Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fort Lauderdale Kudos

Fort Lauderdale, FL, Officer in Charge David Guiney presented a retirement certificate to Letter Carrier Ruth Carvalho who has worked at the Plantation, FL, Branch for 10 of her 26-year postal career.  Carvalho will retire on Jan. 31. Guiney also presented a retirement certificate to Letter Carrier Joyce Davis who has worked 10 of her 30-year career at the Westside Branch. Davis will retire Feb. 28.


Fort Lauderdale, FL, Manager, Customer Services Raymond Borger presented Certificates of Appreciation and $100 gift cards to Retail Associates Kimberly Mathis and Lilly Sills of the Galt Ocean Postal Store, the only Fort Lauderdale unit to achieve a perfect Retail Customer Experience (RCE) score on transactions throughout FY14.


Several Fort Lauderdale, FL, Retail Associates achieved a perfect score on their Retail Customer Experience (RCE) transactions: Virginia Johnson, Melrose Vista Branch; Jacqueline White, Melrose Vista Branch; and Theresa Young, Westside Branch.

District Seeks Outstanding Workers for 'Federal Employee of Year' Awards

It’s that time of year to recognize postal employees through the South Florida Federal Executive Board's "Federal Employee of the Year" Awards Program. 

Employees are asked to nominate co-workers who consistently perform above and beyond, who deserve recognition for heroic efforts, or who generously volunteer time to benefit others. 

Award categories include Administrative, Clerical/Administrative Support, Law Enforcement, Management (except Agency Head), Organizational Partnership, Professional, Scientific, Service to the Community, Technical/Information Technology, Trades and Crafts, and Valor. Nominees must work in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, or Palm Beach counties. 

Nomination deadline is Feb. 13. For more information and a nomination package, contact Manager, Learning Development and Diversity Damaris Agrait at 305-470-0881.

Gaulden: Shining Star Day and Night

Michael Gaulden is a valuable team player both on and off the field. By night, Gaulden is a Postal Support Employee who processes mail on the Automated Parcel Bundle Sorter (APBS) at the Royal Palm Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) in Opa-Locka, FL. By day, he coaches the football team at Miami Central High School in West Little River, FL.

The Central Rockets team has won four of five State Championships at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. Competing five consecutive years ---- and with three of the four as consecutive championships --- are state records.

Gaulden admits it can be challenging to hold down two jobs, but he accepts his postal and coaching responsibilities.

Supervisors, Distribution Operations Vanessa R. Brown and Revertha Grace refer to him as “one of our shining stars.”

Barefoot Mailman Hike: Jan. 31-Feb. 1

Approximately 500 Boy Scouts will participate in a two-day, 35-mile hike from the Pompano Beach, FL, Pier to Miami Beach, FL, South Point Park this weekend to commemorate the “Barefoot Mailmen.” Participants must carry all food, shelter, clothing, cooking gear and any items they may use during their weekend excursion. They’ll also carry letters for the Postal Service to postmark with a commemorative cancellation stamp.

From 1885 through 1893, barefoot mailmen braved heat, thunderstorms, alligators, sharks and bears to carry mail back and forth between what is now Palm Beach County and Miami. Crossing inlets by rowboat and hiking along the beach, it took them six days to complete a round trip.

Thirty-year-old Ed Hamilton is the most well-known barefoot mailman who took over the route in 1887.  Hamilton, like the other mailmen, travelled the three inlets on his route — Hillsboro, Port Everglades and Haulover — in a rowboat which he hid in bushes along the shoreline until his return trip. When he failed to return after six days that October, search parties scoured the coastline. On the north bank of Hillsboro Inlet, they found Hamilton's knapsack containing mail and his clothes. Searchers speculated that someone had used Hamilton's boat to cross the inlet, and the mailman decided to swim over and retrieve it. He apparently never made it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

USPS Files Competitive Price Change

Today, the Postal Service filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) a Competitive Products price change.

Unlike other shipping companies, the Postal Service is not implementing any new dimensional weight charges with this pricing proposal, continuing its commitment to deliver the best value for customers.  With affordable shipping options, the Postal Service hopes to attract new business customers to become their delivery provider of choice.

Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), each product must cover its attributable costs while all competitive products, collectively, must contribute an “appropriate share”  to the institutional costs of the Postal Service.  The PRC has defined this share as, at least, 5.5 percent of the Postal Service’s institutional costs. 

