Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Postal piñatas

Puyallup, WA, City Carrier Nellie Ibarra has a unique way of expressing her fondness for the Postal Service.

She's been making piñatas for 35 years and recently created one in the shape of a mailbox for the recent NALC picnic. She also created one in the shape of an Long Life Vehicle.

The idea of people hitting a paper mailbox with sticks is . . . interesting.

It may even be symbolic.

At least with this beating,  there was candy inside.

Care to Comment?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Touch the Truck

Recently, children had the opportunity to sit in the drivers seat at "Touch -A-Truck" day in Sioux Falls, SD. Children of all ages were allowed to sit and play on a variety of trucks at this event sponsored by a local university.

This free event included fire trucks, ambulances, police cars AND a USPS Long Life Vehicle (LLV). Children could meet and talk with USPS Employees like Debra Bickett and Thom Vanderwoude about life behind the wheel of an LLV. They got a first hand drivers seat view about how USPS carriers do their job and other facts about USPS Mail delivery.

Approximately 700 persons attended this event which was great fun for the kids as they were also able to learn about USPS careers all the while being able to see the world through the eyes of a Postal Letter Carrier and his trusty companion the LLV. Safety tips and ideas were promoted as well to keep the kids safe around USPS vehicles.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Off to college. What about the laundry?

In the "good" old days, more than  a few college students would send their laundry back home for mom to wash. Of course, they would use the U.S. Mail for both the sending and the return.

What would you do if your college student saw this idea and decided to implement it?
Comment here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Icelander postal carriers burdened by IKEA catalogs

The Icelandic postal service is under a major strain thanks to the new IKEA Catalogue.

The big catalog from the the Swedish furniture manufacturer is sent to every home -- all 118,000 of them.

The distribution is a considered a big event for the nation, and is the subject of news stories and coffee shop discussions.

The IKEA brand, which is just making U.S. inroads, spends 70 percent of its marketing budget on printing and mailing catalogues. They print more than 175 million copies annually worldwide.

The catalog is now 55 editions, in 27 languages for 36 countries.

You can have the the catalog sent to your home, and your carrier will thank you. Click here.

(From Benny -- Remember when we delivered scads of JC Penny, Sears, and Montgomery Ward catalogs?)

Care to comment?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Letter Carriers -- an archaic term?

Canada Post, our brothers to the North have a new title for their carriers. Don't call them "letter carriers," call them, "delivery agents."

Canada Post has had three distincitive carrier groups -- Those that deliver flat and letter mail, those that collect mail, and those that deliver parcels.

Now, "delivery agents," will do all three.

But that leads us to another question. Is "Letter Carrier" an archaic term? With letter mail on the decline, should we think about changing the name of our carriers?

"Delivery agent" sounds more CIA than USPS, but what do you think? Got any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mail Jumpers: Your Postal Podcast

The idea of a contracted youths delivering mail to lakeside homes by disembarking from a moving boat to a dock and back again is a quite a sight for tourists on Lake Geneva, WI.
You won’t see the feat, but you’ll hear the story about the unique way residents get their mail delivered in this month’s edition of Your Postal Podcast.
You’ll also hear a Mark Twain impersonator’s ruminations on the new commemorative stamp issued in honor of the creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
The show, available at, also features a roundup of the latest Postal Service news and announces the winners of last month’s Owney book drawing.
For a transcript of the latest program, please click here. If you’ve missed any previous editions, you’ll find them all at the Your Postal Podcast website. They can also be downloaded free at the iTunes Store.
Please click here to share your comments or ideas for future podcasts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

OIG studies costs

Our network of plants and transporation is designed to move First-Class Mail across the country with delivery from 1-3 days.

There's a cost associated with that and the Office of the Inspector General has concluded that by relaxing standards by a day, we could save $1.5 billion in mail processing costs.

