In tandem with the Postal Service’s preliminary study recommending the closing of the Brevard Road mail processing center, Mark Jamison, the postmaster of Webster, N.C. — speaking for himself, and not on behalf of the Postal Service — has detailed his objections to the national effort to rethink and streamline the nation’s mail-handling service.
“We’d better wake up soon because there’s more at stake than post offices and postal services,” Jamison writes for the national blog Save the Post Office (not affiliated with the Postal Service). ” If jobs can be disposed of so ruthlessly, if communities can be disposed of so cynically, if an institution that helped build the country — and that still helps hold it together — can be disposed of so carelessly, we are all in deep trouble.”
In a post entitled, “Bad News Comes in Threes: How Congress, Industry, and Management Have Made a Mess Out of Things,” Jamison writes:
AMIDST THE SOUND AND FURY of ideological punditry and political posturing that passes for thoughtful debate about the future of the Postal Service, three things are becoming clear: Congress is unable to take responsibility and solve problems, the commercial mailing and marketing industry has developed a sense of entitlement that undermines its own interests, and senior postal management has become imprisoned by its own circular thinking.
Watching what’s gone on the past few months can’t help but leave one with a sense of hopelessness. The legislative sausage grinder turns out compromises that appease politicians who have no real understanding of postal facts, that favor the commercial mail lobby, and that give the Postmaster General the tools he needs to dismantle the Postal Service. The mail industry encourages the dismantling, pressures the Postal Service for favorable discounts, and lobbies Congress for legislation that protects its profits. Postal management tries to keep the industry and Congress happy, but neglects the interests of its employees and the average citizen. Congress, the industry, and management are all in it together …
The Postal Service has scheduled a public meeting for Monday, Nov. 21, to receive comments on its proposal to close the Asheville center and transfer that work to a similar facility in Greenville, S.C. According to an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, “The Asheville center is one of nearly 250 processing facilities the Postal Service said it would study for closure or consolidation. … About 200 people work at the center. The Postal Service would eliminate 22 of those jobs and shift the rest to Greenville. …”
Jamison says the country’s mailing and marketing industries are partly to blame for the current state of the system:
Over the last 20 years postal legislation has heaped untenable burdens upon the Postal Service and its workers. It has also created a special class of postal customer — the stakeholder. The idea of the Postal Service as an essential national infrastructure that serves the American people has been seriously undermined. This democratic vision has been replaced by the view that the Postal Service is merely another player in the mailing industry, a player whose primary purpose is to facilitate the business model and increase the profits of commercial marketers and mailers.
The Postal Service management is, by and large, hostile, out of touch and autocratic, Jamison says:
The Postal Service says that all of the community meetings related to post office suspensions and closings were held exactly as the law prescribed. What then are we to make of the many news reports and appeal petitions to the contrary? They tell of meetings scheduled at inconvenient times, discontinuance coordinators ill informed about the local community, no postal personnel taking notes of what people say, no manager present at all.
And while the Postal Service has recently announced that it was permissible to videotape and record community meetings, what are we to make of the fact back in August, a member of the community who tried to record a meeting was ordered by the postal operations manager to stop, and when he refused, the police were called and they escorted him out of the meeting.
For more of Mark Jamison’s views, see “The great postal debate of 2011 and proposed Post Office closures”.
Every postal employee can relate an incident of managerial bullying or simple cognitive dissonance. As a postmaster, I’ve driven an empty mail tub on a ninety mile round trip in the middle of the night to satisfy some nonsensical protocol. I watched a Plant Manager scream at his floor supervisors until they dissolved into tears. Postal workers have all seen behavior that ranged from simply boorish to wasteful and outright abusive.
And Congressional representatives are uninformed or lying, Jamison says:
But what are we to think when we hear politicians like Congressmen Darrel Issa from California and Dennis Ross from Florida make comments about the Postal Service that are so patently false? Do they know they are lying or at least grossly distorting the facts when they completely dismiss the fact that there are financial inconsistencies in the way the Postal Service has been treated? …
But instead of making their ultimate goals clear, politicians like Issa and Ross are dissembling about the real causes of the Postal Service’s financial problems, and they are not being straightforward about the true aims of their proposed reforms. The Postal Reform Act they have put forward would gut the Postal Service and prepare it for being broken up into pieces — “decoupled, bifurcated and unbundled,” as the current parlance has it — so that it can be privatized. …
The Postal Service wallows in crisis today not because of the loss of mail volume but because of the provisions of the 2006 PAEA [Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act]. The deficits incurred by the Postal Service over the last several years are virtually equal to the amounts withdrawn by the PAEA.
A public meeting on a proposal to close the Asheville mail-handling center will be held Monday, Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Ferguson Auditorium at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, 340 Victoria Road. The Postal Service will accept written comments through Dec. 6. Send them to: Manager of Consumer and Industry Contact, 2901 Scott Futrell Drive, Charlotte, NC 28228-9976.