One of the ways the Post Office hopes to fix the myriad of problems it faces is by using more contingent workers, which the Post Office calls "noncareer flexible" workers.
Key quote from U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe:
... we implemented big changes in our labor pool. Twenty percent of all our employees today are 'noncareer flexibles' [part-time], up from about 8% two years ago. We've saved billions of dollars there.
The WSJ added the "[part-time]" to better explain what "noncareer flexibles" are, but the Post Office includes full-time contingents in this category.
They also plan to continue to expand their use of contingents. According to a labor report written by the Post Office in 2011, they are looking to grow their contingent workforce to 30% of their total workforce by 2015.
The driver behind this is labor costs are 80% of the postal service's total costs. At UPS labor costs are 53% of total costs and at Fed Ex they are 32% of total costs. Needless to say, the Postal Service has to cut labor costs to survive.
Normally I'm not a big fan of using contingent labor if the only goal is to cut costs. Using contingents to improve business flexibility and agility are much better reasons. But I'm willing to look the other way in this case because let's face it, the Post Office is a financial basket case.
In terms of what the Post Service might look like in the future, the Postmaster General said:
The postal model of the future is mail delivery Monday to Friday, package delivery seven days a week in ZIP codes that can support Sunday, and Saturday operations for retail so that you can go to the post office and mail something.
Sounds pretty good. Let's hope they get there.