All Articles Tagged "US Postal Service"

The US Postal Service Has Slowed Mail Delivery

April 27th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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AP Photo/Seth Perlman

AP Photo/Seth Perlman

No, you’re not imagining it. It does, in fact, take longer for letters to get to their destination via snail mail. Since January, letters that used to be delivered overnight are now taking an extra day or two to reach their destination.

The slowdown is the result of far less volume (people are sending fewer things by USPS) and processing plant closures. The Postal Service closed 150 plants to save $865 million and another 82 starting in January to save an additional $750 million.

The USPS has had billion-dollar budget shortfalls in recent years, prompting the agency to ask Congress for help. It wanted to cut Saturday service all together, but an outcry prevented that measure.

Former postmaster general Patrick Donahoe argued, just before he retired earlier this year, that the longer delivery times only affect between 2.5 percent and four percent of the mail anyway. “So you can’t hold an entire system hostage and continue to run up debt and continue to avoid making investments over 2 percent to 4 percent of the mail,” he told the National Press Club.

However, the USPS’ own numbers say the impact is on 16 percent of mail. And even then, many times the mail took longer, sometimes up to five days.

I don’t really send or receive too much mail these days with the exception of regular magazine deliveries or Netflix. (Yes, I know, everyone streams. Can I live?) It might just mean that everyone has to recalibrate how long it takes things to get to where they’re going after they drop it in the mailbox.

Have you noticed a difference?

US Postal Service Reports a $5 Billion Loss, Asks Congress For Help

November 17th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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This letter carrier put out a house that was on fire then continued on his route, FYI. via @USPS

This letter carrier put out a house that was on fire then continued on his route, FYI. via @USPS

The U.S. Postal Service is still suffering from painful blows to their economic growth. Post office officials reported a $5 million loss over the past year and they’re begging Congress to pass legislation to rectify their financial crisis, ABC News reports.

USPS is blaming a 2006 congressional decree for their financial troubles: the mandate forced the Postal Service to cover health care plans for future retirees. The additional $5.6 billion per year that services retired employees caused the federal agency to default on three of those annual payments.

“Postal officials have been pressing Congress to let the agency end Saturday mail delivery and reduce the payments for retiree health benefits,” ABC News adds, “But prospects for a legislative fix are increasingly unlikely this year.”

The Post Service is also urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to raise the rate of postage stamps from 46 cents to 49 cents.

USPS has made significant cuts in the agency saving them $1 billion. They reduced their workforce by 37,400, consolidated 143 mail processing centers, eliminated 1,400 delivery routes, and changed retail hours in 7,000 locations. “The $5 billion loss is less than a third of the record $15.9 billion loss the Postal Service reported last year,” ABC News noted.

This is the Postal Service’s seventh consecutive year of reporting an annual loss — despite a 1.2 percent growth in 2008 due to gains in package delivery and standard mail. However, the slight increase in revenue just couldn’t offset the losses from the Postal Service’s 2.4 percent decline in first class mail — the agency’s most profitable sector.

“We’ve achieved some excellent results for the year in terms of innovations, revenue gains and cost reductions, but without major legislative changes, we cannot overcome the limitations of our inflexible business model,” said Patrick Donahoe, the USPS Postmaster General.

By “innovations,” Donahoe may be referring to USPS’s new deal with Amazon to ship off deliveries on Sunday. As more internet users rely on e-mail for communication, the USPS suffers — but the agency discovered a silver lining as online purchases began to boom. Their collaboration with the large online retailer might just be what the Postal Service needs to gain ground in the business.

Thanks To Amazon’s Deal With US Postal Service, Packages Coming Sundays

November 12th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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via Facebook

via Facebook

Amazon is making our lives much more convenient this holiday season. In collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), customers can now make Sunday deliveries — at no extra cost, The Huffington Post reports.

Thanks to this new service, customers who have Amazon Prime — a paid membership that provides users with free two-day shipping — can order an item on Friday and receive it on Sunday. “Customers outside of Prime will pay the standard shipping costs associated with business day delivery,” LA Times adds.

Previously, making deliveries on Sundays left the customer with expensive fees. Now, the shipping costs will remain the regular rate for weekend packaging.

“As online shopping continues to increase, the Postal Service is very happy to offer shippers like Amazon the option of having packages delivered on Sunday,” Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said in a statement.

“It’s going to be hard for others to replicate,” said Dave Clark, vice president of Amazon’s worldwide operations and customer service. The world’s largest online retailer and USPS has slayed its competition with its new collaboration. Unlike USPS, FedEx doesn’t consider Sunday to be a regular delivery day, which means higher fees. And the United Parcel Service doesn’t even send off packages on Sundays.

