The current situation with our nationâ¬s postal service â¬" dwindling volumes and huge deficits â¬" is not likely to improve anytime soon. If fact, itâ¬s likely to get worse. The hope that dwindling volumes will cease and start to increase when (if) the economy improves is likely overly optimistic. I donâ¬t see volumes increasing anytime soon â¬" and First Class Mail volumes will likely continue to decrease regardless of what the economy does. Since First Class Mail â¬Å"pays the bills,â¬â thatâ¬s not a pretty picture.

So, what do we do to ensure the nationâ¬s postal delivery future? There is only one option â¬" to cut costs. As postage costs rise, mailers are forced to alternative methods of communication, thereby reducing revenue and forcing more rate increases, reducing volumes, etc. Raising rates will only compound the problem.

Congress must act to solidify the footing of the Postal Service by changing the retirement funding obligation and then bowing out of the day-to-day operation of the Postal Service. The USPS must have the uninterrupted authority to make business decisions without the day-to-day interference of Congress. They must be allowed to change operating procedures and close/consolidate facilities without fear of having Congressional members of the affected areas calling them out and forcing changes and delays. Scarcely a day goes by that I do not see a news item from somewhere in this country of Congressional interference in Postal Service operational matters. Let the Postmaster General and staff run the Postal Service and let the postal oversight authorities (the Postal Regulatory Commission and Board of Governors) guide and evaluate. Unless we need major regulatory change â¬" such as the funding of the retirement obligation â¬" Congress should â¬Å"keep out.â¬â

Additionally, postal labor unions must share in the pain. In an organization where over 70% of the costs are labor related, the situation is not going to improve until that 70% plus cost is reduced â¬" and reduced significantly. If we have learned anything from the collapse of the nationâ¬s auto industry, it is that labor unions are not doing their members any favors by driving the industry to the brink of bankruptcy (in some cases, over the brink). What has happened in the auto industry is happening in the postal service â¬" and happening fast. There is one big difference: the nation seems willing to try to keep the auto industry going with some financial help. I really donâ¬t see that happening with the Postal Service. I just donâ¬t think public sentiment is going to be â¬Å"bailout.â¬â It is more likely to be privatization. And privatization is not going to be a pretty picture, especially for postal unions. Postal labor needs to wake up!

The situation with our nationâ¬s Postal Service is serious. The time to act is now or face a real nightmare â¬" privatization!

As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.