While moderate price increases are proposed for the majority of the competitive products, the key elements of the 2015 Competitive price change filing include:
  • No price change for Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, or Pickup on Demand
  • Eliminating the Parcel Return Service – Full Network price category
  • New zoned prices based on origin ZIP Code for Priority Mail International (PMI) destined to Canada
  • An increase to 66 pounds for the maximum weight for PMI Rate Group 17 (Netherlands)
  • Combining the insurance tables for Priority Mail Express International and for PMI to simplify pricing
The Postal Service has structured this pricing proposal to drive business and profitability.  The PRC will review the prices before they are proposed to become effective on April 26, 2015, to determine if prices are consistent with applicable law. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

PMG Praises, Appreciates Employees in Final 'State of Business' Message

In his final State of the Business video, PMG Pat Donahoe praises employees for their performance during the holidays and thanks them for their dedication.
The Postal Service delivered 524 million packages in December, up 18 percent from one year earlier.
“You went above and beyond to make sure this was our best season ever,” the PMG says.
Donahoe, who will retire Feb. 1 after 39 years with USPS, also reflects on the organization’s recent progress. He credits employees with helping to stabilize the Postal Service and continue its aggressive move into package delivery.
“This is just the start. We’re inventing our own future,” the PMG says. “There are many, many opportunities to grow.”
The video concludes with the PMG expressing his appreciation to postal employees.
“We’ve been through a lot of changes over the years, and that’s not been easy,” he says. “Frankly, change is rarely easy. I sincerely appreciate the sacrifices that you’ve made for this organization. I know that we’re all going to be better for it in the long run.”
The PMG’s parting words: “Thank you for your support, your dedication to this organization and our customers, and for your continued hard work as we move this organization forward.”

Blog Seeks Your Heartfelt Input

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, employees are invited to contribute to the Postal Posts blog by writing and submitting stories on this topic:

“With email, texting and social media, why do you think it’s still significant to send and receive cards and letters?”

Submissions must be received by Friday, Feb. 6, and must be accompanied by a signed release form, which employees can download on LiteBlue

To submit a post and release, you can:
  •           Email to with “Employee blog submission” in the subject line
  •          Fax to 202-268-2175 to the attention of “USPS Social Media”
  •          Mail to 475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, RM 10501, Washington DC 20260, to the attention of “USPS Social Media”
Submissions should be between 300-500 words. Only submissions by current postal employees will be accepted.

Blog topics change each month. Visit the employee blog post submissions page for topics and additional guidelines.

Unused Sick Leave Extends Service

Conserving sick leave can extend service time for employees getting ready to retire.

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement Systems (FERS) employees will receive credit on their basic retirement annuities for all accrued and unused sick leave.
Once employees reach the age and service requirements for retirement or accept an early retirement offer, they receive credit for every year and full month of actual service, including service for which the employees completed a deposit or redeposit.
Unused sick leave hours will be added to actual service. The total is then converted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) into additional years and months and used in the computation of their annuity.
Unused sick leave is not used to compute a high-three average salary, which is the highest average basic pay an employee earned during any 36 consecutive months of service (usually during the final three years of work).
Postal employees who are within five years of optional retirement can view their annuity estimates on LiteBlue. For additional information, visit the Blue retirement page.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

USPS Pilots New Mailbox Designs

The Postal Service is testing new, larger mailbox designs that can handle more than 70 percent of the packages sent through the mail.
As the mail mix continues to change — with fewer letters and a growing volume of packages — customers often find their mailbox is stuffed to overflowing.
Many parcels won’t fit in standard curbside boxes, which means packages are delivered to doorsteps — susceptible to theft and damage. Failed delivery attempts and notices are frustrating for residents as well.
An urban mailbox for one or more households is being tested in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. Another mailbox for suburban and rural households is being piloted in California, Colorado and North Dakota.

PCC 'Counts' on Data Management

Sun Sentinel Tribune Direct, Sr. Database Marketing Analyst Paul Curry (seated front) facilitates a Database Management seminar for the Postal Customer Council of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast.

Story & Photo: Gale Jackson, Customer Relations Coordinator, West Palm Beach 

The Postal Customer Council of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast hosted a Database Management Seminar to a group of PCC and Industry attendees.  Business professionals included in the year’s first seminar were Wilen Direct Mail Specialists Danielle Aleman and Nancy Mai; Haverhill Branch Manager, Customer Services Valerie Carbone; Southeastern Printing Mailing Manager Greg Dodiq; American Business Equipment owner James Locklair; Business Service Network Representative Vivian Plather; AMS Marketing Chief Executive Officer/PCC Industry Chairperson Alfred Smith; American Sales Industries Chief Executive Officer Pat Talerico; Better Business Bureau Business Specialist Sandra Thornton; and The Bureau Chief Executive Officer Resa Walton.

According to Sun Sentinel Tribune Direct Sr. Database Marketing Analyst Paul Curry, West Palm Beach has 693,487 mail drops, 412,766 Single Family Homes, 207,452 Multi-Family Units, 52,934 Businesses, 3,361 Trailers, and 19,452 Post Office Boxes.  
“Data is everywhere --- it’s all around us.  Now that you have it, what are you going to do with it?” asked Curry. “You can track sales, determine a store’s layout based on sales data, advertise, track inventory, and provide a response analysis to a given campaign.”

“I am really glad to see the PCC hold a seminar on Database Management,” said Barry Leventon of B H Leventon’s Consulting. 

“We are excited about our 2015 educational seminars which have been uploaded to our website at,” said Smith.

