324,000 Post Office Jobs at Risk

post office jobsThe U.S. Postal Service was once a symbol of the secure, but usually monotonous, job. No more. On the table last Saturday, as it entered talks with its two biggest unions, was the security of the jobs of its 324,000 workers, reports Portfolio.

The timing, which is the holiday delivery season, is critical. And so are the possible compromises labor might be asked to make. As most of you already know, the post office lost $8.5 billion during the fiscal year ending in September. Part of this is due to decreased demand. Digital technology keeps eating off large chunks of the transmission of commercial and personal communication. Part could be the failure to adjust the model for operations in a world spinning with change.

So far, it doesn't look like its major unions -- American Postal Workers Union [APWU] and National Rural Letter Carriers Association [NRLCA] -- will cooperate to help solve this financial mess. The NRLCA walked out of the talks, which had on the table such issues as ending Saturday delivery. The APWU agreed to continue negotiations, at least for now.

There's also an irritant for the union. Postmaster General John E. Potter is retiring soon with a sweet deal. That includes $5.5 million in deferred compensation, retirement benefits, and accrued annual leave. There's more. The Postal Service will pay his health insurance for another year.

Possible cuts in service as well as manpower have serious implications for small businesses, the publishing industry, and direct mail. All rely on the post office for getting into people's mail boxes. In addition, many of the 76 million baby boomers are accustomed to paying their monthly bills via snail mail. Those companies they're sending checks to might be getting nervous.

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