By Mel Carriere
When Russian dictator Josef Stalin finally gave up the ghost in 1953 there followed what was known as a De-Stalinization period, during which some of the tyrant's most abominable and disgraceful human rights abuses were ended, including large scale forced labor. Now I know many of my postal pals out there will claim that forced labor is still in effect in the USPS, especially when working 10-12 hour days in the snow, implying that the Postal Service is not much better than Soviet Russia. This may actually be close to the truth, because there are other similarities between the Post Office and the now defunct Soviet Union that have manifest themselves since the departure of Pat Donahoe and the swearing in of new PMG Megan Brennan.
In particular, the USPS is now undergoing its own De-Stalinization period, specifically known as De-Donahoeization, during which postal employees across the width and breadth of the land are breathlessly waiting to see if the policies of new Postmaster General Megan Brennan will be more enlightened, rational, and beneficial for the long term health of the agency than those of her now "retired" predecessor.
If looks alone could predict the future, I would say that we are all in trouble. The picture you see above, comparing Megan Brennan to the famous Internet meme "Grumpy Cat" is in widespread circulation on Facebook, and I pulled this example off of the NALC Facebook page to help make my point. I don't know who originally posted this pic but it was brilliantly done, even if it may ominously foretell a strenuous uphill battle we have ahead of us to preserve our organization in some semblance of its present form, for the sake of the economic well being of the organization's employees and the American people in general.
If you ask me, even though the lady just started she already looks overwhelmed. The unmistakable bags under her eyes speak volumes about what she is up against. I don't envy the heavy load of responsibility she carries upon her shoulders; I certainly wouldn't want the job, but I question whether she is equipped to handle the burden and whether or not the course she steers as the new Captain of the ship will vary significantly from the man who used to command on the bridge? Will she be Columbus guiding us to a happy New World with unlimited possibilities, or will she turn out to be another Edward Smith, the infamous skipper who drove the Titanic into an iceberg?
What the De-Donahoeization process should consist of is ending the "Network Rationalization" mail processing plant closures, bringing back First Class Mail delivery standards to where they were before the January 5th change slowed down mail for millions of Americans, and ending the crusade against the elimination of Saturday delivery.
But it did not take long for the new Postmaster General to demonstrate that what De-Donahoeization really means is that she intends to steam along the same destructive penny-wise dollar foolish course plotted by her predecessor. Despite cheery messages to postal employees that the Postal Service is now going to be all about people, she has not signaled that there will be any changes to the Obama-endorsed plan to cut Saturday delivery. She is also full steam ahead with the 82 plant closures scheduled for 2015, meaning that if she intends to be about people, she means postal people who are either unemployed or relocated dozens or hundreds of miles from their homes. Or perhaps she means dissatisfied customer people waiting impatiently by their mailboxes for checks and other important documents sent via first class mail, items that used to arrive in a timely manner but from here on out are going to be two or three days late.
If these are the kind of people that Megan Brennan is all about, then I'm afraid the De-Donahoeization of the Postal Service means business as usual. The photo attached to the title of Postmaster General of the United States certainly has not become easier on the eyes, and I'm afraid "Grumpy Cat's" status-quo policies do not bode well for our future either.
Above photo taken from the NALC Facebook page. Original author unknown.
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