Love is in the Air 'Forever' and Ever

The Postal Service will dedicate this year’s Love stamps in Richmond, the capital of the state with the slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers.” The First-Day-Of-Issue ceremony for the limited edition Love: Forever Hearts stamps will be Thursday, January 22, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Combining artistic vision with a symbol of undying affection, the 2015 Forever Hearts stamps depict the ancient association between eternal love and the heart. Lacy lettering in the shape of a heart spells out the word “Forever” on two stamps. One design features red lettering on a white background; the other is reversed, with white lettering on a field of red. Artist Jessica Hische created the lettering that forms the heart, first drawing her design by hand and then finishing the stamp art digitally. 

A religious symbol, a motif in art, an expression of affection or support — today the heart is everywhere, not only at Valentine’s Day, but also year-round. It signifies romantic love as well as love of people, places, or ideas. In February, the heart is found on everything from cookies to cards to kids’ clothes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Carrier Rescues Young Boy from Dog

Margate Manager, Customer Services Camille Moscola-Calvo shared below letter from a grateful customer to Supervisor, Customer Services Carlisa Brannon:

Good Morning, 
I am writing this letter to express my gratitude in reference to an encounter my family experienced with an employee who exhibited courage during a traumatic situation for my son. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the selfless act of kindness of Maribel Mendoza displayed during this incident.
On Saturday, January 17, 2015, I was in the back of my home doing yard work when  my eldest son ran toward me in panic. He was screaming that my younger son was being attacked by a dog. I immediately ran to the front of the house, at which time I witnessed Ms. Mendoza holding onto my four year old, preventing the dog from biting him.
It appears that a neighbor’s dog got loose and ran straight for my son, knocking him off his bicycle. The dog was aggressively barking and showing his teeth when Ms. Mendoza was walking down the block at the same time. She put herself in harm’s way and protected my son by picking him up out of reach from the dog and holding him until the dog retreated. If Ms. Mendoza did not act there is no doubt in my mind the dog would have inflicted serious injury on my son. 
On behalf of myself and my family, I would like to thank Ms. Mendoza for her actions on that day.
Michael Ali

Estupinan Aids Customer in Need

 Palms Central Carrier Annex Manager Customer Services Pablo Estupinan

Story & Photo: Gale Jackson, Customer Relations Coordinator, West Palm Beach

While on his way to a meeting at the South Florida District Office in Pembroke Pines, Palms Central Carrier Annex Manager, Customer Services Pablo Estupinan was proceeding onto the ramp at the Sawgrass Expressway when he observed a woman lying on the ground next to her vehicle parked on the shoulder of the highway. 
“I couldn’t understand how drivers could see a person lying on the ground at such a busy highway exchange and drive right past her without stopping!  So I pulled over to see if I could be of assistance' said Estupinan. "After speaking with the woman, I learned she had just had outpatient surgery and was trying to get home. I offered to call 911 and remained with her to ensure her safety until they arrived.”
“We never know when our how paths will cross with someone needing assistance, and there is an opportunity to demonstrate our civic duty," said West Palm Beach Postmaster Richard Fermo. "The U S Postal Service is proud of Pablo Estupinan and his act of kindness to a member of the general public.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

CBS Sunday Morning to Feature Stamp Collecting on Jan 18 Broadcast

CBS Sunday Morning is scheduled to air a report on stamp collecting Jan. 18.
PMG Pat Donahoe was interviewed for the segment, along with prominent collector William H. Gross and David Robinson, a Virginia accountant who found one of the 100 “upright” Inverted Jenny stamps released in 2013.
CBS Sunday Morning airs from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in most cities. Check local listings.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Forever Stamp Prices Unchanged

The U.S. Postal Service today filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of a price increase for Mailing Services products based upon the Consumer Price Index (CPI) cap authority. The filing, if approved, would keep Forever Stamps at their current price of 49 cents.
The First-Class Mail prices for these products are:  
                                                                     Current            Proposed           
Letters (1 oz.)                                                 49 cents            49 cents
Letters additional ounces                               21 cents            22 cents
Letters to all international destinations               $1.15                 $1.20
Postcards                                                       34 cents             35 cents

Today’s action is the latest in a series of steps the Postal Service has taken as part of a comprehensive approach to achieve financial stability. By growing volume, revenue and contribution, the Postal Service will continue to meet America’s mailing and shipping needs well into the future. While improving efficiency in streamlining its network and seeking legislative changes, the Postal Service must address an outdated business model.
Some of the key elements of the proposal include the following:
  • Maintains single-piece stamp prices at 49 cents 
  • Addresses PRC concerns about underwater products 
  • Simplifies Special Services to reduce redundancy and improve customer ease of use
The filing does not affect Postal Service Shipping products and services and are proposed to become effective on April 26, 2015.
The PRC will review the prices before they are proposed to become effective on April 26, 2015, to determine if prices are consistent with applicable law. 