Their white paper, Cost of Service Standards, shows the cost, especially with the narrow window that we have to process mail. Expanding the time for delivery, they conclude, would open up the window so mail processing equipment, facilities and employees could work more mail with fewer resources.

What do you think about this? Comment here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

USPS Branded Retirement and Health Plans

The Postal Service has floated a plan to pull out of the current health and retirement plans

Rather than allow employees to participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits smorgasborg plan, USPS would create their own. The thought is that it could be done more efficiently, with less cost to the Postal Service.

"We would capture cost savings by establishing a simpler, more cost-effective plan structure in line with private sector best practices," according to the white paper.
The second part is to not offer the TSP plan to new employees, moving to a 401 (k) plan like the private sector.

According to a Rasmussen Poll, over half of Americans (56%) say that the USPS should be allowed to run its own benefits program even if it means providing its employees with lower benefits. Twenty-seven percent (27%) oppose such a move, while 16% are undecided.

There's few publicized details and it's just talk right now, but what do you think about this proposal?

Comment here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Americans Think About Postal Service Losses

A Rasmussen Poll over the weekend asked Americans if they would rather see an infusion of taxpayer money to support the Postal Service, or if they could live with cuts in service.

About 50% of American Adults believe the federal government should allow the Postal Service to curtail the workforce if  it needs to reduce losses, rather than provide subsidies to cover those losses.

Thirty-three percent (33%) think the government should provide subsidies to cover the losses.
Another 17% are undecided what's best.

And rural areas should still get service, but 75% would rather see the USPS cut back mail delivery in some parts of the country to three or four days a week, rather than for the government to cover those losses. Only 17% would rather see the government provide more subsidies instead of cutting back delivery.

What do you think about the survey results? Comment here.

(To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

FER-get me not?

On June 21, the Postal Service suspended the employer contributions in the defined benefit portion of the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS.)  The move was meant to conserve cash, saving $115 million  a pay period. 

FERs retirements are made up of three parts -- Social Security, Thrift Savings Plans, and the annuity, or defined benefit. This last part is the one that's affected.

The defined benefit is over funded by as much as $6.9 billion.

Currently 85 percent of employees are in the FERSs system.

It doesn't affect TSP accounts or the matching contribution to it. The OPM thinks the move could jeopardize service credits issued to employees that would count toward retirement. USPS disagrees and has referred the issue for resolution to the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department.

What do you think about this? When should we resume payment once the new fiscal year starts?

Comment here.

PMG Donahoe has some comments and recorded a video.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Commandeered by a magpie!

American Fork Rural Carrier Lori Peay was delivering a parcel when this magpie flew in her side window and found a perch on the steering wheel.

It stayed long enough for a photo shoot, giving an inquisitive eye to Lori. Circling inside the LLV cargo area, the bird finally exited out the window, leaving a parting gift.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Saving Energy - Watt Would You Do?

The Postal Service is a big consumer of power. We have more than 32,000 facilities, all requiring heating and lighting. This adds up to some big bills.

Do you have any ideas on how to save energy?  What have you done in your facility? Comment here.

For more information read the FY 2110 Annual Sustainability Report. Also read about the Go Green Forever stamps and other efforts at and the green newsroom.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Look out below! More changes on the way.

The Washington Post today published an article which quoted a USPS standup talk and white papers.

"We will be insolvent next month due to significant declines in mail volume and retiree health benefit pre-funding costs imposed by Congress," the paper quotes. "The Postal Service is facing dire economic challenges that threaten its very existence."

To help remedy the situation, the paper said, the Postal Service wants to withdraw its 480,000 pensioners and 600,000 active employees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and place them in a new, USPS-administered program.

Similiarly, the Postal Service wnats to pull funds out of CSRS and FERS and self-administer those retirement programs.

Additionally, the newspaper said that the workforce could be reduced by as many as 120,000 career positions by 2015,  on top of the 100,000 it expects by attrition.

