Pointing Fingers With Your Head In The Sand
April is here and we now know that March madness was more than just basketball.
Part of the madness is the belief in some circles that everything regarding the mailing industry and the Postal Service will resolve itself, negating the need for legislative relief and a change in the way mail moves.
Many in Congress seem to think that an organization that touches on all 300 plus million people in the United States in one way or another will run just fine until after the elections in November. Others want to help by restructuring debts and allowing the USPS more flexibility, while some think there is no debt to work with, just “evil bailouts” that will burden the taxpayer. Legislation is currently stalled in the Senate. Sadly, almost all of them think that whatever the solution is, it can be accomplished by either not closing an underutilized post office, station, branch or processing facility at all or, if necessary, closing it in another legislator’s district.
Postal labor organizations are operating in somewhat of a vacuum as well, believing that mail will magically reappear, justifying the offices and facilities and continuing to guarantee everyone’s jobs. Some volume may grow and other segments will stabilize but the big numbers are gone. The mailing industry—and this industry has become as near and dear to my heart as is my old alma mater at the Postal Service—would love to keep these facilities open so that nothing in the way of delivery schedules, or overnight standards, CET’s and distances traveled change. I wish this were the case as well and there were easy alternatives.
The other two potentially unrealistic issues are keeping six-day delivery and low rate increases. Again I fervently hope that these two can be maintained. Unfortunately, the reality is that some versions of all of these situations will likely become a reality and ways to live within these changes should be as big a goal as finding ways to keep these events from taking place. With luck Saturday delivery has at least a two-year shelf life but the CPI Index is creeping closer and closer to four percent and the exigent noises just won’t be silenced.
What to do! What to do!
First and foremost, Congress needs to act on the reality of these situations and stop posturing and electioneering. It won’t go away. The labor organizations have to look at the fact that a quarter million employees have left the service over the last few years without a single layoff and that future practices like only full-time hiring and no layoff clauses have to go away.
Even all of us in the mailing industry need to look at the new realities—and it seems that this is beginning to happen—in order to change the way we create, prepare, publish, and produce mail and then present it for shipment.
Tough times are ahead and the only way to survive is to harness the hearts and minds of the industry, USPS, and yes, even legislators to shrug off the “old ways” of thinking and keep mail where it belongs, out of the nightly news and in the mailbox at everyone’s homes and businesses.
Print has a rich and important future. Let’s make sure it continues to shine.