Skip to main content

So I'm sure a lot of you aren't thrilled about this news either:

WASHINGTON — Faced with billions of dollars in losses, the Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it would seek to stop Saturday delivery of letters, a sweeping change in mail delivery that immediately drew criticism from postal unions, some businesses and lawmakers.

The post office said a five-day mail delivery schedule would begin in August and shave about $2 billion a year from its losses, which were $15.9 billion last year. The Postal Service would continue to deliver packages six days a week, and post offices would still be open on Saturdays. Reducing Saturday delivery is in line with mail services in several other industrialized countries like Australia, Canada and Sweden, which deliver five days a week.

“Our financial condition is urgent,” said Patrick R. Donahoe, the postmaster general, at a news conference announcing the change. “This is too big of a cost savings for us to ignore.” - New York Times, 2/6/13

Now I'm not a fan of Senator Mark Pryor (D. AR), he's one of my least favorite Democrats in the Senate but he at least made this valid point:

Last year, the Senate passed—and I supported—a bipartisan postal reform bill to put the U.S. Postal Service back on the road to financial stability. Unfortunately, the House refused to bring our bill to the floor, or offer a bill of their own. Due to the House’s inaction, the Postal Service is now facing crippling deficits.

While I agree the Postal Service needs to cut costs, their plan to end Saturday delivery cannot move forward without Congressional approval. They need to consider alternative measures, such as capping the salaries of their top executives or eliminating bonuses, before making changes that would hurt rural communities who depend on the Postal Service for commerce, news, and necessary goods. That being said, I hope the House will work with the Senate to pass a common-sense postal reform bill that will keep the USPS viable. - Political News, 2/7/13

And Pryor might be onto something here:
The move raised immediate legal questions on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers claimed that the Postal Service could not change its delivery schedules without Congressional approval. The post office has made earlier attempts to change the law, only to meet with objections or delays in Congress. Now, seizing a moment when the post office believes the law no longer applies, it moved on its own to shut down Saturday letter delivery. - New York Time, 2/6/13
House and Senate Democrats have been echoing Pryor's words:

While three top Republicans on postal oversight panels said they support the move, Representative Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said it would be illegal. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat who heads the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the agency, said it “circumvents the will of Congress” and the National Association of Letter Carriers union’s president said Donahoe should resign.

“It’s an assertion of leadership on the postmaster general’s part: ‘We’ve got to do this or we risk destroying the enterprise,’” said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Donahoe yesterday said the service plans to stop Saturday mail the week of Aug. 5, to avoid running out of cash in October as it previously projected. - Bloomberg, 2/7/13

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) isn't taking Donahue's action to stop Saturday mail delivery lightly either:

While three top Republicans on postal oversight panels said they support the move, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Donahoe “relied on flawed legal guidance” and can’t eliminate Saturday mail service without congressional approval.
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 03: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill on November 3, 2009 in Washington, DC. Reid discussed efforts to pass health care reform legislation. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
“The postmaster general’s actions have damaged his reputation with congressional leaders and further complicates congressional efforts to pass comprehensive postal reform legislation in the future,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said today in a statement. - Bloomberg Businessweek, 2/7/13
But what's Donahue's excuse for going past congress to make this decision?
He said the service decided it can ignore language, first placed in appropriations law in 1981, requiring it to deliver mail six days a week, because it receives its money from Congress differently than other U.S. agencies do. The Postal Service is supposed to support itself through postage sales and other services while Congress provides less than 0.1 percent of the postal budget. - Bloomberg, 2/7/13
Postal unions have been arguing against Donahue's actions.  Cutting Saturday delivery service would eliminate 22,500 jobs.  So what action will be taken?
The Postal Regulatory Commission, the service’s regulator, may review the change, Chairman Ruth Goldway said in an interview yesterday.

Goldway, in a 2011 interview, said the revenue lost from cutting Saturday delivery wouldn’t be worth the savings. A commission review that year estimated cutting Saturday delivery would save $1.7 billion a year, not the $3.1 billion the Postal Service estimated at the time.

Congress has limited leverage against Donahoe’s move because the Postal Service largely funds itself, Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a policy research organization in Washington, said in an interview. Lawmakers probably won’t succeed if they ask a court to bar it, he said.

“It sure seems to me the fiduciary duty of the Postal Service is to protect its financial viability,” Ornstein said. - Bloomberg Businessweek, 2/7/13

Saturday package delivery will still continue and business like EBay and Amazon won't be hurt by this decision.  Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc., thinks this decision will actually help companies like Amazon and EBay:
“I think this could actually increase the opportunity for EBay and Amazon to expand their same-day delivery pilots,” Luria said in an e-mail.

