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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Postal Service to Stop Delivering on Saturdays

Posted by on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Even though they don't have any right to do this, the United States Postal Service has announced that they'll stop delivering letter mail on Saturdays. Package service will continue. (Congress is supposed to approve all these delivery changes, but somehow the USPS believes they can make it work without Congress this time around.) Before anyone gets all "nobody-needs-mail-anymore" in the comments, I would like to highlight this passage from the Huffington Post story, which explains why this service cut is a response to a completely manufactured problem:

The agency's biggest problem – and the majority of the red ink in 2012 – was not due to reduced mail flow but rather to mounting mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, which made up $11.1 billion of the losses. Without that and other related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion, lower than the previous year.

The health payments are a requirement imposed by Congress in 2006 that the post office set aside $55 billion in an account to cover future medical costs for retirees. The idea was to put $5.5 billion a year into the account for 10 years. That's $5.5 billion the post office doesn't have.

No other government agency is required to make such a payment for future medical benefits. Postal authorities wanted Congress to address the issue last year, but lawmakers finished their session without getting it done. So officials are moving ahead to accelerate their own plan for cost-cutting.

Dropping Saturday service is a big mistake that will make the USPS seem more irrelevant than it is. This is a bad move down the wrong path. (Unless this is all some sort of a poker-faced political maneuver to force Congress into dropping the future health benefit requirement, in which case it's maybe a genius move. But I wouldn't bet on that.)


Comments (24) RSS

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rob! 1
If they're going to bypass Congressional approval, they should also stop delivering to congressmen, and refuse the franking privilege, until Congress dissolves their bogus poison-pill funding mandate.
Posted by rob! on February 6, 2013 at 8:25 AM · Report this
...and somewhere UPS and FedEx executives are jumping for joy. Soon, their master plan to eliminate the USPS (and, in essence, price structuring) is a go.
Posted by I'm OK, You're OK on February 6, 2013 at 8:25 AM · Report this
lark 3
I don't think this is surprising or a bad idea at all. With email, at one time the USPS wanted (wants?) to charge for it and secure online bill payments, the USPS is getting heavy competition. Their revenue is diminishing. Sure, this health benefit problem might be the real reason. But, it's merely attempting to overcome their their huge budget deficit.
Posted by lark on February 6, 2013 at 8:30 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 4
@2 Don't forget about picking over the USPS's massive physical assets, at cut rate prices. That's what this has been all about, much like the charter school scam. Poison the public institutions to the point of failure, then privatize the land, buildings & equipment that were paid for by the public.
Posted by Sir Vic on February 6, 2013 at 8:42 AM · Report this
You say the USPS can't do this without Congress's approval, but then say that the real problem is congressional mismanagement. Maybe the USPS should start exercising some autonomy from Congress for once?
Posted by Mr John on February 6, 2013 at 8:43 AM · Report this
I agree that the USPS's fiscal crisis is due to the burdensome regulations put into place by congress, but I completely disagree that, "Dropping Saturday service is a big mistake that will make the USPS seem more irrelevant than it is."

This is a totally logical step. Mail carriers work 5 days a week. By eliminating a sixth day of mail, they greatly simplify their employment needs. It's just simple math.
Posted by I Got Nuthin' on February 6, 2013 at 8:52 AM · Report this
fletc3her 7
I don't have a big problem with losing Saturday delivery, but I do wish that we'd start using assets like the postal service for more general government services rather than gutting them.

Expand services like issuing passports and money orders rather than contracting. I'd envision a local ombudsman who can help people interact with the federal government.
Posted by fletc3her on February 6, 2013 at 8:57 AM · Report this
This makes me sad.
Posted by gloomy gus on February 6, 2013 at 8:58 AM · Report this
bgk 9
USPS is a core service of the Government. I would be sad to see them go.
Posted by bgk on February 6, 2013 at 9:02 AM · Report this
thatsnotright 10
Citizen outrage over loss of service may be what it takes to get Congress to move on working out equitable funding strategies for the USPS. Stopping deliveries on Saturdays seems to be a smart move if they are trying to garner attention. Let's face it most people think of the USPS as a benevolent American institution.
Posted by thatsnotright on February 6, 2013 at 9:14 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 11
For all you people who claim to not care if the USPS goes kaput, keep in mind that without the cheap third option, UPS and FedEx are going to go price-fix crazy, now that there are no other options, and not other option will likely emerge.

