The U.S. Postal Service has an odd way of keeping postal jobs from being eliminated: It opposes a junk mail ban.

San Francisco Supervisors on Monday held a hearing on a non-binding measure that would urge the California legislature to create a sort of "Do Not Mail" program akin to the national "Do Not Call" program.

The USPS, which has its own problems with proposed job cuts, less people using its service and a call to cut Saturday delivery, opposes the junk mail ban because it could lead to its workers losing jobs. After all, if there's less mail to deliver, fewer mail carriers would be needed.

Given that some 40% of mail goes unopened, it seems like a Don Quixote type of move and waste of time to oppose delivering something that either ends up in the trash or recycling bin without being looked at. The average household receives more than 800 pieces of junk mail per year, with junk mail totaling 30% of the world's snail mail.

"I see massive layoffs, homes lost," if junk mail is banned, 28-year postal worker Derrick Lomax is quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as saying. "We value choice and openness in San Francisco...I don't want to be the greenest person in the unemployment line."

Lomax was joined by other postal workers and representatives from the direct mail and printing industries to speak out against the resolution. They cited the bad economy and the fact that people can already opt out of mailing lists, a process that the supervisor who sponsored the bill said is onerous and ineffective.

Junk mail volume is heading downward, according to a Chronicle editorial. Volume dropped from 104 billion pieces in 2007 to 99 billion in 2008.

If you're not a mail carrier worried about losing you're job, here are some Web sites that can help cut down on unwanted mail:

  1. dmachoice.org is run by the Direct Marketing Association.
  2. catalogchoice.org targets unwanted catalogs.
  3. MailStopper.tonic.com will take your name off industry lists for $25.
  4. 41pounds.org charges $41 to help remove the 41 pounds of junk mail the average adult receives each year.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net


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