Letter Carriers and the Postal deficit.

Saturday mail delivery? No such service. No such luck.
The drop in mail has left the U.S. Postal Service scrambling for ways to generate revenue and manage its projected $7 billion deficit.
“I used to have three to four trays full of mail,” Chris Johnson said. “Now I have one to two trays per day.”
Johnson, 58, has been a letter carrier for 24 years and 14 of those years in Fort Myers.
He said the business needs to change soon or things could get worse.
In an attempt to cut costs the USPS has proposed several options to congress. These include consolidating branches and districts, receiving funds from the government, and not delivering mail on Saturdays.
According to a National League of Postmasters (NLP) report, USPS is losing $20 million daily on operation costs. At the end of the year USPS might miss its financial obligations and have a $7 billion deficit.
In an open letter to the NPL members, NPL President Charles Mata wrote, “We would not deliver to rural or city routes and we would deliver Express Mail as normal, and we could certainly come up with an intelligent way to deal with Priority Mail.”
The letter also mentioned various retail stations would remain open with one postal employee assisting customers.
According to Johnson this move could cut the USPS work force by 20 percent. “Twenty percent of our work force might be gone with Saturdays,” Johnson said.
Asides from lay-offs, the union members are worried the lack of a Saturday service might propel competition. “Since we wouldn’t deliver on Saturdays they could take some of our (work).”
According to Johnson, if a company wanted to distribute mail locally they could make an argument and use USPS mailboxes. And that is something the union and USPS members do not want.
Drew Von Bergen, director of public relation for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), said the loss of a day would be the start of a domino effect.
“Once you do it, it opens the door for more days,” Von Bergen said.
According to Von Bergen many companies depend on the USPS delivering on Saturdays.
“Our customers know people are home on the weekends,” Van Bergen said.
Fort Myers and Cape Coral Postmaster, Anne Murray declined to speculate on the five-day workweek and its effects.
“I’m not a proponent of either or,” Murray said. “If the state says ‘yes’ (to the day change), I’ll support it.”
According to USPS spokesman Gary Sawtelle, the move could help the postal service save $3.5 billion a year.
In the last year the USPS has made several mandatory cuts in operations to lower its deficit.
According to a released statement by Sawtelle, in March 20th the USPS started to cut 50 million work hours in the last year, halted construction of new postal facilities, it has frozen salaries of all Postal Service officers and executives, reduced authorized staffing levels at postal headquarters and area offices by at least 15 percent, adjusted Post Office hours to better reflect customer use, consolidated mail processing operations, and reached agreements with NLP to adjust letter carrier routes to reflect diminished volume.
These cost cutting adjustments are expected to save the USPS $100 million yearly.
Currently the USPS has approached congress with a proposal to consider closing about 700 postal branches out of the 32,000 nationwide.
In Florida, the Central Florida district started its consolidation in March 20th and is being absorbed by the Suncoast district and South Florida district in an effort to save $8 million, said Sawtelle.
Currently, the Miracle Mile Station on 3954 Broadway St. in Fort Myers, Golden Gate branch on 11665 Collier Blvd in Naples, Naples Downtown Station on 860 6th Avenue South in Naples, and Vanderbilt Beach branch on 851 Vanderbilt Beach Rd. in Naples are being evaluated for consolidation.
If the Miracle Mile Station were to close, the workload would be absorbed by the letter carriers in the Downtown Fort Myers branch located on 1350 Monroe St.
According to Sawtelle each branch will be evaluated individually based on service standards, cost savings, customer access, real estate values, impact on employees, and long-term needs of the Postal Service.
Another way the USPS and NLP have tried to cut its deficit without affecting their work force is by supporting proposal HR 22.
From 2006 to 2016 the USPS is required to spend more than $5 billion per year as for the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.
What HR 22 would do is let the Postal Service pay for health care benefits for existing retirees from its Retiree Health Benefit Fund rather than the operating budget.
According to NLP this option could save the Postal Service an average of $3.5 billion per year over the next eight years.
Mata said if the HR 22 bill passes, Congress would then give the USPS about $2.3 billion in relief on the payment into the fund.
On the service side the USPS is trying to limit its deficit is by focusing on new customers and parcel deliveries.
According to Murray the Postal Act of 2006 limits their ability to raise stamp prices, but the USPS can determine its own rates when it comes parcels.
“We are more aggressive and competitive in our prices,” Murray said.
She also mentioned the USPS has become environmentally friendly.
According to Murray the USPS has placed more recycle bins at its locations in an attempt to generate money from recyclable waste.
They are also test-driving electric cars in a way to cut on gasoline costs and CO2 emissions.
According to Deborah Fetterly, USPS communications programs specialist, Key West, Hollywood and Ocala postal offices are testing each one electronic vehicle.
The T-3 is made by a California based company named T-3 Motion and costs 25 cents per day to operate, while a regular gas vehicle costs $25.
According to Fetterly each T-3 costs $14,000 and can travel about 40 miles with a maximum speed of 12 mph. At this speed the car will last the whole four- to 12-mile mail route.
Currently there are 36,000 alternative fuel vehicles in the USPS fleet.
According to govenergy.com there were 215,000 USPS vehicles in 2007.
That’s a daily operation cost of $5.4 million, while an electric fleet would cost $54,000 to operate.
In a 312 letter carrier work year that’s $1.7 billion for gas operated vehicles compared to $17 million the Postal Service would spend on T-3 electronic vehicles.
Fetterly said due to the present economic climate the USPS has stopped ordering the T-3.
Since Congress regulates the USPS, they have the final say in all proposal and bills.
Currently NLP members are in Washington D.C. discussing proposals in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee hearings.
On Thursday during a hearing, Independent Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, said Congress and the USPS will depend on drastic measures to overcome this financial crisis.
“This dizzying downward spiral could become a death spiral,” Lieberman said.

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