centers would be staffed by its workers, not PO union members.
Which brings us to Dimondstein’s “National Day of Action ” tomorrow. Complete with protests to try and stop the Staples rollout.
I asked a manager at the Overland Park Staples about it because I’d not heard any of this locally. And he told me that no stores in Kansas City were testing the program and that I should call Kristin Houston in Staples headquarters for more information.
What I got from Houston is about what you’d expect.
“I can tell you that Staples continually tests new products and services to better meet the needs of our customers. We are currently operating a pilot program in select stores that is testing specific services and offering added convenience for our customers. As a matter of policy, we don’t provide details on our pilot programs or on our agreements with vendors.”
Basically the Post Office is a worn out, overpaid, typical “government” nightmare. Staples would undoubtedly get the job done much easier and far more efficiently with an average non-management pay scale scale of $7-15 hour.
That’s actually a little high, because in reality, the postal transactions would be handled by sales associates averaging closer to $8-9.00 per hour, according to a web site that tracks competitive wages in different industries.
Next time you’re standing in a long line and running out of patience at the Post Office, bear in mind that 80% of mail sorters make between $12.01 and $25.53 an hour. Postal Clerks make between $23.87 and $26.56 an hour (the median wage reported being $25.53). Not to mention that 80% of mail carriers earn between $19.46 and $27.27 an hour to drive one of those cute, little trucks or parade down your street, according to a chron.com survey
Bloomberg BusinessWeek hit Dimondstein with the following questions recently:
Bloomberg: The management of the U.S. Postal Service says it wants to provide new services.
“They are shortening hours of operations in post offices. They’re not staffing the post office properly, so there are long lines. The postal service has also made a deal with Staples to put post offices in Staples stores. Then the post office is saying: “See, we just want to have the customers have easier access.” The problem with that is, it’s taking good, living-wage jobs and putting them into the private-sector side. These people aren’t postal workers. They aren’t trained to protect the sanctity, security, and privacy of the mail.”
I see Dimondstein’s point. As a customer of the USPS I demand that my Hy-Vee flyer and all the other crap I get in the mail isn’t read by some busy body before it hits my trash.
Bloomberg: Isn’t foot traffic going down in traditional post offices around the country?
“I actually don’t know the answer to that question.”
There’s some intellectual integrity for you.
How could somebody be President of the postal union and not have command of that basic fact?
According to the post office’s own numbers, annual customer visits declined 27 percent between 2005 and 2011, from 1.28 billion to 930 million.
When’s the last time you bought a stamp?
I can’t begin to recall. About the only time I darken a post office door is to pick up something from eBay, which I’d far rather do about anywhere but there. Between the long wait and the testy attitudes, I’m fine with Staples…or just about any other option.
Let’s watch the news tomorrow and see if Dimondstein’s protest even makes a blip on the radar. For the sake of my editor’s “green” streak, all I want is for the last one out to turn off the lights.