The beleaguered U.S. Postal Service might be about to make eCommerce shipping woes even worse. According to several sources including the EcommerceBytes blog, the USPS is developing a new business plan focused on cost cutting and economic efficiency, and cuts are rumored that could delay mail and package delivery.
According to the blog, there is reportedly a memo circulating within the USPS that proposes eliminating all overtime. “If the plants run late they will keep the mail for the next day,” says the report. “If you get mail and your carriers are gone and you cannot get the mail out without OT it will remain for the next day.”
USPS spokesperson Dave Partenheimer responded to the EcommerceBytes story with a vague and non-committal statement. “The Postal Service is developing a business plan to ensure that we will be financially stable and able to continue to provide reliable, affordable, safe and secure delivery of mail, packages and other communications to all Americans as a vital part of the nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Partenheimer. “While the overall plan is not yet finalized, it will certainly include new and creative ways for us to fulfill our mission, and we will focus immediately on efficiency and items that we can control, including adherence to the effective operating plans that we have developed.”
If the cuts come to pass it would be the latest in a series of moves that could affect eCommerce shipping, which had been burdened by prioritizing medical deliveries and essential goods to fight the pandemic.
The moves also seem to fly in the face of the U.S. Postal Service’s current reality. According to the Federal News Network, USPS has seen mail volume drop 25 to 30 percent during the pandemic, but an increase of about 60 percent in package volume. While the postal service battles to stay solvent and fight off federal funding cuts, its workforce of more than 600,000 employees has faced problems keeping up with demand that sometimes rivals the agency’s peak holiday period.
Then there’s the pandemic to contend with. The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) estimates 2,000 to 3,000 of its members have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and at least 25,000 employees have had to quarantine. APWU President Mark Dimondstein said USPS cutting down on overtime is a strain on employees.
“When you combine a pandemic with short staffing, yes, you’re going have some overtime, and to arbitrarily just say it’s done means that the service that’s coming with that overtime is going to be gone,” Dimondstein told FNN.
According to some reports, the changes have already started. “The cash-strapped USPS, whose poor finances have taken a further hit during the novel coronavirus pandemic, has instructed workers to leave each phase of their deliveries according to a set schedule, meaning some mail will likely be delayed,” says the Government Executive website. “Louis DeJoy, who became postmaster general last month, directed the changes, which the Postal Service suggested could save $200 million.”
“This operational pivot is long overdue and today, we are talking about the first step in a journey we must take together, for the health and stability of the Postal Service,” USPS management wrote in a missive to employees, as reported in Government Executive. “The shifts are simple, but they will be challenging, as we seek to change our culture and move away from past practices previously used.”