The Plight of the Postmaster

by Robert Brinkmann, National League of Postmasters Legislative Counsel

Robert BrinkmannThese are tough times in so many ways. Not only does it seem that the Postal Service has been determined (at least over the last several years) to eradicate Postmasters from the face of the earth, but Congress these days is taking shots right and left at federal workers, day after day, after day again. I had lunch with the Washington Post reporter who covers and federal worker beat, and he was as amazed as I was about the intensity and pace of the attacks. Both of us have watched events in Washington for decades and we have  never seen anything like it. And, although sometimes postal employees are excluded from those shots, some of those shots are bound to hit home.

It is not a pretty picture. The assumptions behind the shots seem to be that federal employees are overpaid, underworked, and that their job is not particularly valuable to the Republic or its citizens. Amazingly, all this is happening because of politics and, despite the legions of air traffic controllers, law enforcement officers, military officers and ratings, Postmasters and other federal employees that are universally necessary for our society to function efficiently, and despite those who are almost universally well liked and respected (think park rangers), this is not the federal civil servants’ finest hour.

Part of the reason that the Postal Service is in such a bad way in Washington is that this city has become so incredibly polarized that facts have begun to become less and less and less important. Ideology has now become more important than facts, and ideological points now seem to trump factual points. Now, what seems to count is not what the facts are, nor what they reasonably might be in the future, but rather how much you can harm your opponent by twisting the facts, and how sharp you can make—and deeply embed—your political barbs. You know what I mean. We hear it every day on the news. This politician says the other one is lying; the other says another is cheating; a third calls a fourth a socialist even though the third took the very same position on the same issue 10 years ago; a fifth says yet another is trying to destroy America … I tire of this destructive rhetoric and the fact that none of them is really trying to get at what is the truth. Without a sincere quest for factual truth, a democracy cannot function.

The alienation and polarization is rendering our political system dysfunctional and preventing (so far) a reasonable political solution for the Postal Service from being crafted and passing all the way through the system. We are, unfortunately, a political victim of the times. Mind you, my comments have absolutely nothing to do with the substance of any of the positions of any of the politicians—right, left, or center—and I want to make that perfectly clear. My concern is with the rhetoric. It is with the attitude behind the rhetoric that simply ignores facts, makes up other facts, and crafts accusations and personal attacks that calls people liars and cheats. We have seen that so much in the political primaries this year … the rhetoric has become, in my view, unacceptable.

In terms of the Postal Service, the staff on the Hill that handled postal matters for years and understood the Postal Service, the system, the mailing industry and the economics of the postal sphere is gone. The key stalwarts among members of the House and Senate who knew and understood postal affairs and the economics of the system are gone. Replacing them are staff and members, some of whom—deep down—actually believe the rhetoric that the Postal Service has spouted over the last few years, and have concluded that the Postal Service is finished.

Indeed, a few of those felt that Postal Service was finished years ago and all that is happening now is simply a death watch. In their mind, the Postal Service is going to die either now or later. All these individuals want to do now is pull as much money out of the system as they can to cover future pension and benefit liabilities, with no thought of service, customer needs, or maintaining and growing postal volumes and revenues.I certainly do not wish to suggest that all the staff on the Hill is like this, but some in key positions are—and it is hurting us.

You need to know that the next several months are critical. I just received one email from a retired Postmaster who told me that he thinks that the Postal Service is doing more harm than good with its cry of wolf, and he is afraid that while the Postal Service has successfully used that tactic in the past, just like the little boy who cried wolf one time too many, this time is could end with tragic consequences.

That is possible. Your future, and that of the Postal Service, depends upon the pessimism, negativism and cynicism about the Postal Service that permeates the Hill not winning the day. The only thing standing between you and what will happen if that view wins the day are groups like the LEAGUE. You need to support the LEAGUE and others more than ever. We have won some great battles in the last year. Yet the war is far from over. There are many battles yet to come and, while I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, we stand between you and destruction.

We need to get Congress back to the point where it really looks at facts, explores the facts, and considers the facts. We need to get back to the point where views are formed by people who know what they are doing, and don’t rely on bureaucrats who sit behind the scene, in rooms with computer programs and numbers. You know the type, those consultants and technicians that make recommendations about people, communities and markets that they have never seen, nor explored, and really don’t understand.

This is not a partisan statement. Believe me, the blame falls on both sides of the political spectrum. The conservatives who now control the House have done this far too many times, as has the White House. The truth of the matter is that few, if any, people making decisions about postal matters either on Capitol Hill or at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have any idea what they are talking about.

The LEAGUE and other groups, through the efforts of hundreds of you, have brought the issues to the policy makers in a reasonable, simple, well developed way. The Senate has listened to some degree, but neither leadership in the House of Representatives nor the White House really have. The House has not tried to listen because it is afraid the facts might get in the way of its predetermined ideological positions and decisions, and its efforts to change the name of the person who sits in the White House. The White House has not listened because they are afraid that if they listen to “lobbyists,” they somehow will be morally polluted. Because of this attitude, this White House is operating on many complex domestic issues from a position of ignorance that far exceeds other administrations, either Republican or Democrat.

Its misfeasance in this respect is perhaps even greater than that of the House. And that is saying a lot.

.read full article

The Plight of the Postmaster

10 thoughts on “The Plight of the Postmaster

  1. Hey Raul & Joe Wanats
    Take your crap somewhere else. We all know the union does not support this bill. You’re blowing this crap out your rear. Get a clue & then get a life.

