Saturday, November 8, 2008

Go postal: another blow to privatization

Ever since I attended a Black Teamsters conference in St. Louis, I have been meaning to post the fact - unknown to most of us, I'd guess - that UPS is unionized and labor-friendly, while Fed Ex is decidedly neither. (Helps explain why FedEx sponsors the PGA, the bosses' game.) "Ship with UPS if you support working families" was going to be my message.

But a new Consumer Reports report shifts my message to "sometimes the government (in this case, the U.S. Postal Service) is better, and not only when the bosses need their banks bailed out."

In a recent study, Consumer Reports found that although all three shippers delivered next-day as promised, the U.S. Postal Service prices were as much as 281 percent cheaper than FedEx and UPS.

Consumer Reports sent three packages, one from each shipper, for next-day delivery from Yonkers, N.Y. to 16 recipients in 12 states using the U.S Postal Service, FedEx and UPS. Every package contained a paperback book and was shipped in a bag, box, or envelope based on the shipper’s recommendation.

The Postal Service was the least expensive by far for local and long-distance deliveries and charged a flat rate of $16.50 for the letter-size envelope provided. The other shippers base prices on weight and the distance traveled, so UPS charged $62.87 for next-day delivery to Oregon and $29.55 to Manhattan. FedEx charged $54.57 and $27.48, respectively.

Consumer Reports also checked prices for a 5-pound package sent from New York to California next-day, two-day and regular ground service. The Postal Service charged the lowest price on next-day and two-day and more or less tied FedEx on price for ground shipping.

In addition, the Postal Service doesn’t add a fuel surcharge, which is adjusted monthly by the other carriers. Plus, the Postal Service offers discounts of 3 to 11 percent to customers who arrange their shipping online.

And for us social justice types, good to know that U.S. postal workers - like their counterparts at UPS, but unlike the grunts at FedEx - are organized.

For more information check out the December issue of Consumer Reports or visit

Why am I tracking this stuff? I do edit a community newspaper and this is valuable community news, but I also used to work at a magazine in New York with a nice guy who has a cool name (Doug Love) and who now does PR for Consumer Reports and keeps The St. Louis American on his press list.


Image from The Consumerist.


Dana said...

My fella worked for UPS for over two years. The Teamsters signed a new contract that give new hires less money, and makes them wait a year for their benefits. Hmmm....Is anyone shocked that they're getting rid of many of the employees who have only been there a few years? Why pay someone $12 when you can pay them $7? Why continue to pay someone's health insurance when you can hire someone new and can leave it alone for a full year?
Teamsters are a joke.

Confluence City said...

I don't doubt that unions do stupid things, but it's even more difficult to trust the bosses, and they tend to respond to nothing but power - and there is power in organization.