Plantation Carrier is Safe Driver

Letter Carrier James Fischi receives National Safety Council's Safe Driver Award. Photo: Amy McCall

Plantation Branch Letter Carrier James Fischi is a proud recipient of the National Safety Council's Safe Driver Award. For 37 years, Fischi has driven more than one million miles without experiencing an accident. Manager, Customer Services Virginia Rhodes thanked Fischi for his conscientiousness and presented him with the plaque and a $500 award.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Issued in 1999 as part of the Celebrate the Century: 1960s series, the above stamp pays tribute to Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, to 250,000 supporters in Washington DC. 

Dr. King was a key figure in the civil rights’ movement and was an advocate of using non-violent means to protest discrimination. At the age of 35, he was the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize at the time.

He was assassinated in 1968, and many civil rights’ activists petitioned for a holiday to be declared in his honor. President Ronald Reagan declared a holiday in observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. The first Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday was observed on January  20, 1986. Martin Luther King, Jr’s actual birthday was on January 15, 1929. The holiday celebrating his life and recognizing his accomplishments in the civil rights’ movement is designed to fall near his birthday --- on the third Monday in January since 1992.

The purpose of the public holiday is to remember the struggles that people have had to overcome to obtain civil rights. In recent years, the holiday has become an opportunity for Americans to dedicate their day off to providing volunteer services to charitable organizations. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Combined Federal Campaign: Employees Contribute 101% of Goal!

The South Florida District not only met its Combined Federal Campaign goal of $734,437.00, but exceeded it, bringing in $743,003.91. That's 101% of goal!
Thanks to all employees who contributed. Special thanks to Loaned Executives John Booth, Pat Coney, David Huggins, and Leona Yerks for their hard work and persistence to make it happen. Special thanks as well to Jennifer Thonus for her assistance and her keeping track of the finances. 
We are hoping we will have an opportunity to once again win the Traveling Trophy for the South Florida District.   
Thanks again to each and every one of you for your support in this campaign. 
--- Damaris Agrait, Manager, Learning Development & Diversity and CFC Coordinator
In 2010, the South Florida District celebrated winning the traveling trophy for being the federal agency with the highest contributions to the CFC. Will the traveling trophy return  home this year?

Dynamic Duo Opens (Every) Door (Direct Mail) to New Revenue

BSN Representative Vivian Plather
Story & Photos: Lillian Castro, Program Manager, Communications Ambassador Program

During a recent Postal Customer Council meeting, South Florida District Business Service Network Representative Vivian Plather was instrumental in identifying an opportunity with Every Door Direct Mail.
Postal Center International, Inc. (PCI) is a private company categorized under Mailing and Shipping Services. The business is dedicated to high-volume, high-speed mail handling and digital printing solutions with a focus on problem-solving technology. They bring streamline logistics, as the scope of their services covers from printing to database management, automated folding, inserting, and barcoding. Their goal is to handle an entire project while effectively controlling costs.
PCI Customer Service Manager Laura Shtrax (left)
and Manager Sales and Marketing Roy Leise (right)

When PCI's Customer Service Manager Laura Shtrax, Manager Sales and Marketing Roy Leise, and Customer Service Representative Alan Dworkin heard about Every Door Direct Mail, they immediately jumped on board, but were concerned that some clients would perceive delays with their return on investment.  So Vivian introduced them to Priority Mail Open & Distribute (PMOD) to expedite Every Door Direct Mail pieces.
She explained that PMOD expedites shipping and arrives within one to two business days versus Standard Mail taking anywhere from five to seven days; once received at the delivery unit, the mail is delivered within two days. Shtrax was elated and that’s when Plather brought in Field Sales Representative Sr. Lamont DeJarnett to assist with the needed software. DeJarnett also engaged personnel from 
PCI has now entered into a Commercial Plus Pricing agreement, committing a minimum volume of 600 PMOD containers annually to the USPS. Plather assists with ordering the PMOD containers and alerts the field when they are being entered into the mailstream.
To start, PCI is shipping Every Door Direct Mail with Priority Mail Open & Distribute for about  five clients, resulting in annual estimated new revenue of $20,000.  PCI is looking forward to promoting and servicing other clients with this option throughout the state. 

The Envelope, Please ...

It’s that time of year to recognize postal employees through the South Florida Federal Executive Board's "Federal Employee of the Year" Awards Program.
If you know an employee who consistently performs above and beyond, who deserves recognition for heroic efforts, or who generously volunteers time to benefit others, you should take this opportunity to honor this individual.
There are 11 award categories: 
  • Administrative 
  • Clerical/Administrative Support 
  • Law Enforcement 
  • Management (except Agency Head) 
  • Organizational Partnership 
  • Professional 
  • Scientific 
  • Service to the Community 
  • Technical/Information Technology 
  • Trades and Crafts 
  • Valor
Nominees must work in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, or Palm Beach counties.
Nominations must be based on demonstrated performance between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014.  Although it is possible a nominee could be considered for more than one category, you should be guided by the nature of the accomplishments for which the employee is being recommended.
Please see your supervisor for a nomination package due to Damaris Agrait, Manager, Learning Development and Diversity, on or before Friday, February 13. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

USPS 'Delivering a New Day' in 2015

The theme of this year’s annual report — Delivering a New Day — reflects a renewed commitment on the part of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to view every day as a new opportunity to deliver great service to our customers. This is fitting, because throughout 2014, we delivered more than 155 billion packages and pieces of mail to almost 154 million delivery points and did so reliably and affordably. In doing so, we earned the trust of the American public by maintaining the privacy and security of the items we delivered.