  2. Mismanagement and over funding, and the dues hungry Unions = downfall of USPS, lies and more lies, the USPS already uses the Inspectors and OIG, Office of Inspector General to set up craft employees, two sets of rules, just like the IRS, a Gestapo mentality, offering a decent early retirement/ Incentives would be one way to escape the deteriorating work places in the USPS, the work environment has always been about management inflating numbers, lying about getting mail out when it is stacked somewhere or sent back to be reprocessed, and using threats (OIG, Inspection Service, intimidation, following craft workers off the job etc.) and abusive tactics for managers to get their bonuses, always a daily fight for us workers to survive, yes it is a daily war to get you the customer your mail, end this monopoly now !

  3. USPS Plans to Implement Consolidations As Soon As Moratorium Ends
    Top-level postal managers were unable – or unwilling – to specify which mail processing centers would be closed immediately. Decisions will be made at the end of February, they said.
    Postal officials said that as a result of the consolidations, approximately 83,000 jobs will be eliminated in the crafts represented by the APWU, including more than 63,800 Clerks, close to 9,000 Maintenance Craft employees, and more than 1,800 Motor Vehicle Craft employees.
    GOOGLE……….U.S. SENATE………Choose your “SENATOR HOME” State. Look for the area in which to write and send your comment.  
    I wrote ” I work for the U.S.P.S. and I do not oppose S1789 in it’s amended form”. This bill offers three types of incentives not to be combined.  
    1. 25,000 cash.  
    2. 2 years added on to your FERS retirement  
    3. 1 year added on to your CSRS retirement.  
    “This announcement makes it all the more important that APWU members reach out to their senators to let them know that S. 1789 as amended,” must be passed now said Guffey.
    Call Your Senators:
    (Capitol Switchboard)
    [Click here for direct #s]
    Tell them you Support 
    S. 1789
    The U.S. Senate soon will likely debate the 21st Century Postal Reform Act (S. 1789), bill designed to ‘save” the U.S. Postal Service by offering Early Retirement Incentives.
    As president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, I understand the budgetary and market challenges facing the USPS.
    S. 1789 should be passed as amended, it will save America’s postal network. Instead of enacting shortsighted, destructive policies, Congress should approve this bill ,S.1789.
    Fredric V. Rolando is the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers
    NAPUS will continue to work with Senate allies to pass S. 1789, and ensure that the measure will garner the requisite votes for passage.

  4. The facts are 50% +++ Postmaster positions are not needed in the present as they served a purpose 40 years ago but population growth and changing demograhics has eliminated the need for community post officies. Many Postmasers have 1 PTF clerk with no delivery and a salary of $63000 a year. High price to sell stamps and box mail; clerk makes $26.oo a hour. Postal salary update allows salaries to be checked by state and zip code. PM salaries shown $94000 -$96,000 depending on length of service and level of post office as the $90000+ are level 22 officies.
    Smaller offices near 4-5 miles radius of larger office could be eliminated and box section zip and rural delivery zip codes maintained. Postmaster at high level office could be responsible for the smaller level 11,15, 18, offices in the same county.
    Tremendous savings potential without any negative service factors. League and NAPUS would loose member due and pressure politicans to favor their position in maintaining their great tradition of having Postmasters in evey community regardless of cost. STMPS CAN NOW BE PURCHASED AT NATIONAL DRUG STORES AND GROCERY CHAINS FOR INDIVIDUALS THAT DO NOT PAY ON LINE.

  5. S. 1789 could come up Monday: An amended version of S. 1789 – which the NALC has seen – appears headed for consideration on the floor of the Senate as early as Monday. Based on what little we know right now, the expectation is that the amendments go far enough toward addressing the major issues we have with this deeply enhanced legislation. The NALC is prepared to mobilize members to support any measure that includes Early Retirement Incentives for all craft employees.

    Fred Rolando- NALC

  6. Hey Bobby Brinkmann, your one of the boobs that made a living off those idiots that made bad decisions from people that sit upstairs and looks at the numbers and manipulates them by deleting the files to show how the P.O. lost mail volumes so you can get your raises and bonuses. Smell the roses, your a thing of the past. Like Donald Trump say’s “Your Fired!” Don’t let the door hit you in the ass while your leaving. You all fleeced the P.O. for years and you all should get jail time.

  7. How ironic that the legal counsel for the culprits directly responsible for many of the problems, abuses, and game playing is whining. Any current or past employee knows management is directly accountable for many issues. Capital hill is the other half, Issa and the republicans have made lies and deception the norm,management is just amazed that they do it more frequently. There should be a tax on political contributions of 50%., Donohoe should be questioned under oath , regarding the FSS boondogle,and wastefull spending.Postal management is used to no accountability for poor decisions, contract violations, and cronyism.

  8. Mr. Brinkman is part of the problem not the solution. While he represents the League, he is also a primary member of the Center for the Study of the Postal Market, an industry lobbying group run by Alan Robinson.
    This is a group who’s members advocate fo policies that harm postal workers, including postmasters. So while Mr. Brinkman represents the League on one hand, he works with folks who would throw postal workers under the bus for cheaper rates.
    While perfectly correct about the increasingly partisan and ideological divide in Washington, Mr. Brinkman fails to acknowledge that one of the primary reason we got here was the dysfunctional lobbying culture of Washington.
    He bemoans the current situation not because it’s destructive or damaging but because it’s bad for business.

  9. Right you are, but what about the abusive people called management, and the higher up managers who have no clue and blew billions of dollars on wasted , failed projects, and you all lie about and falsify numbers to get bonuses, management above and below is another reason to Privatize the USPS “Evil Empire”, good riddance !

Comments are closed.