Friday, March 5, 2010

Economy Can Handle Fewer Postal Workers

One of the arguments that postal labor unions will make to try to stop some of the changes that the Postal Service wants to introduce will be the impact on employment.  The employment argument resonated while the economy was shedding jobs.  In a weak job market, excess postal employees would have difficulty finding jobs.

This appears to no longer be the case.   The February figure reported today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed positive signs for jobs that reinforced reports of the previous two months. Sector by Sector data shows that almost all of the decline came from construction employment that is  easily explained by the snow storms that occurred during the week when the data was collected. Manufacturing employment rose.   Government employment declined with most of the decline occurred at the local level at public schools and at the national level at the Postal Service. Other good signs were the results of surveys that indicated that people are no longer settling for part time jobs because they cannot find full time jobs and a spike in temporary jobs which usually is precursor of growth in full time jobs.

This reports suggests that the Postal Service could shed jobs at a rate faster than attrition over the next 10 years and current employees who are asked to retire early or take severance should be able to find jobs in the private sector in the near term and public sector in one or two years when tax revenue begins to rise again.  Most encouraging for Postal employees are growth in sectors that could use employees with the strong work ethic of postal production employees and the management skills that postal supervisors, postmasters and higher level managers have.

As the economy can handle a decline in Postal Service employment, it may be time to begin thinking about accelerating the proposed changes in the operating and retail networks that will both cut costs and improve service.  In doing so, the Postal Service may help preserve its market position with those business-to-consumer correspondence, advertising and parcel delivery customers that are critical for its survival over the next decade.   While the Postal Service cannot stop the impact of broadband access and increased preference for digital receipt of documents by businesses and households, focusing on these two items first reduces the risk of accelerating the shift to digital delivery that exists with switching to 5-day delivery or annual exigent rate cases raising rates by 2-4% above the rate of inflation would have.

Accelerating these changes has major obstacles due to the effect that they will have on members of the American Postal Workers and Mailhandlers unions and among supervisor and Postmaster management associations.   These changes will reduce their membership and require changes in work rules to increase the share of part time employees to reflect the nature of work in an operating network that will work to minimize the time that any piece of mail spends inside a plant.  The shift in retail to contract stations will reduce the need for traditional postmasters as the number of corporate retail outlets shrink.

To overcome these obstacles the unions and management associations as well as the Postal Service need to think creatively as the changes give employees the best long-term prospects for secure jobs and customers a clearer path forward to plan their continued use of mail.   No industry undergoing competitive changes similar to what the Postal Service now experiences did so simply through reducing workforce and changing work rules through attrition.  In all industries, employees bearing the pain of transformation were given significant financial incentives that allowed change to occur at a rate faster than what attrition would allow.

Unions and management will need to determine the incentives that will be required for full time employees to leave employment that could be applied on a location-by-location basis as the new networks are implemented as well as the incentives that may be needed nationwide to raise the share of part-time employees to 30% or more.   These incentives are the plan B that unions need as soon as they realize that stonewalling change is not a viable negotiating or political strategy.


In addition to similar incentives, management associations need to think about working with management to transform job descriptions  For examples postmasters could incorporate management and financial responsibility for contract retail outlets. Having two competing management silos for corporate and non-corporate retail outlets do not seem to be a sensible way to improve the competitiveness of the Postal Service's retail products in communities that have both types of outlets.  The addition of this new responsibility could require upgrading the salaries of postmasters and some supervisors to reflect the increased responsibility.

Neither the Postal Service nor unions are discussing their negotiating strategy publicly and management associations are concerned about the road ahead.   Neither side can afford to allow the negotiations and /or arbitration process to drag out as the long term prospects of postal jobs and Postal Service requires quick resolution of the difficult issues at hand.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Robinson really thinks that postal managers have viable skills that a private company would want. Mr. Robinson come and spend a dozen years as a postal employee and then maybe you will a small idea of what you are talking about rather than reading your useless diatribe.

anymanhere said...

There was no thought process in your comment because almost all postal management comes from craft. So what does that say about you?

Anonymous said...

"Management Skills of Postmasters and Supervisors"---what skills??? Look at all the company mailrooms with retired postal management in place. They suddenly become the lowest employee in any company, passing around letters to other employees. Remember that real companies value education, and few in postal management have a four- year college education!!!

Anonymous said...

All the educated employees are in craft positions--managers are afraid of anyone with a college degree, and seem to promote only relatives and friends. Why do you think we're in this position financially???

Anonymous said...