So where is our business in Fiscal Year 2014? Despite challenging marketplace conditions, an inflexible business model imposed by federal law and financial issues caused by legislative constraints, the Postal Service is moving forward with a lot of momentum. In many core aspects of our business — from operational performance to developing and marketing new products and services — we are making progress, resulting in a strong foundation for the future of the organization.

Revisiting History in New Orleans

January 8 marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans — a triumphant U.S. victory over the British in the War of 1812.
To commemorate the historic event, the Postal Service dedicated the War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans stamp at the site of the battle — the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve/Chalmette Battlefield inLouisiana.
“In halting the British plans to attack New Orleans, Major General Andrew Jackson almost instantly established himself as a national icon and military hero,” said USPS Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee member Peter Argentine.
“By portraying achievers and achievements — ideas and ideals — stamps honor America’s heritage and heroes and bring historical subjects to life,” said Argentine. “That is certainly true of our newest stamp.” 

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Faces, New Places in New Year; Gilbert Covers as Sr. Plant Manager

Karlett E. Gilbert
The New Year brings some changes to the South Florida District Leadership Team.

The South Florida District welcomes Karlett Elaine Gilbert, Senior Plant Manager, Alabama District, as Acting Senior Plant Manager.

  Gilbert began her postal career as a mail handler, Houston, TX, in 1993 and was promoted to Supervisor, Distribution Operations, Houston, TX, in 1997. During her career, Gilbert has held various positions, including Enterprise Research Management System (eRMS)/Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) District Coordinator, Houston District; and Manager, Distribution Operations and Senior Manager, Distribution Operations, Houston Processing and Distribution Center. Gilbert also was detailed as Plant Manager, North Houston Processing and Distribution Center. She was Senior Plant Manager, New Orleans District, and then Senior Plant Manager, Arkansas District, prior to her current position as Senior Plant Manager, Alabama District.

Gilbert earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Houston and her graduate degree from the University of Phoenix. She is also a graduate of the U.S. Postal Service’s Processing and Distribution Management Program, Advanced Leadership Program, and the Executive Leadership Program. She also holds a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

Gilbert, a native Houstonian, served in the U.S. Army and is a Desert Storm veteran.

Other leadership changes are as follows:

  • Susan Aronson, Sr Plant Manager to A/District Manager, Mississippi District
  • Scott Bower, Postmaster, Ft Lauderdale, to A/Sr Plant Manager, Alabama District
  • David Guiney, Postmaster, Hollywood, to Officer In Charge, Ft Lauderdale
  • Phyllis Reed, Postmaster, Delray Beach to Officer In Charge, Hollywood

Fort Lauderdale Postmaster Bower Details to Sr Plant Manager, Alabama

The New Year brings a change to the Alabama District Leadership Team. Welcome Scott R. Bower, Postmaster, Fort Lauderdale, FL, as Acting Senior Plant Manager. He is covering this position as Senior Plant Manager Karlett Gilbert is detailed as Acting Senior Plant Manager, South Florida District.

Bower began his postal career as a Letter Sorting Machine (LSM) Clerk in San Bernardino, CA, in 1988. He was promoted to Supervisor, Customer Services, San Diego District, in 1995, and in 1998, was promoted to Postmaster, Barstow, CA.  During his career, Bower has held various Customer Service managerial positions to include Manager, Customer Services and Manager, Post Office Operations in the Cincinnati, Sacramento, and South Georgia Districts.

In January 2009, he was promoted to Postmaster, Hollywood, FL, and in December 2012, was appointed to Postmaster, Fort Lauderdale, FL, an executive leadership position, South Florida District. Prior to his Alabama detail assignment, Bower served as Acting Plant Manager, West Palm Beach Processing and Distribution Center, South Florida District.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Remembering Elvis

Elvis Aron Presley would have celebrated his 80th birthday today.

In 1992, the American public voted on a matter of vital national importance: young Elvis or old Elvis?

Allowing the public to select the artwork for the Elvis Presley stamp was an unprecedented move by the U.S. Postal Service. The choice was between two equally superb but thematically distinct portraits: a watercolor of the youthful Elvis by Mark Stutzman, or a more mature Elvis painted by John Berkey.

Pre-addressed ballots were distributed in Post Offices around the country and in the April 13, 1992, edition of People magazine. America spoke, returning nearly 1.2 million ballots to the Postal Service, and the choice was clear: More than 75 percent of voters preferred young Elvis. The stamp was dedicated at Graceland just a few moments after midnight on January 8, 1993—Elvis’s 58th birthday.

