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Results: The History of News & Communication * Part Fifty-Five* A Brief History of the United States Postal Service continues...
Published on 05/26/2023
Despite the Postal Services’ successes during World War II and the postwar years, by the 1960s, the agency was facing a number of issues: aging facilities, outdated procedures, and disgruntled customers frustrated with these inefficiencies.
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1.The postwar economic boom prompted the Postal Service to introduce the "zip code" system in the 1960s. This five-digit number was a way to better organize the ever-growing volumes of mail that the Postal Service had to handle. In this massive undertaking, the Postal Service not only had to create a system that could apply to the entire country but also run an effective marketing campaign to win over skeptical Americans. Some critics charged that the new system was too complex, and would further bog down the Postal Service. Others alleged that it was a communist plot designed to use dehumanize the American public by reducing them to a series of numbers. Despite these objections, the Postal Service, with the help of a cartoon mascot named Mr. Zip, eventually won over the public. Do you find a Zip Code dehumanizing?
2.While some Americans worried that the Postal Service was embarking on communist plots, the Federal government worried that foreign communists were using the mail to distribute propaganda. In the Postal Service and Federal Employees Salary Act of 1962, Congress required post offices to hold any foreign communist materials, and only release them if the recipient specifically requested it. The Postal Service was once more in the spotlight as the case went to the Supreme Court. In Lamont vs. Postmaster General, the court declared that clause of the law unconstitutional as it unfairly limited the free speech rights of Americans. Were you aware of this landmark decision?
3.Despite the Postal Services' successes during World War II and the postwar years, by the 1960s, the agency was facing a number of issues: aging facilities, outdated procedures, and disgruntled customers frustrated with these inefficiencies. As the volume of mail and packages continued to grow, it seemed that the Postal Service was unable to meet the increasing demand. Things came to a head when Postal Service workers staged a wildcat strike. Underpaid and underappreciated, the workers demanded that management negotiate with them for better working conditions. Congress voted for a 41% raise in Congressional Salaries and only allowed for a 5.4% for Postal Worker salaries. Do you recall the Great Postal Strike of 1970?
4.The strike was successful. Postal workers received raises and a voice in legislative talks about how to improve the Postal Service. On August 12, 1970, after months of negotiation, the Postal Reorganization Act became law. The Postal Service was transformed into the United States Postal Service (USPS), a government corporation with a board of governors. While the goal was for the USPS to be run like a business, it was still mandated to provide efficient and effective mail services to the entire country. The law also granted postal employees collective bargaining rights, pay raises, and an improved paygrade and promotion system. Did you know that under this new structure, USPS stopped receiving government subsidies in 1982?
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