Have you tried to mail something to Canada lately? If you have, you may be one of the few Americans who realized that the Canada Post was shut down for about 13 days thanks to a postal workers strike.
About 48,000 postal staff went back to work today after the Canadian Parliament passed a bill that forced them to return. After sorting through mountains of mail, delivery service is expected to start flowing again by Tuesday.
So I must confess, I didn’t realize Canada Post was on strike until this past weekend. And a quick poll of fellow news-consuming coworkers (one who once lived in Canada) also had no idea. Sure we live in Texas, and Canada isn’t always on our news radar. But even national coverage of this
nonevent was buried.
How could this happen? We Americans get a little wrapped up in what’s going on here. And there’s a lot going on to distract us: wild fires, the struggling economy, the troop draw down, “Weinergate”, the NBA playoffs and heck, Kim Kardashian just got engaged. But maybe we didn’t notice because it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Sure, the shutdown cost the Canada Post some $70 million in revenue. And small Canadian business owners were forced to take on additional costs as they were only able to ship through private delivery services.
But all of this got me thinking. If the US Postal Service went away what would I miss: Credit Card offers, coupons for $25 off a carpet steam cleaning, a birthday card from my mom, the next Netflix movie in my queue? Most crucial delivers in my life are made electronically. My paycheck is deposited into my account electronically and I pay all of my bills online. Items that I order often come via UPS or FedEx.
The USPS and Canada Post have been losing market share for years, and each has struggled to make a profit as Internet usage has increased. Here in the US the idea of eliminating Saturday delivery service is closer to becoming a reality, and both government agencies have increased postage rates recently.
Canada Post tried to cut costs by reducing wages (that’s what sparked the strike). However, by striking, Canada’s postal workers may have helped the country realize that they can go on without them. By shutting down the mail for 13 days people began finding alternatives and workarounds. The strike turned out to be an exercise for what may become the inevitable shutdown of the public postal system.
So if the US Postal Service shut down, would you notice? Or could you deal without?