Across the country, reaction to the voting process was boisterous and opinionated. Members of Congress debated the worthiness of Elvis as a stamp subject, newspaper editorialists made lofty pronouncements, and presidential candidate Bill Clinton publicly voiced his support for the younger Elvis. Meanwhile, comedians and cartoonists used the opportunity to poke fun at the Postal Service, the 1992 presidential candidates, and even Elvis himself.

The Elvis stamp is still one of the most talked-about stamps ever issued by the Postal Service—and the most popular U.S. commemorative stamp of all time.

Simply the Best: Pompano Retail, Greenacres SSK Adoption Rate

Pompano, FL, “Rudolph and Sleigh” holiday display

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the nation’s longest-running and highest-rated Christmas television special “went down in history” to receive its stamp of approval. Like Rudolph and his friends, South Florida Retail Associates competed for a place in history --- in the District Holiday Retail Competition.

Congratulations to Pompano, FL, Main Office Retail Associates for their interpretation of “Rudolph and Sleigh” and their sales skills that generated $2,300 in the “Most Sold Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Stamps” category. 

Kudos to the Greenacres Branch for beating the competition with 51.26%, the highest Self Service Kiosk (SSK)/Automated Postal Center (APC) Adoption Rate for December. The Marketing Department will cater lunch to Retail Associates at the winning offices.

The Key Largo Post Office and Miami’s Norland Branch earned an Honorable Mention for their holiday displays of postal packaging, primarily Priority Mail products.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's a Wrap! Media Package USPS Holiday Coverage for 'Our Season'

CBS 4 11/24/14
Post Office to Delivery Holiday Packages 7 Days a Week

Diario Palm Beach 11/24/14
It's 7-Day Holiday Package Delivery in South Florida

Palm Beach Daily News 11/28/14
Postal Service Adds Sunday Package Deliveries for Holidays
Miami ISC Gears Up for Holidays

CBS 4 12/8/14
One Week until the Busiest Day of Year for Post Offices

CBS 4 12/15/14
Busiest Mailing Day of Year

WSVN 7 (FOX) 12/15/14
Savvy Shipping

WPBF 25 (ABC) 12/15/14
Busiest Shipping Day of Year

WPTV 5 (NBC) 12/15/14
Busiest Shipping Day of Year

NBC 6 12/18/14
Busiest Package Delivery Day of Year

El Latino 12/22/14
Rudolph Stamp Dedication

El Latino 12/22/14
Holiday Retail Hours at the Post Office 12/22/14
Holiday Retail Hours at the Post Office

WPTV Channel 5 (NBC) 12/23/14
Customers Race to Send Packages in Time for Christmas Arrivals

CBS 4 12/24/14
Take a Look at South Florida Kids’ Letters to Santa

PMG Addresses National Press Club

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe was the featured speaker at the January 6, 2015 National Press Club Newsmakers news conference in Washington DC. Speaking to reporters collectively for the last time prior to his retirement, Donahoe praised postal employees for their hard work and accomplishments and also offered postal stakeholders some unsolicited advice for a profitable future.

Good morning.
It’s nice to be back at the National Press Club.

About 40 years ago I was rousted out of my bed by my Uncle Bob….because he wanted make sure I got down to the Pittsburgh General Post Office on time to take a postal job exam.  If he hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be here now.
I ended up working afternoons while I was going to the University of Pittsburgh during the day – it wasn’t so easy managing those two demands on my time. Today, I consider getting that job a very lucky start to my career.
Now….if you could talk to that younger version of myself at that time of my life, there’s no way I would ever have guessed that I would stay with the Postal Service for 40 years – much less that I would be able to lead a 630,000 person organization and serve as Postmaster General.

I was fortunate at every stage of my career: I found interesting challenges and opportunities and great mentors.  That’s a testament to a special organization, and really great people who are dedicated to serve the American public every day. owever, when you have 40 years of perspective and you’re still working out of a tough financial crisis, you wonder about the young person who might be joining the Postal Service today.

What is the organization going to look like in ten or 20 years? How will we serve our customers in the future?  Will that person have the same opportunities? Those questions need to be addressed. And, the best approach is to take a broad, long-term view of the organization and develop strategies that best serve our customers and employees into the future.

  • Can the Postal Service operate profitably far into the future?  Absolutely.
  • Can it continue to adapt quickly to changes in the marketplace? We’ve proved that.
  • Can it continue to meet its full potential as an engine of growth for the mailing industry and America’s businesses?  Yes.
  • Can it do these things within its current business model? Not likely.
If you’ve followed my tenure as Postmaster General over the past four years, you’ll know that I spent a decent amount of time trying to push for legislation that would give the Postal Service greater operational flexibility.
  • This means having greater control over the way we manage our workforce, including healthcare benefits;
  • This means fully managing our infrastructure;
  • This means having greater pricing and product development flexibility; and
  • It means being able to solve problems and pursue opportunities without irrational mandates and legislative requirements.
Retiree health benefits are my favorite example of an absurd mandate. Unlike practically any other organization, the Postal Service is required to prefund the retiree health benefits that we have promised to our employees.
Unfortunately, Congress decided to make the Postal Service prepay a 40-year obligation in a ten-year period – which we could have been able to pay, if the Internet had never been invented.
To compound the issue, we massively overpay for retiree health insurance. That’s because our employees are in plans that don’t leverage the Medicare benefits that the Postal Service and our employees have already paid for.
Under our current mandates, we’re supposed to pay a total of $96 billion into a Treasury department account.  We paid roughly $48 billion prior to 2011, and defaulted on roughly $22 billion over the past three years.
The sad part of all of this is that it could be fixed immediately with legislation. If we integrate Medicare into our retiree healthcare plans we would be fully funded after just one final $3 billion payment. Done.
Rather than overspend on healthcare, we could be spending those funds on a new vehicle fleet, package sortation equipment, pay down debt, and significantly slow postage price increases.