“The deal could be a boon for the postal service, which has been struggling with mounting financial losses and has been pushing to limit general letter mail delivery to five days a week,” LA Times adds. According to USA Today, USPS lost $15.9 billion last year. This year, they’re expecting a 12 percent increase in profits.

As for Amazon, Clark notes that he doesn’t know of any other online retailer that has done “broad-scale” deliveries on Sundays. Walmart doesn’t plan to ship on Sundays, but the retail giant is testing same-day delivery services. Google is testing the same service, calling it Google Shopping Express, for residents in Los Angeles.

While USPS and Amazon may broaden their customer base, the downside is the heavier influx of packages for both corporations. Amazon is spending billions of dollars to build new warehouses around the world to deliver packages more efficiently. And USPS is relying on “its flexible scheduling of employees” to handle the mail load. They are not planning to hire new employees, perhaps the only negative news in all this..

Sunday deliveries are now available for Los Angeles and New York City. Amazon plans to expand the new service to other cities after 2014.

Postmaster Says USPS Is Losing $25 Million Every Day

April 18th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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AP Photo/David Goldman

AP Photo/David Goldman

Update: A week after the USPS announced that it will continue with full six-day service after all, the Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe says the postal service is losing $25 million every day. In public remarks, he blamed the government for not letting the USPS change its business model to meet the needs of consumers, says The Huffington Post.

“Any private sector company could quickly adapt to the market changes we have experienced, and remain profitable. However, we do not have all of the flexibility we need to adapt to a changing marketplace,” Donohoe said in a statement. Besides reducing the number of delivery days, he suggests greater flexibility with pricing, products, and its employee benefits.

The question is what exactly we need from the USPS these days. It’s certainly not tons and tons of stamps.

Previously: The US Postal Service is reversing its earlier decision to put an end to Saturday delivery starting August 1, owing to a provision in the stopgap budget that Congress passed that prevents it. (The Government Accountability Office believes the budget requires six-day-per-week service.)

The USPS board said it “has no choice” but to delay the termination of Saturday service and doesn’t want to “unduly burden” business owners with uncertainty.

California’s Republican Congressman Darrell Issa criticized the move as “politically motivated,” saying the delivery of parcel packages would fulfill the requirement, reports The Washington Post

“Despite some assertions, it’s quite clear that special interest lobbying and intense political pressure played a much greater role in the Postal Service’s change of heart than any real or perceived barrier to implementing what had been announced,” Rep. Issa said. I’m wondering what sort of special interests are involved with snail mail. Maybe the fashion industry?

The USPS lost $15.9 billion last year and clearly needs help.


The USPS Has A New Side Hustle: Selling Its Own Line of Clothing “Rain Heat & Snow”

February 20th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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AP Photo/David Goldman

AP Photo/David Goldman

You know we’re all about making a little extra money on the side. But the US Postal Service might be on the wrong route with this one.

As we know, the USPS is cutting Saturday service starting August 1 in an effort to save money. Now they’re branching out into fashion in an effort to bring in additional revenue. The agency has partnered with Ohio company Wahconah Group to create “Rain Heat & Snow,” a line that will start out exclusively for men and, according to The Verge, involve some sort of “wearable electronics.”

“This agreement will put the Postal Service on the cutting edge of functional fashion,” Postal Service Corporate Licensing Manager Steven Mills is quoted saying.

Business Insider says the USPS will get a portion of the sales, and won’t have to spend any money on the line.

The men’s line will be available Spring 2014 and a women’s line will follow shortly after.

Other more logical suggestions for the USPS to make money have been shipping beer and offering check cashing services. On that last one, it seems that would make the most sense since you can already purchase a money order at the post office. Sometimes going with the more obvious option is the better decision.

No More Mail on Saturdays: The Postal Service Will Cut Deliveries Starting August 1

February 6th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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AP Photo/Nick Ut, File

AP Photo/Nick Ut, File

In its ongoing efforts to staunch the bleeding in its budget, the US Postal Service announced that Saturday delivery service will cease starting on August 1. Packages will be delivered, but homes and businesses will no longer receive other kinds of mail. Package delivery has been up over the past few years, so the USPS decided not to put it on the chopping block.

According to Time, the USPS would like to use the reduced service to save $2 billion. Post offices that are open on that day will stay open.

However, attempts to cut service met with reservations from Congress, says The Wall Street Journal. The agency has already closed postal facilities and cut tons of jobs to reduce costs. Last year, the paper says, the USPS “hemorrhaged” $15.9 billion, in large part because of a $11.1 billion default on health benefits for retirees. Other changes are expected to be announced today.

