This week, as Digital Journalist Yukio Strachan reported
, the U.S. Post Office
announced that it planned "to end Saturday mail delivery in an effort to trim costs at the cash strapped agency."
Central to the plan is that the U.S. Post Office (USPS) will begin a five days per week service from August 2013. According to the New York Times
, the alteration to deliveries will save an estimated $2 billion a year from the USPS's losses, which were $15.9 billion for 2012. The U.S. Post Office has also reached its $15 billion borrowing limit
with the Treasury.
The plan to reduce the delivery aspect of the service followed a previous announcement
to increase price of a first-class stamp to 46 cents.
Now that the proposal, made on February 6 2013, has had time to sink in opposition has been expressed from different stakeholders.
One expression of concern has come from Capitol Hill, where some politicians have stated that the Postal Service cannot change its delivery schedules without Congressional approval. This is based on a 1981 act (the annual appropriations bill giving federal agencies spending authority), which required the USPS to deliver mail across the U.S. on Saturdays and also due to the main funding to the Post Office, which is drawn from general taxation.
The main voice of opposition has come from Representative José E. Serrano, Democrat of New York and ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government (his argument is captured in his Twitter feed
A similar view, from the other main political party, was expressed by Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine, who opined
that the decision “is inconsistent with current law and threatens to further jeopardize its customer base”.
Little has been heard from the White House, according to the Washington Post
. White House press secretary Jay Carney reportedly declined to offer a definitive opinion on the plan, saying that the Postal Service is independent.
Another area of opposition has come from trade unions. Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers is quoted
as saying: "Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s plan to end Saturday delivery is a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers. It would be particularly harmful to small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication."
In response, Mr Donahoe said
22,500 jobs would be sacrificed in the shift to five-day mail service. However, the USPS head has stated that this would be by attrition, buyouts and changes to part-time work rather than lay-offs.
There has also been concern from trade associations, like the American Forest and Paper Association, whose members include the paper and packaging industry. Another group expressing misgivings is the National Newspaper Association, who claim
that thousands of newspapers are delivered by mail on Saturdays.
Several people have also expressed worries and disappointment, although these concerns tend to be more selective according to different local media outlets (one example of concerned residents is discussed within an article in the Salisbury Post
). The Financial Times
speculates that "The end of Saturday delivery could trigger a backlash among advocates of rural and elderly voters who still depend heavily on regular mail."
Whether the plan goes ahead or not, the debate is certainly set to run until August.