Paul Wilson: USPS About to go Postal on Staples

500_pony_express_recruitmntThink Pony Express revisited…

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.

The issue?

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.

Mark Dimondstein

Mark Dimondstein

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 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?

Staples1218ExtOf course Dimondstein knows.

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.
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21 Responses to Paul Wilson: USPS About to go Postal on Staples

  1. the dude says:

    I use the post office all the time and don’t want to see it privatized, ever.
    They do a decent job save a few hiccups here and there but it seems the privateers are hell bent on destroying the post office. They started first (congress did) with requiring the post office to fund their retirement accounts for the next 50 years.
    Who in their right mind requires that?!?!? I’ll tell you who, people that want to see a decent organization gutted, that’s who.
    Can we agree to leave some government institutions out of the privatization discussion please?

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      Wasn’t it that Founding Father guy, Ben Franklin, who started the Post Office? Wilson, way off target on this rant. The crisis and clusterfuck of the USPS is because it is upper management’s sworn duty to destroy the beast.

      Spending on executive offices is princely. Consider the two bozos who blew through this town a couple of years back. Bought 100 of 1000s of dollars on video equipment and office furniture. Then BAM, they are gone, along with the treasure trove expensed out to KC.

      I use the postal system often. It is as good and as inexpensive a service as the private companies. Perhaps some original thought on why we have a postal system might be in order before you throw the baby out with the bath water.

  2. expat says:

    Those pesky middle class postal workers… We should replace them with minimum wage pseudo-slave laborers who also need welfare to survive, like McDonalds employees. Or even better replace them all with illegal immigrants! That’ll show those egotistical Americans their rightful place. They think they’re soooooo special…. We’ll show them!

  3. chuck says:

    Eliminating the Post Office would be disasterous for African Americans.

    Americans will have to live with it for the forseeable future, because the alternative would be a complete disaster.

    • expat says:

      Yeah at least until the White Goose that laid Golden Eggs is bled dry.

      • chuck says:

        In all fairness, the folks at the Post Office are a very small part of the problem. The richest area in the United States, per capita, is Wahington DC.

        “Executive — 6,546,673 employees; salaries ….. $ 549,126,870,330.
        Legislative — 12,835 employees; salaries ……. 5,250,599,780.
        Judicial — 1,324 employees; salaries ……. 199,418,700.
        Agencies — 5,298,867 employees; salaries ……. 569,886,700,000.
        Total = 11,859,699 employees; salaries …. $ 1,124,463,588,810.

        The consequences of these stupefyingly large numbers are far more devastating than can be seen directly. To grasp the extent of that destruction, consider the level of prosperity that employers and employees achieve today despite regulations, taxes, permits, fines, and wasted time on government paperwork.

        Because of government confiscation of producers’ time and money, gone are the businesses that would have been started with that income. Never to be recouped is the time that would have been spent on innovations, inventions, discoveries and products that would have been made. Never to be retrieved is the prosperity that would have inevitably raised the standard of living, elevated the destitute and eventually wiped out poverty.

        The money that politicians and bureaucrats have looted has gone and continues to go into the pockets of the nonproductive. Vying with one another to ingratiate themselves with the most politically influential, politicians and bureaucrats toss around their loot to raise the height of the soapbox before which others rush to kneel. None of that money creates wealth. It stops dead, going no farther.

        If the electorate is concerned about the destitute, they should demand radical and permanent deregulation that closes three-quarters of the agencies and cuts federal salaries by 50%. The result would free producers to create more goods and jobs, raising the standard of living for all.”

        Here is the article.

        Worth a read.

        The dramatic shift from the private sector to public employment and employment unions, that provide sinecure and, as Paul has stated, lacksuster performance from modestly qualified employees, for ever escalating numbers of Americans is troublesome not just from an economic standpoint, but because those same government employees are, for the most part Liberal. If Stevie Wonder threw a grenade into an IRS office (Or ANY government office.) with 1,000 employees and it resulted in 400 casualties, 399 of them would be Democrats, who, like all government workers in unions, weild a dissproportionate amount of power with politicians and over the average citizen.

        When I was growing up, my dad used to always tell me, that if I went into government work, I would make less money, but have decent long term benefits.

