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I just saw this news on MSN and did a quick search to find out some background on the story.

Unions angered by Postal Service's Staples outlets

It seems the 4 Governors of the Post Office appointed Patrick Donahoe as the Post Master General and he has gone on to create a partnership with private corporations, specifically Staples, to hire minimum wage employees to do Postal Worker Jobs.

Privatization is king even at the Post Office these days.

The article linked above tells us that the Post Office is struggling financially yet fails to mention why.  

The Republican controlled Congress, in 2006 mandated that the Post Office prefund, for 75 years, all employee benefits!  No private or public agency has ever had to do that!

The Plot to Kill the Post Office...And Its Union Contracts

Rolando lays out the real root of the problem: "The problem lies elsewhere: the 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and do so within a decade, an obligation no other public agency or private firm faces. The roughly $5.5 billion annual payments since 2007 — $21 billion total — are the difference between a positive and negative ledger."
Included in that 2006 congressional mandate was the banning of the USPS from offering other services, such as copying, faxing, emailing and prepaid card services.  I never could understand why my local Post Office's copy machine never worked.  I asked one of the longtime employees there and he told me, "We don't own them anymore."

Recall the furor over the Post Master General's attempts to move them to a 5 day work week and close more than 3,700 locations throughout the US?  Donahoe claimed the move would save $3 billion.  This same man then tired to cut the employee benefits and remove postal employees and retirees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program completely.

This latest move is on par to destroy and then privatize the most successful government agency in our history and they're doing it on the backs of Union Employees.

Further background resources:

The Great Postal Giveaway USPS Sends Jobs, Work to Staples

Shock Doctrine at the US Postal Service is a manufactured crisis

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Comment Preferences

  •  hopefully, the union will prevail (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea, Tinfoil Hat, Dodgerdog1, JVolvo

    also, hopefully, our postal workers will stop giving us our neighbor's mail, and will also cease dropping rubber bands on our porch, next to the mailbox.
    A little courtesy by workers at the post office wouldn't hurt either.

  •  If ya want to understand how neoliberals (15+ / 0-)

    make government 'smaller' while funnelling more cash to corporations and devaluing labor,the deal with Staples provides a good starting point. Also,too see NSA privatizing.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:12:51 PM PST

  •  Someone (9+ / 0-)

    diaried on this awhile back and made note of how the Constitution dictates that we have a Post Office (wish I could remember who or exactly what the angle was--it may have done around the time of the threat to discontinue Saturday service?)

    Anyway, I can't figure out how anyone in Congress thinks they'll get around that dictate, to officially do away with the Postal Service altogether. I understand the 'defunding' part--I've been pissed about that since it happened in 2006 with the 75% mandate. But it'll be interesting to see what else Congress attempts to do. Privatization alone won't get them in line with the Constitution. Seems to me something else will be needed.

    Excellent diary! Slight aside--wasn't that requirement to fund benefits at 75% limited to the Postal Service pension funds? Not that it matters in the big picture, it's still breaking their back, I was just curious...

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:23:08 PM PST

    •  I'd say the goal is to (10+ / 0-)

      make the union look greedy,then superfluous (accomplished by having a two tier wage scale for the same duties,sows division & fear) until the union is broken. Then the USPS can exist as a figureheaded shell with an army of private,low wage workers. All in the name of government efficiency so that neolibs can get all patriotically verklempt over public/private partnerships.....while the mail deliverer can't figure out how to pay for his kid's education & the C-suite passes round the Cristal.

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:40:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I too thought that, fund them at 75% but it (6+ / 0-)

      was actually fully fund them for 75 YEARS.  This means they must put money away for employees that haven't been even hired yet.

      And do this "pre-funding" within 10 years.

      When you look at the numbers, Congress used this accounting mandate to steal USPS funds to hide Federal budget deficits.

      http://thinkprogress.org/...

      As consumer advocate Ralph Nader noted, if PAEA was never enacted, USPS would actually be facing a $1.5 billion surplus today
      http://savethepostoffice.com/...
      The plain and simple fact is that Congress, essentially the owner of the postal system, has extracted billions of dollars of profits and value from the Postal Service.  The bottom line is that the Postal Service is not only doing fine — its surpluses are being taken by Congress and used to mask other budget deficits.
      I'd say if they can do it for the post office, make them do this same "pre-funding" for all private corporations as well.

      Let's see how that would sit with Big Business that wants it all for themselves.

      -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

      by gerrilea on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:59:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  USPS did the best this season. (12+ / 0-)

    Let's face it,  Private enterprise was a miserable failure with deliveries this year while our postal workers were less than an hour or two behind schedule,  Fed-ex next day took three days and UPS was MIA.  My orders normally shipped UPS were switched to USPS and arrived on time.

    "I am my brothers keeper"

    by 2d on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:44:06 PM PST

    •  Agreed, my sister sent me a package for (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, wintergreen8694

      X-mas via UPS and it took over 2 weeks to get here.

      I was thinking I was never going to get it and thought for a brief moment she might be getting old and just thought she sent it to me.

      ;(

      It was mailed on 12-23-13, I got it on 1-14-14.