Magazine publishers may have to close work on magazines earlier to get them to subscribers before the end of the week, which could increase costs, said Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs for the Direct Marketing Association, based in New York.

“We’ve been anticipating these changes for a while and we will make adjustments in our operations to minimize the impact to our customers,” said Teri Everett, a spokeswoman for Time Inc., the largest U.S. magazine publisher. “Our all-access and digital subscribers can already get our magazine content on tablets as early as Thursday.” - Bloomberg Buisnesswekk, 2/7/13

I understand we live in a digital age where print journalism is a dying brand but still, I for one feel we need to keep Saturday mail delivery services open.  Especially if you're living pay check to pay check and can't afford to wait until after the weekend.  I'm not sure what the next step is in preventing this from happen.  I understand if the postal service needs to find ways to cut costs to make it more solvent but ending mail delivery services on Saturdays just isn't a bright idea.

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 04:42 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  All my paychecks come by mail (11+ / 0-)

    And as a freelance editor, I find they can be unpredictably late, so I'm often in the situation of anxiously checking my mailbox for the awaited check. So this is not a good development for me, if it occurs, and even more so on three-day weekends. Other than that, though, I don't get much mail anymore that I care about, other than birthday or Christmas cards or the occasional note from my grandmother.

    This is a great diary and I hope it gets on the Rec List. You did a really good job at finding and putting together all the pieces!

  •  The USPS should stop Saturday delivery this week. (9+ / 0-)

    The fact that Congress doesn't want them to stop Saturday delivery is all the more reason to do it, and do it now.  Congress is responsible for the USPS's problems and if they want Saturday mail delivery, not to mention the other five days, they should eliminate the punitive mandate about pensions that is the sole source of the USPS's deficits.  Why should the USPS only play hardball on Seinfeld?

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:33:46 PM PST

    •  Felix Salmon (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, reflectionsv37, Rich in PA

      The Post Office gets tough with Congress

      In this case, however, the roles are reversed: the Post Office wants to change, and it’s Congress which is stopping it from doing so.

      The latest move from the Post Office is a bold one: to abolish Saturday delivery unilaterally, starting August 1. This is a bit like Citicorp announcing that it was merging with Travelers: it’s illegal, but that’s not going to stop them, and the clear expectation is that somehow Congress will make it legal, before or shortly after it happens in reality.

      As Jesse Lichtenstein details in his amazing 10,000-word Esquire story about the Post Office, the organization does actually have a detailed plan for becoming fully self-reliant over the next few years. Abolishing Saturday delivery is just one small part of that plan; all of it, by law, requires Congressional buy-in. The plan may or may not be successful, but, as they say, plan beats no plan. The big problem is simple, but huge: Congress isn’t playing along, and instead is just making matters worse, unhelpfully micromanaging everything from postage rates to delivery schedules to health-care contributions.

      That’s why I love the idea of the Post Office doing something that’s clearly illegal, putting the ball squarely in Congress’s court. The idea is both delicious and dangerous: go ahead an implement the plan whether Congress likes it or not. And then dare them to bring down the hammer, or simply capitulate to the inevitable. They might not like the latter option, but the former would surely be worse for all concerned.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 07:39:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Totally agree with you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rich in PA, NonnyO

      It's as if congress wants the postal service to fail. I just don't understand the foot dragging on this. They know the postal service is in a bad situation and rather than do something about they seem to be trying to make it worse.

      Although I'm opposed to ending Saturday delivery, Donahue is a least attempting to do something to help the situation and now members of congress come forward to try and stop him.

      Wholeheartedly agree that the problem is the pension funding. What the hell is wrong with the people we elect to congress?

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 08:49:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd go further (4+ / 0-)

        I'd go further. It's not "as if" they want the USPS to fail. There is a whole political party dedicated to the idea that government sucks, so that people are "tricked" into relying on the government for anything. In order to make sure that the government sucks they have to destroy anything that works well and people rely on, so that they are forced to use private industry. The fact that the USPS is in the Constitution, and provides a fundamental service to all Americans, isn't important to them. Destroying our government and forcing people to rely on profit-generating corporations (run by their friends) is.

        So the USPS, which is actually profitable, is forced to pay for completely imaginary 'costs' such as pre-paying for 75 years of employee benefits. And the USPS isn't allowed to change their rates to reflect costs, or add services to do more of what people want, or cut services that people don't need any more. All absurd limitations imposed on the USPS by politicians in Congress who need the USPS to fail to validate their fanatical ideology.

        •  You took the words... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... right out of my brain.