        The worm has turned.

        • Stomper says:

          OMG, Chuck. The American Thinker article you linked above qualifies more as comedy piece. The author clearly never took a class in macroeconomics, or at least passed it. This is such an outrageous spewing of anti-government rhetoric that I would guess that the overwhelming majority of republicans with at least one foot on terra firma would think it goes well past what they would find substantial agreement with. I really hope everyone here took the time to read it in total. Yes, it does make a credible point here and there but it also advocates some ideas that blow past radical.

          You quoted several passages in the article but let me quote a few as well. “Business people – both employers and employees alike – produce all of the services and products that provide our, as well as politicians and bureaucrats comfort, health, safety, and pleasure”. Our first responders might take issue with that. Here’s another one I find ridiculous. ” If the electorate is concerned about the unemployed they should recognize that only those with savings can create jobs. If the electorate is concerned about the young or the elderly, the sick, the disabled, or abused, they should recognize that only the able, the competent, the thoughtful, in other words, “producers” can alleviate and solve such problems”. Here’s my thought on that Chuck, the “producers”, aka the private sector, has one and only one goal. That is to maximize profits for shareholders. They are not concerned with health care for citizens, they are not concerned with educating our children, they are not concerned with clean water or safe foods and drugs, they are not concerned with the nation’s infrastructure, they are not concerned with a level playing field on Wall Street, they are not concerned with the unemployed, they are not concerned with the survival of the Middle Class. They are laser focused on maximizing profits for the owners. AND, there is nothing wrong with that. It is NOT the job of the private sector to solve the nations problems !!! And this nation has some serious problems. Solving problems that the private sector can’t or won’t fix is the role of the public sector. The government has a critical role to play in our society. They should be a partner with the private sector.

          The article opened with the statement ” Government produces nothing.” I disagree. As a small example, when the federal government pays for a bridge, the project not only adds the value of the bridge, it allows the workers to increase their consumption and investment. The payroll they receive flows into the economy, creating demand for the goods and services produced by the private sector.

          If what the author of this American Thinker piece advocates for actually came to fruition, this country wouldn’t make it past the next generation.

          • chuck says:

            “OMG, Chuck. The American Thinker article you linked above qualifies more as comedy piece. The author clearly never took a class in macroeconomics, or at least passed it.”

            Does your degree in macroeconomics refute the fact that the richest, per capita city in the US is Washington DC?

            Does your degree obviate the stats related to salaries of Governmetn employees?

            ““Business people – both employers and employees alike – produce all of the services and products that provide our, as well as politicians and bureaucrats comfort, health, safety, and pleasure”. Our first responders might take issue with that.”

            Your afffective attempt to discredit the article, in no way negates the premise. God Bless First Responders, but, in fact, as necessary as they are, they in no way creat wealth, they sustain wealth. The disengenous appeal to emotion, by way of a select discipline, is part and parcel of not only the Liberal Narrative, but, in fact, your didactic, condescending positions.

            I have to go right now and this was extemporaneous, but…, I will get back to ya.

          • Stomper says:

            Thanks Chuck. Always appreciate the opportunity to trade ideas with you.

            Your premise that government, or those who work for government cannot and do not create wealth, is flawed. Google the question “can government create wealth” and read the first two or three pieces that come up.

          • Stomper says:

            Chuck, wish I did have a degree in macroeconomics as I would be creating a lot more wealth than I am now but I still refute the fact that DC is the richest per capita city in the US. It’s not but the highest salaries there go to private sector lobbyists buying votes from legislators, not government employees. When legislators leave office, that’s where they head.

            What I’d really like you to educate me on is the point made in the article that only the private sector can alleviate and solve the problems of the young, elderly, sick, disabled, and abused. How does that work? Sorry you think I’m condescending as I don’t mean to be. Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused when all I get is condescending positions from the Conservative Narrative.

      • chuck says:

        Here is the EXACT opposite opinion from the Huff.

        “This, of course, is simply wrong. In spite of the hardships brought on by the Great Recession that resulted from the reckless speculation of Wall Street banks — and even though George Bush thrust our country into an unnecessary war that cost our economy a trillion plus dollars — America is wealthier today than ever before in its history.

