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Now in progress: a push to keep (contract) post offices open

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It’s no secret that the U.S. Postal Service is looking at shutting more than 3,200 post offices as part of a major downsizing initiative. Less known is that 20 privately run post offices are also on the chopping block, but in this case because of a labor agreement with the American Postal Workers Union.

Under its latest contract with the APWU signed last year, the Postal Service agreed to close 20 “contract postal units” (CPUs) or else insource the work “as soon as practicable.” Those units are in New York, Texas, Florida,Puerto Rico and several other states. Given that there are more than 3,000 contract postal units nationwide, it’s not clear why these were singled out, but several Republican members of Congress aren’t happy about it.

The 20 CPUs in question provide “handsome levels of revenue” to the Postal Service “in a more cost-effective manner than traditional post office facilities,” Reps. Gus Bilirakis and Steve Southerland, both of Florida, and John Carter and Ted Poe of Texas wrote in a letter earlier this month to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and APWU President Cliff Guffey. Besides employing more than two dozen people, the units generated an estimated $20 million in revenue last year and are “highly-trafficked businesses that provide their surrounding areas with unparalleled levels of customer service,” they added. The four lawmakers concluded by asking for a review and reconsideration of the decision to close them.

It should come as no surprise that the APWU would prefer to have the work done in-house by career postal workers. It’s not clear, though, whether this is a first-ever arrangement or has some precedent in previous contracts. FedLine’s attempts to get comment from the Postal Service and the APWU were unsuccessful.

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Comments

  1. Brent Martin Says:
    April 1st, 2012 at 1:49 am

    My name is Brent Martin and up until yesterday I was the manager of the Temple South Station contract post office located in Temple, TX. My family had held the contract to operate this office since 1992. I found out about this union agreement back in August of last year. Going on a rumor I did some searching online and found the agreement and the list of contract stations to be closed. I contacted several on the list and no one new anything about it. The postal management dept assured us and the others I had informed that this would never happen. Unfortunately I took them at the word at let it go, then suddenly around the first of January we are informed that we are to be closed down. A week later we got the official letter of termination scheduled for March 30th. I tried everything to stop this, I organized all the contractors I could, formed a ad-hoc organization (cpucpc.org), contacted the media, our congressman(Carter) and the Congressional Oversight Committee. All my efforts and the efforts of my fellow contractors have been failures. Most of us have been closed down, so there is little that can be done at this point to reverse this. I have been fighting for a month now for compensation we have all been shafted by this. So far the USPS has refused to pay us a dime for our loses on leases and other expenses we have incurred because this. I don’t believe the Postal Services hands are clean in this matter because they chose to hide this agreement (ratified in May 2011)and our inevitable termination from us. I am going to keep trying to get to the bottom of this and try to get fair compensation, I currently have an appeal with the Postal Contract Board but I would still like to get this story into the mainstream press any help you can give us is very much appreciated.

  2. sandra Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Several Republican members of Congress are not happy about it because they are trying to privitize the PO. A little more investigating would reveal that these”offices” are not using real postal employees and they don’t give two cents about customer service.

  3. wakeupamerica Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    to brent martin….
    when you lie down with dogs,
    you get fleas.

    it would be nice if postal management operated
    in an ethical, honest, fair way. however, my experience
    is that postal management has no accountability so now
    we have a postal service that is rampant with waste, fraud, and other abuses. there is a gov’t department that is “supposed” to bring accountability and integrity to the management of the united states postal service but they are simlpy an incompetent joke in my humble opinion. that department is called the office of the inspector general/usps.

  4. J Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Brent Martin welcome to business with the USPS. On the employee level and low level management, the same regularly occurs. I know you saw to as a wise business opportunity but always keep in mind the work was done by someone before you got it and you were a low cost alt. Postal management has only it’s best interest at heart at all times.

  5. harry diddo Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    what do you expect, the usps is full of crooks

  6. Scout Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Funny Brent that you want to be compensated, but it is ok for you to take away work from craft employees.If a clerk was working your retail unit, us and the APWU would have no problem with that.So fight for your contract unit but why not have the USPS hire a window clerk to work it.

  7. Tipsy Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    First of all , how do these contract P.O.s make money when the P.O. is not supposed to make a profit ? These contract units were supposed to be in an already established business that would provide the “service” part by offering stamps and other conveniences in addition to the normal business that brought the customer in to begin with . These contract stations were hoping to increase the foot traffic and increase their profits . Once again the P.O. disregards written and agreed upon CONTRACTS and they do whatever the hell they want !!!!

  8. Mike Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    As government agency our USPS is vital to the flow of commerce, it needs to return to a ‘service’ orientation and quit the competitive stance.

    Government CEO servants at any level in any department or service should not be paid like private enterprise CEOs.

    Congress uses the USPS like an ATM; several bills going at a time, generating millions in lobby funds. UPS and FED EX stay viable with huge contracts paid by USPS consumer’s postage. Other stake holders in the big USPS circle beg for the status quo; why do you suppose there’s no ‘fax for delivery’ product, or instant ‘email for delivery’ services. These products are somewhat offered at the “competitors” Fed EX Office and UPS Stores costing much more then there intrinsic value.

    We as a nation should expect a reinvention of our USPS, and we should demand that all the lobby money be returned in the form of USPS operational funds. We also need the streamlining of management at both levels (field and headquarters). Then put more feet on the street, emphasis on services and products, continue six day delivery, maybe even develop a 24/7 product or two.

    “We” need to take back the USPS before congress and politics destroy it. As a forty year plus servant in the USPS I volunteer to work alongside America’s super CEO Fred Smith (FED EX) to make it so, “come on Peps let’s roll”.