What’s holding us up?  Myopia….shortsightedness.
That may sound a little harsh, but it would be too easy to say that it’s just Congressional gridlock. To no avail, we’ve been trying to get postal reform legislation passed for the past four years.
As much as we try to have an elevated conversation about the future of the organization, we never get beyond the narrow set of interests that are determined to preserve the status quo.
The Postal Service put together a smart, comprehensive business plan and made recommendations about legislative changes to get us back on a sound financial footing.
We didn’t get much support from our unions or the mailing industry – because it threatened the status quo.
The mailing industry views the future of the Postal Service mostly through the lens of pricing – so they don’t want the Postal Service to have greater product and pricing flexibility. I’ve always found this very odd, because the ongoing lack of reform creates more pressure to raise prices – which is what happened this past year.
Our labor unions view the future of the organization mostly through the lens of preserving jobs and benefits as they currently exist. Technology is driving dramatic changes in delivery services – just look at how Amazon is offering one-hour delivery in New York City. The Postal Service needs the flexibility to be a part of those changes – and more importantly, to shape those changes.
The Postal Service is delivering packages seven days a week in most parts of the country.  We don’t need to be delivering mail on Saturdays. It just doesn’t make financial sense given the drop in mail volumes, and the public supports making the change to five-days of mail delivery.

My hope is that the new Congress will find ways to build consensus. It has to start with a real willingness on the part all stakeholders to take a longer-term view of the organization. The narrow interests can’t continue to get in the way of the broader national interest.
Just last year the American Postal Workers Union mounted a protest campaign and disrupted our partnership with Staples, which was a great business partner for the Postal Service. The Postal Service partnered with Staples to provide our customers with more convenient access to a wide range of our products and services in roughly 82 Staples stores. It was successful in terms of driving greater revenue for both partners.
Unfortunately, the APWU approach is to try to keep all of our transactions in Post Offices. That’s not convenient for our customers, and it’s not a smart retail strategy for our business.  We’d much prefer to be able to sell our products and services with a multitude of retail partners and be in popular locations to make it easier and more convenient for people to do business with us.
It’s an example of the arrow, near-sighted view winning over the broader, long-term strategy. Unfortunately, it’s now tougher for us to find retail partners.
Attitudes have to change…and I hope they will.
I’ve been accused of being optimistic to a fault.  Perhaps I am….but I believe this new Congress will take a fresh look at the long-term future of the Postal Service and pass the legislation we need.

As someone who’s leaving his job in a few weeks, I’ll offer some unsolicited advice on the way out.
First of all, acknowledge the reality that the mailing and shipping marketplace is changing… rapidly.
  • First-Class Mail volumes have declined by 35 percent in the past ten years. That would be worth $17 billion in annual revenue today – and it’s not coming back;
  • E-commerce is driving big demand for delivery services.  That’s what’s driving our package business growth;
  • Location-based technology is enabling tremendous new ways of adding value to delivery; and
  • Integrating mail with digital technologies is creating powerful strong business opportunities for the senders of mail.
These facts about our business need to be part of the business model discussion.
Will the Postal Service always continue to fulfill its core service mission?  Yes – but Congress needs to look at the Postal Service as a business that is going to be a lot different in the coming years – and it should view this as a positive, desirable outcome.

Second, Congress needs to take a broader, long-term view of the organization.
America needs a strong Postal Service.  It needs a Postal Service with a business model that is profitable over the long-term so that it can continually invest in the future.
We owe our customers and the nation a Postal Service that will continue to drive the economy, help businesses grow, and provide continually improving products and services.
The discussion about the future of the organization would benefit greatly by working toward a 10 or 15-year time horizon.  If you truly embrace the longer-term view, many of the narrow, special interest issues have a completely different context and become much less important.

Third, the Postal Service needs the authority and the flexibility to manage the organization more like a business.  That means streamlined governance, fewer constraints on pricing and products, workforce flexibility, and freedom from irrational mandates.
We will always have strong oversight, and checks and balances.  We also need to have the attitude across the industry that encourages flexibility in the way we manage the organization and adapt to the marketplace.