        Per capita income in America is at an all-time high because productivity per person has gone up 80 percent since 1979. ”

        Me, I am not feeling it and the numbers are not there.

        “Last week a conservative court ruled that by going through bankruptcy the city of Detroit could rid itself of its obligation under the state constitution to make good on its pension commitments to its retirees. ”

        Just my opinion, but using Detroit’s unceasing profligacy over teh decades as an excuse to pillory your political enemies for not continuing to aid and abet same, is an iffy strategy.

        Another quote-

        “It should surprise no one that the Republican Chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, is demanding that a budget deal with the Democrats include a 350 percent increase in pension contribution by all civilian federal employees. That would effectively mean a pay cut of about 2 percent for every federal worker. And that cut would come after a three-year pay freeze and multiple furloughs caused by the Republican “sequester.”

        OH MY GOD!!!! A 2% pay cut for Government employees!

        You get my drift…

  4. mike t. says:

    food for thought, paul… I don’t have stats, but all that “junk” mail, including your Hy-Vee circular and others, keep the USPS afloat. since I use direct mail for most of my lead generation, I’m kinda with the Dude on this one; I use it all the time and hope they don’t privatize it. it would be disastrous.

    • david says:

      Same here Mike. Direct mail essentially prints cash for my company. Too many years in telecom might have clouded Wilson’s judgement on the rest of the world.

      • mike t. says:

        yeah, kinda funny in a way that for all the hoopla over mobile app this and social marketing that, direct mail continues to outperform both and broadcast and print advertising as well.

        maybe not true for all products, services and initiatives, but at least in general.

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        David and Mike T, I have a host of things that have clouded my judgement; not just telecom!
        And sometimes….. I just like to stir the pot a little

  5. Rainbow Man says:

    I have been around long enough now to know that when you that making assumptions about another’s vocation is not cool, and can be embarrassing. That being said… The concept of a union is outdated. Unions seem to only flourish in government and very highly government regulated private entities.

  6. For Stomper says:

    DC Wealth–

    Total compensation for federal workers, including health care and other benefits, last year averaged $126,369, compared with $122,697 in 2009, according to Bloomberg News calculations of Commerce Department data. There were 170,467 federal employees in the District of Columbia as of June. The Washington area includes the District of Columbia, parts of Northern Virginia, eastern Maryland and eastern West Virginia.

    • Stomper says:

      Thanks Chuck. Besides being almost 3 years old, the article also mentions the high concentration of lobbyists and lawyers. Private sector salaries tilting the scale. Also mentions that the DC area has one of the highest disimilarity scales, difference between those at the top and those at the bottom. Regardless, this is not the point. You don’t think the government should employ anyone, at any salary. You don’t think anyone but the private sector creates wealth. Did you read those articles about “can government create wealth?”

      Chuck, my real desire in this exchange is to get you to identify what you accept as a valid role for government. I get it that you don’t like government, you don’t like taxes, you don’t like regulation. Is there anything you think the federal government should be involved in? Should the private sector watch Wall Street? educate our kids? insure clean drinking water, safe foods and drugs? fix roads, bridges, ports? natural gas and oil industry? I know you don’t think they should have any role in health care but the population sure seems to like the elimination of the pre-existing conditions. Private sector never wanted that clause. Even the GOP now embraces that “invasion” by the public sector.

      By the way, I love that you are reading the Huff Post. If you don’t like their broad attention to all news that even includes the Kardashians, just read the “Huff Post Politics” and the “Huff Post Hill”. They focus just on those two topics and grill the “Liberal Narrative” fairly often.

      Thanks as always for giving me a reason to comment.

    • Stomper says:

      Despite the fact that this was written by the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank created by Charles Koch, it was a solid piece put together to support their view of smaller government. I don’t dispute that there is waste in government, duplication of functions by different agencies, and unfair job security for ineffective workers. See, Chuck, we do have common ground. Again, my only point is that the federal government has a role to play and should be active in areas that the private sector can’t or won’t address. The federal government is not the enemy!!

      Thank goodness the founding fathers saw that at the Constitutional Convention, called because the Articles of Confederation weren’t cutting it. There was a need for a strong, central government. I think some on the far right might see Madison as a war criminal.

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