Also, people in rural areas will no longer have any way to get things delivered to them. Part of the USPS's budget problems is that they will take financial losses to deliver mail anywhere. UPS and FedEx will not do that.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on February 6, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Kinison 12
They just need to keep Saturday delivery, but close down all the offices. You can ship USPS via Fed Ex or UPS centers, they are open longer. If that doesnt work for you, just buy or rent a Pitney Bows machine.
Posted by Kinison on February 6, 2013 at 9:21 AM · Report this
and the privatization of natural monopolies goes on (meanwhile Charles tells us neoliberalism is dead).
Posted by anon1256 on February 6, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Report this
brandon 14
@11 They aren't talking about cutting USPS completely (yet anyway), just Saturday letter delivery. People in Podunk will still get their Safeway and Credit Card ads, just on Monday rather than Saturday. Their packages from mom are not affected at all.

If they were smart they would use the resources from winding down USPS and shore up internet coverage and provide a guaranteed network infrastructure. People may loose mail, but it would allow even the poor and rural a communication avenue.
Posted by brandon on February 6, 2013 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 15
What @11 said.

Republican's ultimate goal is to eliminate the USPS and give it all to private FedEx and UPS.

Once the post office is gone, it'll never come back.

And I absofuckinglutely guarantee this: Rural podunks who will be the most negatively affected by this will blame the democrats. No reason. No logic. Their conservative masters will tell them who to blame and they'll swallow what they're given.

Whatever. Fuck this country.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on February 6, 2013 at 9:41 AM · Report this
Demetria 16
A side benefit of weekday-only mail delivery will be you can go away for the weekend with no fear that a love letter or valuable statement has arrived and a pile of junk mail is showing you're not home.
Posted by Demetria on February 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 17
its the only way they have to draw attention to the knife in the back they got from the GOP in 2006. medic, over here!

obama, where is the pressure on the trolls in congress? where is the soaring rhetoric? take a fucking 5 hour energy and bring it to the public's attention.
Posted by Max Solomon on February 6, 2013 at 10:08 AM · Report this
Even in the text you quote, it says that without the pension bullshit imposed by Congress, they'd still be $2.4 billion in the hole. Cutting Saturday letter service saves that amount. Sure, it's not great but it's probably the least bad option. UPS and Fedex don't even deliver on Saturday except with substantial surcharges.
Posted by decidedlyodd on February 6, 2013 at 10:59 AM · Report this
the post office is in the constitution ,that is ahead of the ammendments (2nd). where is the outrage?
Posted by neoanderthal on February 6, 2013 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 20
@14: I know no one is suggesting the ax yet, but there is a lot of sentiment that the post office has no purpose now that people do not send letters. Which always makes me think, how do they think they get most things they order off the internet?

But believe me, no one supports the idea of state/federal governments setting up state/nationwide internet access for all. We need to start dragging this nation into the 21st century. If people knew how good internet speed, price and coverage is in other developed countries, they would demand it here. But I do recognize the difficulty of such an endeavor in a huge country like ours with such low density. Things like this are simply easier in Japan and Norway.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on February 6, 2013 at 11:19 AM · Report this
Those who suggest that it's no big deal to eliminate the sixth weekday delivery should stop and think about the carriers' schedules. They work a five day week. The sixth day is staggered for another carrier to cover the routes. Eliminating Saturday delivery thus triggers a 16% reduction in the workforce. And what is the big problem in the country right now? Stagnant employment. So we're happy to throw a sixth of the mail carriers into a bad job market?
Posted by Calpete on February 6, 2013 at 11:44 AM · Report this
T 22
What @6 said. I couldn't care less if I don't get mail on Saturday, and that includes packages. As somebody else mentioned, UPS and FedEx don't deliver Saturdays either. Cut one day of service, you cut your mail carrier and post office staffing needs by 17%, which has the effect of reducing your pension/benefits needs too. It may not completely close that gap, but it'd be a pretty good start.
Posted by T on February 6, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
JonnoN 23
UPS and FedEx totally deliver on saturdays
Posted by JonnoN on February 6, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 24
Delivering packages on Saturdays sounds a losing proposition for the USPS - except during the holiday season, of course.

I can't remember the last time I ordered ANYTHING that was sent via the post office. So they'll have some poor sap covering ten normal routes driving all over tarnation with all of a couple dozen packages in the back.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 6, 2013 at 8:29 PM · Report this

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