Jobs in logistics have been an indispensable method in airmail delivery. Airmail began a few years after the Wright Brothers inaugurated the age of aviation at the beginning of the twentieth century. The first regular airmail flight was established between New York and Washington, D.C in 1918. Among the pioneer pilots who flew the post office was Charles A. Lindbergh, famous for his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. There have been many individual heroes in U.S. postal history. One is Chester Noongwook, an Eskimo, who until 1963 delivered mail on the remote Saint Lawrence Island, in the Bering Sea, 120 miles west of the Alaskan mainland. His route was 120 miles, round trip, and his transportation was a dogsled. Noongwook’s Alaskan huskies have surrendered to progress and now the route is serviced by airplane. As the volume of mail skyrocketed during the early 1960s, the postal service was faced with the problem of handling the new load without a corresponding increase in staffing. It was apparent that hiring more clerks, supervisors, carriers, drivers, and other personnel would not permanently solve the problem. In addition, a large increase in post office employment would have created a problem with the postal budget, which was already running a deficit. It was also obvious that more mechanization was not the entire answer.
Transportation logistics became easier and more efficient when a breakthrough of a zip system came up. Zip code (Zoning Improvement Plan) is really the second generation of the zone numbers that were first used in the 1940s. It assigns a five-digit number to every postal address in the country. The first three digits identify the city of the nearest installation located at the junction of air, highway, and rail transportation. There are more than 500 of these sectional centers across the country. The last two digits identify the post office or delivery station, just as the old zone number did.
Logistic employment plus the application of the zip code system, mail could be sent from the sectional center nearest the point of origin directly to the sectional center nearest its destination. From there it would be dispatched to its ultimate delivery point. Mail processed in bulk according to zip code often bypassed the post office in the city of origin and headed for the nearest transportation center.
Postal customer councils have been created to encourage major users of mail, such as businesses and government agencies to deposit their mail early and to cooperate with the postal service in the handling of mail. Before these councils were established, a huge glut of mail piled up in all large post offices at the end of the work day. Most large-volume mailers save their mail for only one deposit and with a smoother flow of mail throughout the day, postmasters were able to reschedule some personnel from night to day shifts. Expensive machines that had been left idle in some post offices for as much as eighteen hours a day, waiting for the peak loads, could now be used more efficiently. There is continued discussion in Congress of making the United States Postal Service a private enterprise. Discussions range from breaking up the divisions of mail (first, second, and third class) into different companies to selling the entire enterprise intact. However, the public’s resistance to a private post office has restricted any major change in the post office. The biggest division to have competition from private delivery companies is the overnight and package delivery business.
Like warehouse logistics jobs, the giant workrooms in the post offices and private delivery companies are busy centers of activity. At all hours of the day and night, an endless flow of mail moves from unloading platforms through the workrooms, the mail goes through a series of separations in which it is sorted according to type of mail and its destination. Part-time employees make up large percentage of the sorting staff because the time required for the rush period of package movement is less than the standard eight hour a day. For both the government postal service and the private companies, the sorting room is often the beginning for people who make a career of letter and package delivery. Working in the sorting room is an ideal way to learn how the office works and work experience in this area aids in the advancement in the logistical mailing company.
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