      -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

      by gerrilea on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:06:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You do know that both (0+ / 0-)

      Fed Ex and UPS are union right?  Also, consider that the majority of packages are sent UPS and Fed Ex over the holidays.  Saying that the the USPS performed better when its number were much lower for Christmas deliveries is an awful low bar.

      For the USPS to thrive it needs to change with the times.  It needs better, faster, and more consistent service.  I can drop off a package at UPS or Fed Ex and be done in 5 minutes...a trip to the post office is a 20 minute drive and a 30 minute wait in line.

      How about a USPS Savings and Loan?  Or a USPS internet provider? They need to do something because what they are doing isn't working.  I have not mailed a package with the USPS in 15 years, and haven't purchased a stamp in 3 years.  How can the USPS survive by sending me junk mail?  My bills come online, my family letters are on email and facebook.  The only real mail I receive anymore is Christmas cards and Birthday cards.

      •  Sadly, they were denied the ability to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eztempo, JVolvo

        diversify by Congress in 2006.

        http://www.fool.com/...

        Examples abound: plans to develop an online payment system in 2000 (Internet industry cried foul); public copy machines (office supply stores); in-store sales of phone cards and money transfers; selling postal meter cartridges (Pitney Bowes objected). And, of course, rivals such as UPS complained, ultimately leading Congress in 2006 to restrict USPS to mail delivery.

        -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

        by gerrilea on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:46:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Bernie Sanders talks about this a lot: RePug 2006 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gerrilea

        law forbids USPS from diversifying their services/products to meet 21st century consumer needs (can't have them competing with private sector!!).

        So, strangle their balance sheet with the 75-year $$$ mandate and refuse to allow them options to adapt.

        RePugs want USPS dead.  Period.

        Fun Fact: USPS receives ZERO funding in Fed budget; ie ZERO taxpayer funding.

        Pragmatic Centrists? meh. Clive all hat no horse Rodeo? He's cool ~ JV

        by JVolvo on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 11:27:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  .46 cents vs $6.26 and up (10+ / 0-)

    46 cents nationwide, doesn't matter where it's from or where it's going.

    VS

    $6.26 to over $30 depending on zone to/from. (quick look up of UPS rates)

    That's why conservatives want to kill the post office. Why should the govt be able to charge .46 cents to everyone (socialists!) when a big corp can profit with more than 10x times (and up!) what the govt entity does. Also that the gov can pay a living wage with benefits even with that low cost. A post office job is considered to be a good job, or it used to be anyways.

    The post office proves the govt can do it better than a private corporation. This just cannot BE.

    "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

    by solesse413 on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:49:28 PM PST

  •  This story is so f*@&ing sad and pathetic... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea, cai, ladybug53, tardis10, JVolvo

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:00:42 PM PST

  •  They would love to privatize the postal office, (5+ / 0-)

    we've known that for awhile.  But this, this never would have occurred to me.

    Clearly I don't have what it takes to be a corporate overlord.  

    Which is comforting.

    © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:05:26 PM PST

  •  The Union can STRIKE nationwide or they (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    ... are done.

    Congress (republicans) are doing everything they can to pick them off and ultimately put them on the street as it is.

    Grow a pair of balls and STRIKE. Stand the hell up for yourselves before it is over.

    •  A national strike could go either way when (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, tardis10, VClib, eztempo, JVolvo

      it comes to public support of the Post Office.

      While I'd love to see our labor force "grow a pair", we'd be destroyed in the corporately owned media.

      We have to create support for them from the bottom up, a grassroots movement, so to speak.

      -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

      by gerrilea on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:45:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A bit of historical perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, wintergreen8694

    In many communities, for many many years, the general store or tavern was also the post office -- selling stamps and weighing packages and handing out letters ("general delivery") provided a bit of extra, and steady, income for a community institution, and there really wasn't enough business to have a separate full-time employee just to sell stamps. I assume there still are some of these.

    Grocery stores sell stamps, and some of them have a little PO substation. So do college student unions. And they're open longer hours than post offices are.

    Staples has FedEx. Why shouldn't it also have USPS?

    I understand the union issue. But frankly, I appreciate someone who is thinking creatively about how to provide USPS service where customers are looking for it, rather than in the big 1930s-era buildings all the way downtown and only during business hours.

    •  The historical perspective is that the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eztempo, JVolvo

      Post Office helped create small town America.

      It is the oldest agency we have, created before the actual Revolutionary War.

      While our society changes, the USPS has been denied that ability by Congress itself. They've laid off over 700,000 people, they're down to just 570.000 employees.

      Those brick and mortar buildings we all paid for by keeping in touch with one another.  The Post Office was never funded by Congress.  It was always self-sustaining.

      Our Republican congress has all but destroyed this to enhance private for-profit corporations we will never be able to control.

      -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

      by gerrilea on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:04:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  All this while strangling largest public employee (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gerrilea

        union and largest employer of AAs while siphoning that $5.5 billion per year $$ mandate and "proving" their bullshit that govt can't do things well.

        Fucking Bastards.

        Pragmatic Centrists? meh. Clive all hat no horse Rodeo? He's cool ~ JV

        by JVolvo on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 11:30:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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