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Tags: US | Postal | Cuts

Postal Service to Cut Saturday Mail to Trim Costs

By    |   Wednesday, 06 February 2013 08:17 AM EST

After months of debate, the U.S. Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it plans to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail. 

Patrick Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, said at a press conference that the move is "absolutely necessary" as part of a broader effort to stabilize the service's troubled finances.

The agency suffered an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the fiscal year which ended Sept. 30.

"Making this change to our delivery schedule is a big-ticket item," said Donahoe. "It would be irresponsible for the Postal Service not to pursue this course."

The plan is set to save about $2 billion a year and will take effect in August.

The USPS will continue to deliver packages, mail-order medicine and express mail six days a week, but not letters, bills, cards and catalogs.

The agency has been hit hard by the rising use of email and social media, and with the growing costs of providing health benefits to its workers. 

The USPS is an independent agency and does not get taxpayers’ money, but it is subject to congressional control. 

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Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the two top Republicans on the House and Senate committees that oversee the Postal Service wrote to Congressional leaders Wednesday asking them to support the USPS plan and change the law that has stopped the agency from taking this action already.

The letter reads, “What has impeded the Postal Service from phasing out universal Saturday delivery of letters is an appropriations rider carried in law since 1984 that ties six-day mail delivery to the acceptance of roughly $100 million in reimbursement from the federal government for services rendered by the Postal Service.”

It continues, “According to Postal Service estimates, the rider constitutes more than $2.5 billion annual unfunded mandate. With the current fiscal year 2013 government funding resolution set to expire at the end of March, we ask that the six-day mail rider be omitted from any subsequent government funding legislation, enabling the Postal Service to implement this necessary reform without impediment.”

Coburn and Issa also point out that “This change has bipartisan support. President Obama has repeatedly called for moving to five-day delivery of mail, most recently in his RY2013 budget. Furthermore, according to an October 2011 Quinnipiac poll, fully 79 percent of Americans endorse the shift.”

One group that clearly opposes the plan: The National Association of Letter Carriers, a union representing mail carriers. In a statement, union president Fredric Rolando called the five-day plan “a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers.”

‘It would be particularly harmful to small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication,” Rolando added.

The union called for postmaster general Donohoe’s “immediate removal.”

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The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion, the financially struggling agency says. In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected...
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 08:17 AM
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