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With a multibillion dollar deficit, it appears there was little the U.S. Postal Service could do to thwart its plan to discontinue Saturday mail delivery.
The Postal Service announced last week that beginning in August, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices would remain open on Saturdays.
The cutback is expected to save the agency $2 billion annually.
Internal market research by the Postal Service evidently shows a majority of Americans support the move to five-day delivery as a way to reduce costs.
The agency reported in November an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the last budget year and forecast more red ink in 2013, capping a tumultuous year in which it was forced to default on billions in retiree health benefit prepayments to avert bankruptcy.
The Postal Service has faced declining mail delivery in recent years due to increased use of emails and other Internet services.
It appears the Postal Service had little choice in making this decision. For the past several years, it has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages.
The Postal Service repeatedly appealed to Congress to approve the move, but sadly Congress was no help, essentially turning a blind eye to the agency’s growing problems.
Though the Postal Service is an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.
Those arguing against the move such as Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said it was a horrible move and that the change “flouts the will of Congress, as expressed annually over the past 30 years in legislation that mandates six-day delivery.”
We believe Rolando is wrong.
If Congress had perhaps acted to assist the Postal Service, that might be the case, but it didn’t. Since Congress failed to act, the Postal Service seemed to have little choice but to take matters into its own hands.
Continuing the status quo of losing billions of dollars a year doesn’t seem like a viable option.
Several factors at the agency are hurting it internally. The agency’s biggest problem is mounting mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, which made up $11.1 billion of the losses.
Another issue that is costing the Postal Service a lot of money is their union contracts, which don’t allow layoffs. In the face of drastically declining mail delivery, their workforce can only be reduced by attrition.
This is costing the agency considerable money.
Overall, there will be some backlash from some about this announcement, but we believe the Postal Service is still a viable agency that made a gutsy call with a serious proposal to cut its costs.
From The Daily News, Bowling Green