A guest blog by Dennis Dressler
Recently a fellow carrier reminded me that had Post Master General Patrick Donahoe had his way, we would all be getting Saturdays off. True, but what deep subject is hidden in that rhetoric. In a recent Moyers and Company interview, Barbara Garson, author of “Down the Up Escalator” and Barbara J. Miner, author of “Lessons From the Heartland” discussed what has happened to the working class over the last 40 years. Piece by piece the American dream has been eroded away. They pointed out that wages have risen an average of 4% during the past four decades while productivity of workers has risen a staggering 99% (not to mention that over 50 cents of every dollar now belongs to the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans, but that is another story).
Slowly we have been made to work harder and more efficiently while the “takers” of our society (the 1%) receives the bulk reward for our zealous determination. We find ourselves attempting to keep our heads above water by working multiple jobs while our route evaluations keep dwindling.
The Postal Service has been operating like this since the 70’s as well: we now see routes deteriorating into substandard status and find ourselves being excessed into neighboring communities. The Post Office (I don’t believe you can call us a service anymore) has concentrated on integrating machines and the minimizing human interaction into the processing of mail. In turn, if you do not want to work 6 days a week you must serve over 1,000 customers on your route. We have closed processing plants (which may or may not have been within the powers of the PMG, but that is another story as well) slowing down our snail mail to a point where I now have customers ask, “how long does it take for my paycheck to get across town?” (still waiting) Maybe it went to Denver for forwarding from Kansas City, then back to Kansas City, because that makes sense.
The focus has been on productivity not better service. We have allowed our product to become more and more irrelevant while cutting back the need for people to work the mail. We have upgraded in a somewhat “duct tape and baling wire” way our customers ability to track their packages in real-time (give or take 15 minutes). Our clerks are now using a scanner that tells them to which route the packages are schemed. Eventually we may see chimpanzees or robot clerks, in some cases this may have already happened, look around you…I always wondered about that guy?
Yes it would have been great to have every Saturday off but it was just another chipping away of our livelihood. It would have increased our work load and given us one less day to carry our mail, not to mention slowing down the mail yet again, and being good rural carriers we would have responded by increasing our productivity yet again (we always find a way).
The Postal Service, sorry Post Office has been gearing up for privatization and reports are that PMG has been cozying up with the likes of Pitney Bowes so that he too can remain a taker in the private market where the top make more for the harder work of those at the bottom. We have seen this happen with the railroads, airlines, steel mills, mining operations, textile industry and now education…are we the next to be abandoned?
Dennis is a rural carrier and steward in Kansas
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