APWU President William Burrus has spoken out against suggestions to send greeting cards electronically rather than by mail, asserting that such recommendations are often based on a faulty premise.
“The contention that sending electronic messages would have a positive effect on the use of energy simply cannot be supported,” Burrus said. It ignores the fact that the Postal Service visits every home and business six days per week, regardless of the amount of mail destined for any individual address.
The absence of greeting cards would not eliminate the need for daily visit to the home, he noted. “In fact, the reduction of volume increases the cost of delivery for the remaining mail.”
Burrus first raised the subject in a letter to Washington DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, who had urged DC government employees to send holiday cards electronically rather than through the mail. In the Jan. 7 letter [PDF], Burrus said the suggestion “would damage the United States Postal Service at a time when it is suffering from reduced mail volume and increasing deficits.”
“In recent years, electronic messages have replaced hard-copy mail for many business and personal transactions, but despite these diversions, mail continues to serve the communication needs of our citizens,” he wrote. “Simply put, mail is woven into the fabric of our nation.”
More than 9 million workers are employed in mail-related occupations, and 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product is directly related to mail, Burrus said, “so if the suggestion to send holiday greetings electronically is applied to other uses of the mail, the consequences to the economy, as well as to 700,000 postal employees, would be devastating.”
Burrus also pointed out that the USPS is “firmly committed to making a major contribution to an eco-friendly environment,” and he noted that paper and ink are less damaging to the environment than discarded computers.
“I know the message was well intentioned,” Burrus concluded, “but I urge you to lend your support to the 7,000 postal employees in the metropolitan area by endorsing the continuation of communications by all Americans, not only those who are engaged electronically.”