Star routes


Star routes

Star routes is a term used in connection with the United States postal service and the contracting of mail delivery services. The term is defunct as of 1970, but still is occasionally used to refer to "Highway Contract Routes" or (HCRs) which replaced the Star routes. [National Postal Museum http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/starroute/sr_02.html "What is a Star Route?". - Retrieved: May 8, 2007.]

Background

Prior to 1845, preference on contracts for the transportation of inland mail, other than by railroad or steamboat routes, was given to bidders who offered stage or coach service.

This was abolished by act of Congress on March 3, 1845, which provided that the postmaster-general should lease all such contracts to the lowest bidder which tendered sufficient guarantee for faithful performance, without any condition except to provide for due celerity, certainty and security of transportation. These bids for such service became classified as "celerity, certainty and security bids", and for brevity were designated on the route registers by three stars (***) and known as star routes. [National Postal Museum http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/starroute/sr_02.html "What is a Star Route?". - Retrieved: May 8, 2007.]

tar Route Frauds

The "Star Route Frauds" scandal involved a lucrative nineteenth century scheme whereby United States postal officials received bribes in exchange for awarding postal delivery contracts in southern and western areas.

An investigation into the Star Routes corruption began under President James A. Garfield in 1881. Among the major players involved were some of the large contractors, the Second Assistant Postmaster-General, some of the subordinates in the department, and Arkansas Senator Stephen W. Dorsey, who became Secretary of the Republican National Committee during James A. Garfield's 1880 presidential campaign. After Garfield's death by assassination, President Chester Alan Arthur pursued the investigation.

Although the fraudulent scheme was widespread, there were few convictions. Many of the defendants in the Star Routes trials were successfully defended by noted lawyer and orator, Robert Ingersoll. [Ingersoll, Robert. http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/star_route_trials/second_opening.html "Opening remarks to the jury in the second Star Routes trial" Dec. 21, 1882. - Retrieved: May 8, 2007.] Public disgust over the Star Routes graft served as an impetus for civil service reform and the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act in 1883.

Modern usage

Star Routes, now known as Highway Contract Routes (or HCRs) as of 1970, have become a controversial mode of delivering mail directly to customers. Historically, Highway Contract Routes were used rarely for mail delivery to households. An exception was in rural areas with less than one customer per mile.

In modern usage, HCRs can be used any place to deliver mail directly to customers. They are often used to deliver mail in growth areas such as new housing tracts. Some of these routes are being started in areas where there are as few as twenty deliveries per day.

Since 2000, the US Postal Service has added the term "Contract Delivery Service" (CDS) as their newest version of the Star Route. These routes are specifically set up to serve newly created urban communities. CDS carriers do not transport mail, and are being used in an attempt to find delivery drivers who will work for less than USPS carrier wages. As of 2007, several thousand of these CDS routes have been created, with plans for far more.

Both the CDS routes and the expanded HCR routes have had problems with delivery quality. Many contractors are no longer individuals wanting to transport mail between post offices, or to deliver mail in a remote community where they live. This new concentration of more urban contract routes has made it practical for businesses to bid on multiple contracts, and then seek out workers who will carry those routes for less money than the US Postal Service pays on each contract. As a result, many contract route customers have complained about a revolving door of carriers and very poor service. The US Postal Service is still attempting to find an equilibrium between the dependability of career postal carriers and the cost savings of contractors acting as a temp agency.

There is some debate as to how much control the Postal Service can exercise over these contract routes and have them remain contractors. Exactly where the line is that will mark the difference between an HCR being a contractor and an employee is not clear. [Wickwire Gavin Attornies. http://www.wickwire.com/lawyer-attorney-1095553.html "You Think You’re a Postal Contractor – But Maybe You’re an Employee!" October 2005. - Retrieved: May 8, 2007]

References

External links

* [http://www.postalemployeenetwork.com/contracting-mail-delivery.htm Postal Worker's Union articles on postal service contracting]


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