Postal Pique

September 18, 1992

It was bound to happen. As soon as Postmaster General Marvin Runyon announced a sweeping cut of 42,000 postal supervisors, the union representing supervisors rushed to Congress threatening court action. Even worse, members of Congress took up the union's cause.

Postal prices cannot be stabilized unless the Postal Service's gigantic bureaucracy is sharply reduced. Wages and benefits account for over 80 cents of every dollar spent. The postal empire of 600,000 employees is just too big and cumbersome.

But downsizing can't be achieved if legislators kow-tow to postal labor unions. Forty percent of supervisors outside union jurisdiction will be given early retirement; the same percentage will probably hold for union supervisors, too. This will save $2.1 billion and delay any postal rate hike.

Will mail delivery be impeded? We doubt it. Can modern management practices make this public agency more effective for citizens? Absolutely. Will the unions object loud and long to any restructuring that involves fewer workers? Count on it.

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