Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Postmaster General doesn't get it

So maybe you've heard . . . the Post Office is kind of out of money. PMG Donohoe is telling anyone who will listen that when our fiscal year ends in September, we'll have enough cash to keep working for only about another week. Then it's no job, no mail delivery, a couple of hundred thousand workers added to the unemployment rolls.

There's quite a bit of sturm und drang around work over this . . . obviously, and now we're getting little dvd updates from the PMG about what's going on and so forth.

In today's video missive, Donohoe points out how mail volumes have declined about 20% over the last four years with a concurrent decline in first class volume of 26%. He conveniently leaves out the increase in parcels and express mail, but as with global warming hysterics, he's trying to paint the gloomiest picture possible.

The PMG races through a list of things we (that is us rank and file types) are going to have to endure to keep the PO viable, including more route adjustments to offset what they believe will be a steady decline in mail volume -- they're assuming the same rate of decline as seen the last four years. Setting aside the foolishness of assuming a linear rate of decline, I got the impression the PMG was suggesting we begin increasing route sizes now, to prepare for a future volume decline.

Here's my thing -- we've already increased route sizes nearly 20% over the last two years. And as I was on the route adjustment teams, I am expertly qualified to point some things out here. A carrier can only cover so much territory in an 8 hour day. The whole point of the adjustments was to right-size the routes, that is, remove any undertime to maximize efficiency. And we've done that. Mail volume cannot drop low enough to create significant undertime again.

And let's assume they just arbitrarily increase route sizes again, by 20%, and suggest we manage the mail to keep ourselves to 8 hour days. Unlikely, but this is just an instructive scenario here. The best example of what would happen can be seen with our competitor -- UPS. On a normal day, the UPS guy has no problem getting done with his hundred or so deliveries. But when Christmas season is upon them . . . yeah, that's when you see the big brown trucks out until 10 at night.

But they're allowed to do that. We are not. We have the five o'clock window of operations to deal with. An inviolate off-the-street time that is cause for discipline if it is broken. So how are we supposed to get all the mail delivered when they won't give us the time to do it? And we won't have extra personel because they've decreased the work force to save money. Do we just not deliver the extra stuff? How is that good customer service?

Missed in all this is a quicky mention of the possible closing of 300 of the 500 mail processing centers. Wow! That's 60% of the facilities! If volume is so low that we can reduce processing capacity by 60%, then why do we have so much personel employed by mail processing?

The PMG also mentioned when he first came on board, that he found three duplicate levels of management/administration in the Post Office. Wow! That's a lot of unecessary bodies too! I could also point out here how delivery supervisors have nothing to do once the last carrier hits the street every day. So basically they just sit around getting paid at their supervisor's pay rate to answer the phone, surf the web, go to lunch, smoke cigarettes, etc.

Something could be done in those couple of areas that would save tons of money without overwhelming the workers sweating in the 110 degree Florida sun every day!

But no, PMG Donohoe is dutifully trumpeting the same old nonsense we've been listening to for years -- cut down office time, make the routes bigger, more automation (like we could afford that!), and so on. I had some hopes for this guy when he first came in, but like his predecessor, Donohoe seems only interested in making a name for himself and riding things out until he can collect his golden parachute retirement package.

No comments: