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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sign o' the times

We love our mail carrier. The guy has gone out of his way for us many times. But it looks as though our changing world is causing some changes to his world. In our mailbox today we found this:

We sighed and felt sorry for whoever's losing their job. Then we sat down at the computer and paid our mortgage on line.

Comments (15)

So far we've lucked out. Mail, which used to come close to 5 p.m., is now through the slot by 11, and into the recycling bin before lunch.

No wonder these guys are losing money. I received the same postcard. Is this card supposed to tell me something?

It is telling you the days of regular mail delivery are gone. My mail comes anytime b/t 10 and 6. You see, my street no longer has a regular delivery person. We get dumped on someone different every day and they deliver whenever it fits into their schedule.

Like mp, we also don't have predictable service. It may come any time between 9:30 and 5:30, and the Customer Service people say there's nothing they can do about it. (although apparently it's required to be delivered before 5 pm and if we document it, we can register a complaint against the offending letter carrier.)

An acquaintance is a letter carrier in Milwaukie. His wife says that he's getting harassed by his supervisors, and he's sure that it's because he's pretty high on the seniority--and pay--scale and they're hoping he'll quit so they can pay somebody else less.

Waiting for the day when some start up company will put the final nail in their coffin, by creating a business around opening, scanning, and then emailing our snail mail to our inboxes.

Already exists Harry. Business started right here in Oregon. See www.earthclassmail.com. Bob Wiggins

I keep wondering when they will finally stop delivering mail on saturdays. And I 've lost count of the times my office building has received mail - usually delivered by a sub - after 5:00 P.M.

I don't think we realize how much has changed to the core of our economy in such a short period of time... it's unprecedented. I wonder if, job-wise, we're in for a permanent correction... maybe we're too efficient for our own good. I'm hoping we just need more time to adapt.


The letter carrier is rarely the offender. These guys work for one of the worst employers on the planet with management from hell. It's also an aging work force. Older carriers who are out for one reason or another (and some stations, University among them, are top-heavy with these folks) have their route handed out willy nilly to whoever can pick up pieces of it after finishing their own or to PTFs who are run off of their feet and often let go for one or two innocent mistakes.

Customers beg for a regular carrier. They despair of explaining again and again where they want their mail delivered. In the west hills, delivery is an art because of gates, unusual locations like icebox hatches, around the back delivery, many stairs, etc. and someone filling in is not usually given the opportunity to look at the regular carrier's route book before being hustled out the door in order to deliver before dark. If you are filling in on a route with apartment buildings with inside boxes that you can't access with the generic "arrow" key provided and the regular carrier is already out with the apartment keys on his belt, you have to beg tenants to get into the building, wasting more time. Small wonder than many seasoned carriers take as long as possible to complete their rounds so as not to have to deal with bits and pieces of others' routes. And in the suburbs, some of the regular routes are being subbed out to contractors who never learned how to properly delivery mail and aren't bound by any sort of postal training or integrity.

Where carriers used to be able to case all of their mail and have a hand free for safety's sake, they must now carry a stack of machine sorted mail, a stack of mail that must be cased by hand, a stack of advos (junk mail) usually on Tuesday, plus packages. Because the machined mail is often miscast into the carriers' boxes and it continues coming in the morning, carriers must return multiple times to pick it up while casing, checking their vehicles, banding and packaging mail bins and trying to deal with supervisor questions about how long this is all going to take.

And demerits if you are a PTF, tailed by a manager and don't use a handrail! Or don't eat lunch even if you are not really given any time to do so. All this 6 out of 7 days a week and the skills accumulated in this line of work really don't qualify you to do anything else.

People think the pay makes up for the rest. Carriers (particularly those who delivery on foot) aren't paid enough for the physical and mental toll the job takes and I appreciate my carrier more than I can say.

Ever notice that managers and supervisors never "go postal?"

The Post Office. Amtrak. General Motors. Fannie Mae. Ginnie Mae.

How many more fine examples are there of the federal government's involvement in running a business?

NW Portlander, Thank you for the explanation of the system. Our latest "permanent" letter carrier was recently given our street as a "thank you present" for covering his own route so efficiently. He was a hard worker so they honored him with more work. He's awfully nice, and the days he's on, we get our mail by about 10 am. I asked him about the delivery time discrepancy, and he said it's on his days off and there's a sub. But his days off rotate, so it's never the same days two weeks in a row.

Being married to a City employee who tries to do his work diligently, I totally understand how bureaucracy creates inefficiency!

Carriers (particularly those who delivery on foot) aren't paid enough for the physical and mental toll the job takes and I appreciate my carrier more than I can say.

My dad was a carrier for over 30 years. He walked neighborhoods for over 20. Retired early at 57. He actually made really good money, and in the later years, had 13 weeks a year of vacation. When he retired he had over 2 years worth of sick and vacation time accumulated that was left over to roll into his retirement. I dont think its as bad as you think...

What you're experiencing in Portland are the impacts of route evaluations and route restructurings initiated to capture savings related to steep volume declines and to optimize the delivery network.

Route restructurings alone won't be enough to return the postal system to financial self-sufficiency.

Postal Service management is pushing for 5-day delivery, which must be approved by Congress. Except for the unions, opposition to 5-day delivery is softening





"Ever notice that managers and supervisors never "go postal?""

I also don't see UPS or FedEx guys go postal and they work beyond their shifts all the time.

Face it, USPS has 50% the volume they did 10 yrs ago and we keep needing to throw billions every year at them to make up for the deficit.

If they offered a competitive product (which they are just starting to price competitiviely), they'd be in business still.

Jon, I don't know when your dad took early retirement or what station he worked out of but if he was on the job for 30 years he was a carrier before the changes began in the Reagan years. Yes, the benefits are good.

There are some good stations and facilities. If he was fortunate enough to work at one, that's great.

As for many other USPS stations, I don't think - I KNOW - it can be bad. The funny thing is, anybody who hasn't worked for the PO doesn't believe it's not your typical next door neighbor employer.

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