The US Postal Service has been important to the black community, providing many jobs that have pushed African Americans into the middle class. As we reported previously, about 20 percent of postal service workers are black, and the average salary for a postal worker is in the $55,000 per year range.

She Worked Hard For Her Money: Woman Goes 44 Years Without Using a Sick Day

January 31st, 2013 - By CAP
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AP Photo/Seth Perlman

AP Photo/Seth Perlman

Can you imagine going one year without using a sick day at your job? Now imagine not using a sick day for 44 years! Well, today Ms. Deborah Ford is retiring from the U.S. Postal Service after going 44 years without using any of her sick days.

The cutest thing is that Ms. Ford doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. According to ABC News Ford told reporters, “I was trying to do the best I could, and that just evolved into working all my scheduled days.”

She says when she was sick she would just “shake it off,” and for doctors appointments she would use vacation days.

They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. You rarely see this kind of workplace commitment. Although, shaking it off doesn’t seem like the best method for recovery or keeping the rest of the office from getting sick, I respect the dedication.

Ford, who is 64 years old, will be retiring in her home town of Detroit from her job in payroll and timekeeping management for the city’s main post office. We congratulate her on her dedication to the US Postal Service and wish her well in retirement.

Return To Sender: With Postal Jobs Disappearing, So Could The Black Middle Class

January 23rd, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

The U.S. Postal Service has eliminated 168,000 jobs since 2006, and more cuts are expected. This could be significant to the African-American middle class. Why? A higher percentage of black workers have USPS jobs. According to a 2012 U.S. Department of Labor report, nearly one in five African-American workers have government jobs such as mail clerks, firefighters and teachers.

“African Americans make up about 20 percent of U.S. Postal Service workers – and are the majority in some urban centers, representing 75 percent to 80 percent of the 5,000 letter carriers in the Chicago area, according to Mack Julion, president of the Chicago branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers,” reports The Huffington Post.

The drastic cuts at the USPS, the country’s second-largest civilian employer after Wal-Mart with some 536,000 career workers, will directly affect its African-American workers. And as the black unemployment rate remains high — 14 percent, roughly double that of whites — it will be harder for African Americans to continue a middle-class lifestyle.

Historically, the postal service had less racial tension, which attracted many African Americans. According to Philip F. Rubio, author of There’s Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice and Equality, in 1865, the U.S. Post Office opened to black workers. “It became a magnet for African Americans who gravitated to the one place where they could take the test and they knew once they got in and became career employees, they were set,” Rubio told the news site. And by World War I, African Americans made up 10 percent of the postal service’s work force.

A USPS position was considered — and still is — a “good job.” The national average annual salary of career employees who work directly with mail, such as letter carriers, is $53,000 to $55,000, reports HuffPo.

The Internet has caused staggering losses — $15.9 billion in fiscal year 2012 alone — for the postal service as more people are using electronic mail. “[T]he postal service is losing $25 million a day, by some estimates, and could run out of money by October,” writes HuffPo.

The U.S. Postal Service Honors The 150th Anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation

January 3rd, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp

Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp

There are special exhibits across the country to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. And the U.S. Postal Service is honoring the milestone. The USPS recently announced a limited-edition stamp honoring the historic event.

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which proclaimed all those enslaved in Confederate territory to be forever free. The Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp is on sale at post offices nationwide, can be purchased online, and by phone at 800-Stamp24.

The new stamp is the first in a series of three Civil Rights stamps to be released in 2013. The remaining stamps in the series will pay tribute to Rosa Parks and the March on Washington. The Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp was designed by renowned graphic designer and former Rolling Stone magazine senior art director Gail Anderson, and art director Antonio Alcalá. A phrase taken from the historic document–“Henceforward Shall Be Free” — is featured on the stamp.

“Stamps often tap into our culture and help us remember the events and people who have had an impact on American history,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman in a press release. “The Emancipation Proclamation was a powerful symbol of President Lincoln’s determination to end the war, to end slavery, and to reconstruct the economy of the country without slave labor.”

This is not the first time that the USPS has paid homage to civil right events with special stamps. According to the release, in 2009, the organization released stamps featuring 12 civil rights pioneers including Mary Church Terrell and Mary White Ovington. And every year the USPS commemorates notable leaders and cultural milestones through other stamp collections, including the Black Heritage series and the American Treasures series.

Even the Emancipation Proclamation has been recognized by the USPS before. On August 16, 1963, the Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The stamp, states the release, was designed by George Olden, who was the first African American to design a U.S. postage stamp.

Will you collect the  Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp?