US postal unions today called for Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to step down, ahead of an expected announcement that the US Postal Service will scrap Saturday mail deliveries.
Cash-strapped USPS currently has legal requirements to collect mail six days per week, but wants to move to five days per week to save as much as $2bn a year.
Last year as it recorded a $16bn loss, the Postal Service failed to get lawmakers in Washington to support its proposals to end weekend delivery for mail other than package deliveries.
Today, the Postal Service called a press conference in order to lay out accelerated moves to cut costs in the light of last year’s failure by Congress to pass postal reforms. Measures being announced are expected to include the delivery frequency change to take effect in August, which would maintain Saturday delivery for packages.
The National Association of Letter Carriers said today that Donahoe should step down if he had no other way to save money than a “misguided” plan to cut service.
It said reducing delivery frequency would effectively “doom USPS to failure”.
The union said ending Saturday delivery would have a “profoundly negative effect” on the millions of USPS customers – particularly small businesses, the elderly and those in rural communities who depended on it for communication and commerce.
USPS issued a request for information last month seeking help on developing new delivery systems assuming that it will move to five-day-a-week delivery.
The Postal Service document suggested that the Postal Service could implement the delivery frequency change within just 90 days. However, it is as yet unclear how the Postal Service will get the powers to move to five-day delivery. Mounting financial losses may force the issue in Congress this year.
NALC president Frederic Rolando said US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe should step down if he could not come up with a growth strategy avoiding the end of Saturday delivery
NALC president Frederic Rolando said the USPS plan “flouts the will of Congress”, and accused Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe of arrogance in his “slash and shrink” approach to the financial problems at the Postal Service.
“Slowing mail service and degrading our unmatchable last-mile delivery network are not the answers to the Postal Service’s financial problems,” said Rolando. “If the Postmaster General is unwilling or unable to develop a smart growth strategy that serves the nearly 50% of business mailers that want to keep six-day service, and if he arrogantly thinks he is above the law or has the right to decide policy matters that should be left to Congress, it is time for him to step down.”
NALC, which represents about 200,000 city-based letter carriers, insisted that it has tried “time and again” to work with USPS management to pursue growth measures and cost savings.
“It has become clear that the Postal Service leadership’s only strategy is to gut the unique postal network that provides us with the world’s most affordable delivery service, and to eliminate the services on which Americans depend,” said Rolando.
The postal reform process must begin again from scratch since a new session of Congress began last month.
The US Senate is kicking things off with a hearing next Wednesday (13th February) of the Committee of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, looking at “solutions to the crisis facing the US Postal Service”.
The president of the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, Jeanette P Dwyer, who is planning to testify before the Senate Committee next week, said today that the USPS plan to end Saturday deliveries was a “death knell” for a quality service.
“To erode this service will undermine the Postal Service’s core mission and is completely unacceptable,” she said.
“Saturday mail delivery is an important communication and marketing tool used by millions of citizens and mailers across the country, especially in rural areas that lack broadband Internet access. Many customers rely on the Postal Service to deliver prescription medications, social security checks, and financial statements. Many other citizens and businesses rely on Saturday for the collection of outgoing invoices and materials.”
Dwyer said she would emphasize the need to save six-day delivery to US Senators next week, and blamed much of the USPS losses on the Congressional mandate to prefund future retiree health benefits.
“While no other federal agency or business is burdened by such an extreme pre-funding requirement, the Postal Service is shackled and left to fail. Congress must act immediately to rectify this situation, or else risk harming many businesses and individuals and eliminating millions of jobs across the country,” she said.