One very hot day I was sitting on my front step here on Marco Island. It was almost 12PM when the mail carrier stopped in front of my mailbox, shutting off the engine of his little vehicle because he had a box to deliver that was too large to put in our mailbox. After putting the box on the front porch, we chatted for a few minutes about the sad state of the current business climate in our country, both public and private.
The mail carrier returned to his vehicle. (Let’s call him Jim.) Jim, upon trying to start his vehicle, found it had a dead battery. It happens a lot with summer heat. I offered him my jumper cables but he responded. “Oh no, that’s against Union Rules. I’m not allowed to accept the offer.”
Jim followed proper protocol and called his office supervisor. When she answered the phone, her response was not only curt but downright rude to an employee who was following union rules to the letter. She responded. “What do you think you are doing, this is my day off?” Whoopee, that’s really helpful! She continued to say, “call so and so, she should be back by about 1:15.” That was at least an hour away.
Jim and I talked for all that time, his truck parked at my mailbox. About 1:30 PM, the Assistant Manager called Jim, her lengthy lunch finally over. “Oh,” was her response. “I’ll call the Roll-back and have them come and get the vehicle.” About 30 minutes later the Roll-back arrived on the scene. It turned out I sorta knew the driver and after greeting each other, I said to him. “For gosh sakes, all he needed to finish his day was a new battery.”
“We are not allowed by the Union to do anything but pick up the vehicle.” He recalled that at one time he could bring a battery charger, charge it in 15 minutes and everyone would be happy and on their way. The Union Rules stopped all that.
The rest of the story comes from Jim, the mail truck driver, and the Roll-back driver. The Roll-back driver transported the little mail truck to the local post office yard. The Supervisor there had to call the Maintenance Supervisor in Fort Myers, some sixty miles away. The Maintenance Supervisor then sent a designated person to analyze and confirm the problem. After due consideration, the designated person returned to Fort Myers, a 120 mile round trip, filled out a report, gave it to his Office Manager. The Office Manager had to review the report so no waste would occur, designate a mechanic from the Fort Myers postal facility to bring a battery to the site, install it, start the truck for Jim and then the mechanic had to return to Fort Myers, another 120 mile round trip. A total of 240 miles to accomplish the task and I am not making any of this up!
In the meantime Jim was delayed two and one half hours before he finally completed his “appointed rounds” at an overtime rate of $40 per hour and the Post Office says it is going broke!! Shame, shame on such a wasteful system. Perhaps it is time to reassess the power of unions and return our government to sound business practices, one service at a time.
The entire dead battery debacle is estimated to have cost the taxpayer from $2,000 to $2,500. Food for thought? I think so.