Guest post by Older and Wiser.
Older and Wiser is a rural carrier.
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Are We a Letter Delivery Service or a Package Delivery Service?
We Can’t Be Both!
This is how I see it!
“The Postal Service lacks the staff and vehicles to handle projected growth in package delivery due to more online purchases.”
“Though the Postal Service is sufficiently staffed for the number of packages it currently carries, the agency isn’t poised for the package increase in the coming years.”
“With this attrition rate (19% nationwide), delivery operations may face long-term staffing challenges as package volume increases.”
“And Postal Service vehicles have not been designed to handle a higher volume of packages.”
“If the Postal Service can’t handle the higher volume, it will have long term financial implications as well since potential patrons could choose another delivery service.”
Though I, wholeheartedly, agree with these statements, I cannot accept responsibility for them. These words come from the USPS Inspector General in a report dated Dec. 11, 2013, less than one year ago.
We, as carriers, could see the writing on the wall long ago, but could the Postal Service? I wonder how many of these statements are due to the present situation or the Inspector General looking at the USPS and seeing a history which includes a lack of vision in anticipating problems and a lack of responsiveness in solving them. It was only recently that a shelving system was introduced, but how long ago did you first say to yourself, “These LLVs are totally inadequate for the future package totals they predict.” Was it 2 years, maybe 3 years ago that you had the thought? You were way ahead of the Postal Service in seeing the problem.
What about other problems that are not even on the USPS’s radar. How about the facilities we work in? The best way to describe my office is to think about the bumper car ride at an amusement park. We have hampers banging into other pieces of equipment because there is not enough room for the larger receptacles needed to move the number and larger sizes of parcels. To move from one end of the floor to another, you move in a very zig-zag route to avoid all the carrier and clerk equipment. My case is right in front of the flat case and is a real bottleneck. I often have to stop processing my parcels and move my hamper to let someone else through.
What about the equipment we have to use? In our office, we get our parcels from a hamper. The biggest items are on the bottom, so you take the smallest and put them to the side because it is hard to balance the big ones on top of the smaller ones. Then you put the smallest to the side again so the larger packages go on the bottom of the hamper. When you get outside to load, you have to put the smaller ones on the side again, so you can load the larger parcels on the floor of the truck. It just seems a very inefficient way to handle the parcels. I am not an efficiency expert, but maybe there would be better conveyances than hampers to expedite the loading process, but we will only find out when the Postal Service ever admits there is a problem.
Delivery of parcels by the USPS is limited by the abilities of the carriers to handle letters, flats, boxholders, accountables, and parcels. Where is the tipping point, which is the point where it all becomes too much for the carriers? Would carriers be able to handle the job if Christmas delivery became the everyday delivery? I still see statistics where package growth is in the double-digits. Where will it end? Once the Postal Service has to hire people just for delivery of parcels will it still be a profitable venture for them? When will the USPS wake up and give the carriers the respect and the tools to do the job in the most efficient manner?
Though they have had a whole year to do so, I cannot see any improvements that will make my delivery of parcels easier than last year. Why Not? The IG could see the problems. We could see the problems. Why does it take so long for the USPS to see a problem? That goes back to a notion I have had for a long time. There are just not enough “business people” in the Postal Service. Successful business people in the private sector have the vision to see problems before they happen and have a plan in place to be proactive instead of reactive. Where is that same planning in the USPS? Where Where Where ?