Not that there was much choice, but today the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS's) Board of Governors announced it will not end Saturday mail delivery.
Earlier this year, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said he would end Saturday delivery in August. Congress last month passed government funding legislation that specifically barred the USPS from going to five-day delivery. But up until today’s announcement, the USPS hadn’t backed away from its plans.
Cutting a day of mail delivery would not save the Postal Service money, but would instead drive more business away to look for more reliable alternatives, sending the agency into a spiral toward insolvency from which it would be extremely hard to recover.
The USPS “should focus its efforts on growing the business first, rather than cutting it to the bone and hope something good happens afterward,” he says.
Postal unions have tried to work with USPS management to develop costs savings and growth measures. Just this past November, a USPS report shows that worker productivity has increased while both operational expense and the Postal Service’s deficit have dropped significantly.
The root cause of the agency’s fiscal problems is the unique congressional requirement—the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA)—that USPS prefund retirement benefits for decades into the future. Repeal of that requirement would restore financial stability to the USPS. Says Rolando:
Without this requirement to spend billions each year to pre-fund the health benefits of future retirees—something no other government agency or private enterprise must do—the USPS would actually have shown a $100 million profit in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2013.
Last month in hundreds of rallies in large cities and small towns, postal employees, other union members, community supporters and others rallied to preserve Saturday mail delivery. Read more here and view more photos here.
In related developments, the Postal Workers (APWU) have denounced plans by the USPS to accelerate the closure of 71 mail processing plants that were due to remain in operation though 2014. Says APWU President Cliff Guffey:
The Postal Service is on the brink of cutting service in a way that will permanently damage our treasured institution. This would be a tragic mistake, and it is unnecessary….Congress must act now to enact meaningful postal reform—reform that restores the Postal Service to financial stability without destroying service or harming postal workers.