Sometimes change is hard to swallow. There are times when it isn't good at all, and right now we feel that way about the Postal Service.
The United States Postal Service has made numerous changes in the past couple of years which haven't been beneficial to the consumer. For example, although not having local delivery in some rural towns like Bowmanstown and Parryville, they began charging for post office boxes which had been offered free to these residents for many, many years. In essence it means the affected individuals are paying for both sending mail and receiving it.
Recently the Postal Service said it might close as many as 2,000 post offices nationwide. A spokesperson for the Postal Service says the 2,000 figure is basically arbitrary and no decisions have been made on such closings.
In addition, for regular post offices to close, there is a 57-step process including public hearings.
Unfortunately, past experience tells us that public hearings often are a formality only and seldom change the decisions made by executives.
In the case of postal stations and branches, the postal service can close such facilities without notice.
This week, it was revealed that in 50 regional post offices, mail carrier operations are being considered for transfer into neighboring post offices. Among them would be Nesquehoning's carriers moved to Lehighton and Summit Hill's carriers relocated to Lansford.
This might seem like a small thing, but it seems like this is just a small part of the overall picture.
We understand the need for operating more efficiently, but we don't see any such efficiency with moving the home base of carriers from a local municipality. We look at it as the first step toward potentially eliminating that post office. We have concerns that if the carriers are being taken from respective post office, what cuts will occur in the future?
The Postal Service says use of its services has declined dramatically in just the past four years. In 2006, the Postal Service handled 213 billion pieces of mail. In 2010, the number of pieces of mail declined to 170 billion pieces, or more than 20 percent.
When the Postal Service reached its 213 billion peak number in 2006, it was already making cuts. Generally businesses which see record numbers expand. Instead, the Postal Service has since cut its Wilkes-Barre sorting center, sending that mail to Allentown, and now will be cutting a Reading area sorting center, whose mail also will go to Allentown.
The Postal Service says lost $8.5 billion last year despite deep cuts of more than 100,000 jobs and other reductions in recent years.
Instead of continued cuts, maybe there should be a financial analysis done on the operations.
Last year the Postal Service has suggested cutting Saturday delivery. Inconveniencing customers is not a way to generate business.
There are ways the Postal Service could increase its business. Adding more commemorative stamps (how about a miner's stamp), stopping cutbacks that affect customer service, promotions (how about a Valentine's card discount), and governmental assessment of top management operations and accounting might be a start.
Layoffs aren't always an answer to cost-cutting. Neither are taking away local services.
By Ron Gower