The United States Postal Service won’t be cutting Saturday mail for the time being. Its board announced that the agency doesn’t have the legal authority to end Saturday mail delivery without authorization from Congress and must stop plans to take that step. This follows a Government Accountability Office opinion in March stating that the Postal Service didn’t have the authority to stop Saturday deliveries.
Last month, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced that the Postal Service would reduce delivery to a five-day-per-week schedule in order to cut $2 billion from its deficit ($15.2 billion last year). The United States would’ve joined nations like Australia, Sweden and Canada in delivering mail only five days a week.
National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando expressed relief of the development in a statement, but he remained unsatisfied with the overall approach of the Postal Service.
“NALC is gratified that the Board of Governors has seen the light on the law–but it is time for them to reconsider their entire ‘shrink to survive’ strategy,” said Rolando. “Degrading the Postal Service’s last-mile network is a losing strategy. Eliminating Saturday service, which more than a third of all business mailers want to keep, will drive millions of customers away and do more harm than good.
“The Postal Service needs a growth strategy, and Congress must enact comprehensive reform that overhauls the USPS governance structure, provides greater pricing and product flexibility and reduces or eliminates the crushing pre-funding burden that has caused more than 90 percent of this year’s financial losses so far,” continued Rolando.
Last month, American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey said that the Postal Service’s current shortfall is a result of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006 that forces the Postal Service to pre-fund health care benefits for future retirees and to do so in a 10-year period–something no other public entity has to do. The bill was spearheaded by former Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan.
Under the PAEA, the Postal Service has to pre-pay close to $5.5 billion annually, but they’re prohibited under the same bill from raising postage rates to cover the cost.
Sally Davidow, a spokeswoman for the APWU, said in an interview with the publication AdAge that the union has sacrificed enough and the Postal Service needs to find another source of cutting costs outside of renegotiating union contracts.
“The Postal Service saved $3.8 billion on account of compromises that the APWU made during negotiations,” said Davidow. “APWU members have done their part.”