These actions are on top of previous requests to close more than 3,700 Post Offices, reduce delivery frequency, and to restructure the future retiree health benefit payments.

The white papers are found here and here.

What do you think about this? Comment here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Caption Contest: First Class Cat

Cats love boxes.
And the Postal Service has plenty of them.
Does this mean cats love USPS?

Got a witty caption for this picture?  Click here.

Photo courtesy of Barbara Rohde of her cat Bubba

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Owney Tails - Riding the Rails

Train stations, train stations… How many train stations can we suppose that Owney visited, slept overnight on mail bags, and left his mark?

For me, the Place of Train Stations in the 1890’s was Chicago. At that time there were several large train stations in Chicago:

                            …the Southern Illinois Central
                            …Northwestern Station
                            …Union Station
                            …Grand Central Station
                            Dearborn Station
Well, we know that Owney traveled all over the country, east to west, north to south and beyond. This meant that he had to find himself often in Chicago with the need to move on. So, he would hop on a mail wagon to go from one station to the next station and on with his journey.

Think of how many people were baffled and bewildered faced with this challenge of getting off one train and going across the city to get on another train? But, not Owney… he knew what he was doing, whether we understand that or not!

For an opportunity to win a copy of Dirk's books, listen to the latest Your Postal Podcast and leave your thoughts in the comment box.

What do you think about this little dog? Click here to tell us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sell off our buildings?

The Office of Inspector General has yet another idea to help us out of our woes -- sell off our buildings!

The logic is that we currently own more than $27 billion in real estate, and selling off some of those buildings, especially in prime urban centers, could raise some quick cast.

Federal Times used the Postal Headquarters in Washington D.C. as an example. It is currently assessed at a value of $115 million, given it's prime location at the end of the National Mall.

If we currently occupy those buildings, they could be sold and then leased back to us, while we pocket the purchase price. Or so goes the logic.

What do you think about this idea? Comment here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ben Franklin's Dog (Sorta)

No one really knows if Benjamin Franklin had a dog, which is really an important matter when you consider all the attention that Owney is getting these days.

Franklin's son William apparently owned a Newfoundland dog, name unknown.

There are two references in the Papers of Benjamin Franklin to William's dog. The first appears in a footnote on page 435 of Volume 26. Someone writing to Franklin adds the comment that "nothing shall tempt me to forget your Newfoundland dog."

The second reference, three years later and to the same dog, is on page 179 of Volume 36. The letter is in French, and indicates that a Madame De Boulainvillers returned the dog to Franklin; it seems as if the dog had strayed. These letters, dated 1778 and 1781, are both from Franklin's time in Paris.

And the ever-quotable Frankline has some dog-worthy quotes:

"There are three faithful friends--an old wife, an old dog and ready money." - Benjamin Franklin
"He who lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas." - Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Now we are in the business of saving bats, too

The Vail, AZ, Post Office lost their roof in a microburst storm last week. And along with the roof went the hidden home of a colony of pallid bats. There are only seven known colonies in the state of Arizona.

A number of locals walked around the office, flapping their arms. Their demonstration was to call attention to the plight of the bats. Locals have even started a fund to "Raise the Roof," helping restore the roof and help the bats return home.

What is your opinion on this? Comment here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Automated Postal Centers - Where Should They Go?

Most of our Automated Postal Centers (APCs) are co-located inside Post Offices. They cut down on lines and give after hours access.

However, in a few areas, there are APCs located in other high traffic areas. For example, in Syracuse, NY, a CPU closed and an APC replaced it.

The APCs are pricey to purchase and maintain, but do you think they would be smart to use to expand our access? Comment here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

We work hard for our money

A recent headline in a Rasmussen Report survey read, "66 Percent Say Private Sector Employees Work Harder Than Government Workers."

The survey concluded, "Most Americans still believe government workers work less and make more money than those employed by private companies."

Do you agree? Disagree? Why? Comment here.

Read the survey here.