At one time I thought you had some idea about the workings of the USPS, but with this story it is clear you have no idea what is going on any P.O. workroom floor. Seems like you are getting your info from a management person who has never been on the workroom floor except to take a yearly tour.

Ray said...

The economy can handle a lot fewer editors,writers and newspapers also!Careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Robinison's following comment is most amusing. All but a very few USPS craft and management employees have what he calls a strong work ethic or management skills.

Most of the postal folks I knew during a 44 year career had nothing but contempt for their employer and just spent their energies on a counter productive mindset, focusing on the number of years till retirement. For those who did possess applicable skill sets and provide positive contribution, were often passed over for promotion in favor of the "good old boy" network and sexual favors.

"Most encouraging for Postal employees are growth in sectors that could use employees with the strong work ethic of postal production employees and the management skills that postal supervisors, postmasters and higher level managers have".

Anonymous said...

most of them where diapers and couldnt make it in private industry.

joe said...

what a bunch of crap...management needs to be cut that is where the big money goes and is wasted ups has 1 supervisor for every 70 workers post office has 1 for every 20..cut bonuses too let them live on 1.5 percent raises that the craft avg ..no bonus will improve work relations and the lies to meet the bonus numbers

anymanhere said...

The higher you go in this company like most other companies the more education you need. And really high end jobs in our company do require college degrees. You people need to stop shooting from the hip and really know what you are talking about instead of using this forum to spew venom about the company that educates you children, pays your bills and affords you the opportunity to have the time to write these comment. Why don't you quit and use your education that you seem to talk about and make more money. We both know why, it's not that easy. Keep talking, that seems to be all that you are good for, keep complaining that seems to be what you are good at or went to school for.....

Anonymous said...

Yeah right! There's plenty of jobs out there. Just look at that unemployment rate shrinking daily. What a bunch of morons!

Anonymous said...

You lost me with this statement : management skills that postal supervisors, postmasters and higher level managers have.

I just retired after 35 years and my two associate degrees are more than 85% of all managment types. My last supervisor had a G.E.D. Why would they leave for any reason. THEY DO NOTHING MORE THAN INPUT DATA FOR THIER DISTRICTS. You put the wrong data in (Sorry the real data does not cut it) and District is on the phone 20 seconds after you hit the send button telling you to change that figure. They give themselves bonuses under PFP which might be ok during normal times but THEY WROTE THE RULES FOR HOW TO MAKE PFP and this is while they have lost 11 Billion to date. What a great place to work !!! God help us all.

Jim in Amarillo, Tx

Anonymous said...

Management skills what a joke. Most of the management in my institution got their job by darts,golf, drinking, looks, or in the case of women by sex or if you were a relative. At our institution the management would violate the contract and the unions would file and receive compensations in the millions. No person in management was ever fired for their actions. They say that " they can mismanage". They move or take out equipment and then they determine well we really needed it. It cost a lot of money to move or take out. They contract private companies and pay more than using postal workers. Until you have someone who knows what they are doing for the bottom line they will be in financial trouble. You have management types to justify their jobs they develop stupid programs such as the mystery shopper. Buying house of management and selling them at a loss. Buying tickets to sporting events. Overpaying the Post master general $800,000 bonus. Look how well he is doing. Fire him and all the vice presidents. One vice presidents retired he was replace by 2. Accepting that the big mailers won't cheat in bringing their mail without people checking the load by BMEU employees. They lose a lot of money in the millions. The on line post office causes millions of dollars to be lost because the stamp cannot be read by the acceptance employee. Are we losing money yes because of management that does notknow how to manage.

anymanhere said...

I think your frustration comes from not using those two degrees you have. Also if all management does is input data and you don't think that requires education, then what's the problem. You have 35 years and I have 26. We have both been around the block. I also note that you mention that you retired. You stayed 35 years... I guess it wasn't all that bad.......

anymanhere said...

Oh yeah by the way, If you are retired, you are getting paid to write negetive comments about the company that is paying you for the rest of your life that most people won't ever get a chance to experience, and the company has been around for 235year, but the ride is over. Here comes the internet. None of us can stop change....

Anonymous said...

What was the outcome of the last VERA incentive?

Anonymous said...

Who ever posted that the P.O has 1 supervisor for every 20 employees is absolutely stupid. I am a supervisor and, have the responsibility of over 100 employees. And it's just me.

Anonymous said...

I work in a office with 10 full city routes and a 4 hour aux route. We have 2 supervisors every day for the full shift. Oh and the reason is so the postmaster can maintain his high level. If we went to just 1 supervisor his level of pay would drop. This is one reason we are in this financial fix