buntsfromaleftcoastgirl asks: Regarding the Postal Service announcement yesterday about slow-downs, my local Oregon NPR station noted this morning that the slow-down would effect Oregon's vote-by-mail as ballots have to be returned--not just postmarked--by election day. Oregon officials are pushing to get voter's pamphlets and ballots to Oregon voters sooner so they can be returned with enough time to slog through the USPS.
» SFB says: Good to know. Here’s the story, for the curious. This is another example, to us, about how a one-day delay in receiving mail will cause a ripple effect far beyond the Postal Service. To put this in Netflix terms: This is the U.S. Postal Service’s Qwikster. — Ernie @ SFB
» They could be broke by September 2012: On top of that, they expect to default on a key health care pension plan payment (which forces them to pre-pay for workers’ future health benefits decades in advance) — of $5.5 billion.
jron asks: Nice buy-in to right wing ideology by blaming the unions for the Postal Service's problems (on Labor Day even). They negotiated pensions as part of their salary deals. Management took the deal to pay into retirement rather than give them higher salaries then, just like any other salary/benefits/pension negotiation. If there's going to be a bait and switch, it's not the union's fault.
» SFB says: How did we buy into right-wing ideology by summarizing a piece written by the New York Times? Because that’s what the piece says. “At the same time, decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office’s costs. Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees.” Please. Just because we summarized something you personally disagree with doesn’t mean we “bought into” anything. Give us more credit than that.
» No more federal health care? If you’ve been following the U.S. Postal Service’s financial situation closely, you might know that part of the reason they’ve been struggling involves high pre-paid health care costs, an issue that cropped up due to a federal law forcing them to set aside a large amount of money for health care. This means that they can’t use any of the money to, you know, do anything else. Now the USPS says they’d be better off getting off the federal plan and doing private health care and pensions instead. They say it’s cheaper. Was that whole thing a ploy to get them further off the federal dime? They’re independent, you know.
heshallfromtimetotime-deactivat asks: Wasn't the Postal Service thing already debunked, insofar as pointing out that USPS does in fact have a large amount of capital put aside for future use, but it's simply not permitted to use that money yet?
» SFB says: The Businessweek article actually covers this: “The USPS and its employee unions are lobbying for the least painful remedy: They want the agency to be relieved of its requirement to build a health-care trust fund for its future retirees.” The fund, a part of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, has hurt the organization’s bottom line for a while. But make no mistake: They’re not exactly doing well these days. Here’s their most recent financial statement. The first four pages of the PDF are really the important part. But they tell a clear story: The postal service’s bread and butter — first-class mail — is struggling. A complex issue for sure. — Ernie @ SFB