Fourth, I would encourage Congress to view the Postal Service as a test bed or laboratory of change that might be applied to the rest of the federal government.
When we look at the workforce we’ll need in 20 or 30 years, what we are doing today will have to evolve.
Most young people aren’t looking for a single employer over the course of their careers.  In today’s world, does it really make sense to offer the promise of a government pension to a 22 year-old who is just entering the workforce?  And how reliable is that promise?
Postal Service’s financial issues are similar to those facing the federal government.  At some point the costs have to come down and those promises of benefits have to be paid.  Just look at the unfunded liabilities with military vets and federal, state and local retirement systems.
We’ve proposed transitioning from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution program for postal employees. A thrift savings plan or IRA would give our employees much more mobility and flexibility.  It may also be a much more responsible and honest arrangement when all is said and done.

I’d like to see the Congress encourage much more experimentation at the federal level.  The Postal Service has the kind of management that would appreciate being at the front edge of change and would make good use of opportunities.
Healthcare reform is another important area for experimentation. I don’t think anyone would argue that the federal government isn’t massively overpaying for employee and retiree healthcare benefits. Let the Postal Service develop a more cost-effective approach.  We’ve developed some promising proposals – we should have the flexibility to pursue them.

Over the past four years, I have had the privilege to lead a great management team and a tremendous organization through some challenging times.
I’m very pleased to say that our last fiscal year was our best of the past six years.
We earned a controllable income profit of $1.4 billion. Considering that we recorded a $2.4 billion controllable income loss in 2012, that profit represents a very big success for the organization. We’ve also accumulated $6 billion in cash, which gives us some flexibility to make long overdue investments.
It was pretty gloomy coming out of the 2008/2009 recession. We were facing declines in every part of our business.
We had to revamp and improve our core offerings. We significantly upgraded our product development and marketing strategies – which helped spur strong growth in our package business in particular.
If you look at the fact that we offer date-specified delivery, free insurance and free tracking for our Priority Mail offerings. That’s a great value to the sender and it continues to attract more customers to the Postal Service.
However, we couldn’t have offered those features if hadn’t taken a long-term approach to upgrading our technology and tracking systems. We’ve worked hard to put a strong data and technology platform in place to drive future innovation.
One of the reasons we’ve solidified our mail revenue over the past two years – especially standard mail – is because of the rich reporting data we now provide to our commercial customers.
We’ve also worked hard to develop a culture of risk-taking and experimentation.
We’re delivering groceries in San Francisco; we’re doing same-day deliveries in New York; we’re delivering on Sundays in many markets; we’re doing some small scale warehousing services.  It’s been yielding results.
Every Door Direct Mail is a digital tool designed to bring small businesses into the mail – it was an experiment that’s now driving almost a billion dollars in annual revenue for us.
We’ve also invested in our product development and marketing strategies. We’ve revitalized our sales operations. Nagisa Manabe and her team have done a wonderful job of getting closer to our customer and competing for their business. We’ve now got a lot of momentum as an organization as a result.
We’ve been just as aggressive on the cost side of the equation. Since 2006, we reduced our cost base by almost $16 billion.
  • We did that by consolidating 305 mail processing facilities.
  • Our Post Plan optimized the window hours at 13,000 Post Offices.
  • We eliminated 23,000 delivery routes, even as the number of delivery points rises every year.
  • We’ve reduced the size of our workforce by 212,000 positions, relying on an orderly process of attrition and without resorting to layoffs.
I think from any perspective, you have to say that it was the result of developing a strong, long-term strategy, ignoring the naysayers and following through.
If we hadn’t pressed so hard and moved as quickly as we did, especially on the cost side of the equation, I have no doubt we would have run off the financial cliff by now. Had we done nothing, Congress would likely be bailing us out to the tune of billions of dollars annually.
If there’s one message I have today, it’s this:
We made a lot of tough decisions that were based on a long-term view of what was right for the organization. We used every bit of flexibility we had – as we should have.
That should be seen as a strong argument for allowing the organization to have the additional flexibility it needs to deal with some of our bigger structural issues.
If given that flexibility, I have no doubt the Postal Service will continue to aggressively adapt to a changing world and a changing marketplace, and do so profitably. That would be the best way to meet the expectations of the American public.

Let me conclude by recognizing the performance of our employees over the holiday season.
We saw package deliveries increase by over 18 percent and our on-time performance was the best ever. Our employees were delivering in some tough weather conditions – as they always do – and….on Sundays for the past eight weeks in all the major markets. That’s a testament to an incredible organizational effort and employees who are highly dedicated to their public service mission.

With all of the technology changes and disruptions…the Postal Service still remains a critical part of the American economy and American society.
It has been a pleasure to serve the organization and the American people for almost 40 years.
As I leave, I do so with a lot of optimism and confidence.  My successor, Megan Brennan, is going to be a tremendous leader of the Postal Service. She’s been vital to our recent successes and will do a great job of leading the organization in the coming years. It makes it a lot easier to pass the baton knowing that the organization will be in such good hands.
Thanks for the invitation and the opportunity to speak with you today. I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of you over the past few years.