Postal Service at War

A presidential panel just said the USPS should operate more like a business: The financially troubled U.S. Postal Service can become leaner and more efficient with a smaller workforce, time limits on collective bargaining and a pay-for-performance system, a presidential panel said yesterday. The President’s Commission on the United States Postal Service also recommended loosening limits on executive pay and requiring postal managers to justify their jobs and the size of their staffs. Big deal. It seems like some panel somewhere is always telling the postal service to get its act together. The postal service gets reamed, and then goes back to business as usual. We know how the process works. The predictability of all this makes the American Postal Workers Union president’s response seem all the more over-the-top. “And while they would say they ‘adjusted’ the collective bargaining process, they shredded it. . . . They’ve declared war on postal employees.” There was one member of the commission who opposed the “war.” Norman Seabrook, president of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, was the only commission member who voted against the proposed changes in collective bargaining and pay. He said pay-for-performance systems would give rise to managers’ rewarding their cronies rather than the best workers, with worker morale plummeting as a result. “It becomes a ‘good old boy’ system that rewards people because of their associations with management,” Seabrook said. Was this guy at the right meeting? Tying pay to performance is a pretty good way to minimize the “good old boy” effect since it’s more likely to emphasize concrete, bottom-line results over less “mission critical” considerations, like who golfs with the boss.