Amazon, booze and benefit cuts: How Patrick Donahoe tried to remake the struggling U.S. Postal Service
When Patrick Donahoe began his job as an afternoon shift postal clerk at a Pittsburgh post office in 1975, the mail was still sorted by hand. Packages weren’t much of a priority. And email, let alone online shopping, were decades away.
“It was a dusty, dreary old place,” Donahoe says. Yet he stuck it out for nearly 40 years, rising to become postmaster general of the institution he joined as a 20-year-old student at the University of Pittsburgh making $4.76 an hour in pocket money. On Friday, Donahoe announced the end of that run. He’ll retire on Feb. 1, 2015 after four transformative and tumultuous years running the USPS.
Donahoe’s modernization efforts have had plenty of critics, many of whom have accused him of attempting to dismantle an American institution while eroding its services. Many small towns have bristled at the thought of their local post office closing. Postal unions have protested against closures of distribution plants. And what looked like cost savings to Donahoe struck many as reducing customer service to the lowest possible level at a place where it was already in short supply. Just ask anyone who’s stood in line at their own post office.
“I think Congress has been irresponsible,” Donahoe says, adding that he believes the Carper-Coburn bill is a reasonable way of fixing the postal service’s problems.