          What happened to the "pre-paid employee benefits" fund?  After benefits are paid out, why isn't the remainder sitting there drawing interest?

          Did they turn that money over to Casino Wall Street?

          [And our president and Congress Critters want to turn our Social Security over to Casino Wall Street...?!?!?]

          We need a whole lot of transparent accounting from USPS!

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:50:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  But they do want USPS to fail (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Debbie in ME, reflectionsv37

        That way they can turn it all over to private corporations, just like they did with two illegal and unconstitutional wars and with our health insurance and health care.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
        -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

        Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.
        -- Benito Mussolini

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:46:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good Move -- for UPS (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda1961, bear83, JGibson

    Dropping Saturday delivery erodes one of the few remaining advantages the Post Office has over its private-sector competitors UPS and Fedex who do not regularly deliver on Saturday. This will likely shift even more business away from the Post Office, thus necessitating further cuts, and on and on it goes.

    It is sad to watch the Post Office's Death Spiral, especially when you know the biggest wet dream of conservatives is to eliminate any moderately successful government programs like Social Security or the Post Office because, you know, the private sector is just "better".

    A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

    by edg on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:34:36 PM PST

  •  even better (12+ / 0-)

    end the pension prepayment requirement.
    That's the big money-loser. And it is something only Congress can do.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:36:33 PM PST

  •  notice that pryor is not talking about funding (11+ / 0-)

    the postal service adequately, or ending the idiotic pension prepayment burden the GOP put on it in 2006, that is at the root of its financial troubles. just about demanding austerity without a drop in service.

    •  THe USPS is self-sufficient. We have not had any.. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marvyt, Lujane, PrahaPartizan, NonnyO

      ...public money since the early 80's. Everything the Post Office makes is self-generated.

      Congress does NOT fund the USPS.

      "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

      by CanisMaximus on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:33:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But they take (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        a whole lot.

        Several million dollars a year some times.

        I will never forget when we hit the black during the regan adminstration made 5 million. Ronnie demanded 8 for the general fund and then told the world we were a total failure because we lost 3 million.

        I would say it was all the repubs but Bill Clinton did the same thing.

        Strip it down to what its for, moving mail. Get rid of the all those middle managers that do next to nothing in those big office buildings.

        Why pray tell are they handing out bonuses? This is a quasi government operation that is currently losing money.

        Cut the salary of the Post Master general. This is not wall street maybe he will quit ad we ca employ someoe who actually understands the work of the company he is running.

        It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

        by PSWaterspirit on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:16:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  they should, IMO (0+ / 0-)

        basic public infrastructure is well worth investing in. self-sufficiency is part of the whole "run it like a business" BS that has been the first step towards austerity and privatization, in every sector of the government the right has gotten its teeth into.

    •  They are purposefully trying to kill it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming

      Everything that the government does for We the People, that works well, they want to end. It doesn't make any sense.

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 08:53:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mail delivery is not cost-efficient. (0+ / 0-)

    Let the mail pile up, then sell it for fuel.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:50:35 PM PST

  •  Congress at fault (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, fabucat, reflectionsv37

       Congress has demanded that the USPS support itself but they still want to micro-manage the services. If Sen Reid wants Saturday mail delivery, the Senate and House should pony up with the money to keep that practice going.  

  •  thank you! (0+ / 0-)

    I don't care who's standing up for the USPS!  Tea Party S. Dakota Congressmember Christi Noem is on our side too.   I wrote a note thanking her!

  •  Wait.... What?!? (0+ / 0-)
    They need to consider alternative measures, such as capping the salaries of their top executives or eliminating bonuses, before making changes that would hurt rural communities who depend on the Postal Service for commerce, news, and necessary goods.
    I know the USPS cut some sort of deal years ago to go at least semi-private..., but just exactly how are they governed, what is the chain of command, and how & why has their retirement money disappeared?

    Did the tax dollars granted to them go to Casino Wall Street?  Is that how their money disappeared?

    What executives?  Like corporate executives?  How much money are they talking about?

    Bonuses....  Bonuses?!?  If they're still at least quasi-public servants, then there should be no such thing as "bonuses."

    Someone needs to so some 'splainin.'

    I realize they aren't taking in as much money since email became the (mostly) preferred method of communication, but their money has certainly been mismanaged..., especially if they're going to do so much advertising it loses them money..., or do stupid things like sponsor jockeys like Lance Armstrong.  How many millions did that scammer Armstrong get for wearing a shirt with the USPS logo on it?  [That was when I got my first computer and the USPS sponsoring Armstrong is what made me decide not to spend as much money with the USPS if I could avoid it.]

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:31:57 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site