    Sincerely Mike

  9. Tim Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    To # 1, The usps don’t care about your business, they just care about their bonus, cheating scores. lol…….

  10. John Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    It’s the good old boy net work, why did the USPS agree with the 2006 mandated law by the Bush administration?
    To begin the Privatization of the USPS! And to bust the Unions, just like Reagan!

  11. Frustrated Says:
    April 3rd, 2012 at 9:01 am

    It’s unfortunate that this agreement between HQ and the APWU went through. Local Post Offices were Not involved in this ridiculous decision. These CPU’s have been partners of the Postal Service for years and have been very dedicated. To repay their dedication, we slap them in the face and shut them down, with NO justifiable reason, because the Unions want it. This decision makes NO business sense, these CPU’s cost the Postal Service pennies to operate. The Unions need to open their eyes and realize that Postal Service is a dying company and should work with Management on ways to increase revenue and services.

    The irony to this is that HQ is asking Local Post Offices to increase our Alternate Access in our areas – meaning OPEN MORE CPU’s. We wonder WHY we are in the shape we are in!

  12. annie Says:
    April 4th, 2012 at 11:01 am

    USPS is selling of Historic Post Offices for millions. The Historic Post Offices belong to the American people.

    Save our NATIONAL TREASURES>
    Sign the petition at www. saveourpostoffice.com

  13. Amy Says:
    April 5th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Dear Frustrated,

    It costs the USPS pennies to operate because the contracters pay their employees pennies to work. Are you serious? Do you want the USPS to make more money? How about quit giving discounts below the cost to process the mail? How about don’t give the big mailers the 2nd ounce free? How about staffing the Post Offices like they should be? How about firing all the managers and supervisors who play with the numbers and lie (except that wouldn’t leave any to work)? how about adhereing to the Collective Bargaining Agreement? How about treating employees with dignity and respect? How about actually doing what you say instead of just giving lip service? We are in the shape we are in because of Big business and congress being in bed together. The agreement to close the CPUs was not to bring work back to postal employees but to give the customers good service. I cannot tell you how many customers have come in complaining about the ‘post office in x-store’ and how they were given the wrong information. Well, that is because those employees do not have a stake in the game. They are making $10 an hour, probably working another job to make ends meet and could care less if the USPS survives so they don’t care if they give out incorrect information. GET REAL! CONGRESS BROKE IT – CONGRESS HAS TO FIX IT!!!!!!!!

  14. Johnd Says:
    April 7th, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    About five years ago I was in Del ray beach, FL. I was looking for a post office to mail a letter. I asked a few people where the post office was. I was told it was in a small strip mall. I walked back and forth and could not find it. Finally some one told me it was in this card store. I went in and a way in the back was a guy at a little desk eating a big sandwich. He took my mail and just kept eating.

  15. rich inman Says:
    April 27th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    You know that for sure, Ben Franklin is rolling over in his grave as we speak….Remember that little saying your mom taught you when you were young..(oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to decieve.) Good luck to anyone trying to deal with postal brass.

  16. darla Says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 10:53 am

    The APWU contract helped the USPS mgmt move ahead to close contracted postoffices
    allowing them to have village Post Offices. Is this contracting work out?

  17. Mrs. Penasse Says:
    June 12th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I am in a similar situation as Brent. Except I am not closed yet. I was working for a contractor of a cpu, that gave it up. The contract was dumped in my lap. It was take it or have no job. So I did, Blindly, might I add.
    The only rule book I got was to keep it at least 3 years ( I have been here 12) Do the job by postal rules and get bonded. I was told that every 2 years I would be reviewed for an increase. I got one the 3rd year. That is it. I am making about minimum wage while I am struggling to keep this post office going. No insurance or benefits.

    As far as caring about the post office and the people that come in I CARE A LOT! I have lived here most of my life. If I don’t know the right answer I call the main post office and find the right answer.

    I had never owned a business. I have managed a couple. When my husband left I thought I would at least be able to pay for my own insurance. I can barely eat and pay bills. But, I will fight for this post office to be here for the people.

    Yes I have to sign a lease and no , we have no other business here besides a post office. And Yes, If a REAL postal clerk wants to come work for what I get paid then I would hire a “real” clerk. I do all that they do without the benefits or the pay. No the Post office doesn’t care that I will have to pay off the lease if they close me down. They won’t close me though. They are going to make me give it up so they don’t HAVE to be responsible. What a chicken way. I am sorry for going on and on but I am VERY upset.

    I put in another request about 6 months ago as I have every year for the past 7 years, and have not gotten any response.
    My new post master ( not the one that hired me) has told me, I am a pain in her A__ __. That the only thing keeping this CPU open is me and when I find I can’t afford to keep it I will have to close it. She tells me who she want’s or doesn’t want working here. I asked to close on Saturday to save some expense, she refused,she didn’t send in my requests for increases several times, but, says she did this time, but, I won’t get one. She would bet her pay check.
    I have had to rely on the postal bulletin for updates, so if I do something wrong she isn’t responsible.
    The people here NEED a post office. The nearest one is about 38 miles round trip. Most are elderly and limited income, and a lot of poor people.
    USPS Is making money on this contract. ( Quite a bit)
    As far as me taking a Union employees, job, When I took this contract there wasn’t a problem that was being voiced.
    At leas,t not to the public.
    This contract station has been here for about 20 plus years. it used to be in a hardware store. I am not the one that moved it to a private building. I just agreed to run it. So those of you that are upset, I didn’t take anybody’s job. I am sorry you feel that way.
    Something needs to be done. The USPS needs to be more responsible for the owners of these contract postal units that they want to close or not support anymore.
    I think they need to notify the town for a few months prior to closing so the people can be prepared.

    There, now I feel a bit better . MrsP

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