Every time I read an article about postal reform, it nearly always blames the unions for the problems (//dmnews.com/articles/2000-12-18/12206.html). While there may be some truth to this, there might be more to it. I work in a plant with those ballyhooed mail sorters, and I can tell you they are not all they are cracked up to be.
The U.S. Postal Service does not always update the databases with new addresses, resulting in reject mail that has to be manually sorted. You can imagine what this delay in updating does to the mail that is supposed to be walk-sequenced to the carriers. We have just received a new modification to one of these delivery barcode sorters that allows it to read handwritten mail, but the problem is that it runs about 10,000 to 15,000 fewer letters per hour than normal because of the software. That may not sound like a great amount, but over the course of several hours it can make a difference. These machines still have a problem with window envelopes and colored envelopes, which does not help matters.
If you want to reform the postal service, why not look at upper management? Is it not curious that three unions are now in binding arbitration? Management has no incentive to bargain, as evidenced by its failure to show up at many negotiation sessions with the American Postal Workers Union. It seems they would rather roll the dice and see what comes up, a strategy that failed miserably with the letter carriers who were bumped up a grade in pay during arbitration.
I am sorry that Postmaster General William J. Henderson is considering resigning because of no pay raise, but that is what he proposed to the rank and file. He also had been in upper management for years, and he knew what the job entailed and what the pay was, so I have little sympathy for him.
Don't always blame the unions. They were formed in response to working conditions and pay levels. Treat people fairly and in a Christian manner, and there will be no need for people to form unions.
• David Noles
U.S. Postal Service