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Why the Postal Service Really Wants to Skip Saturday

donahoeBusiness Week – by Devin Leonard

U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe caused a stir on Wednesday, when his agency announced that it would end Saturday mail delivery as early as August. This was surely his intention.

Donahoe has made no secret of his frustrations with Washington’s political leaders. Ever since he officially took office in January 2011, he has been trying to staunch theUSPS’s mounting financial losses—$25 million a day—as first-class mail volume declines in the digital era. He has pleaded with Congress to eliminate some of the red tape that keeps the USPS from reducing costs on its own. So far, leaders of the House and Senate have failed to grant his wishes.

This is where Wednesday’s announcement becomes intriguing. Until now, the USPS has taken the position that it needs congressional approval to end Saturday delivery. “Congress must elect not to renew the legislation requiring the Postal Service to deliver six days a week,” it says on its website.

However, Bloomberg News’s Angela Greiling Keane reports that Donahoe now thinks the USPS can get around this legal obstacle by taking advantage of a technicality. She writes: “Cutting Saturday delivery is allowed under Congress’s continuing resolution funding government operations that expires March 27, Donahoe said. ‘It is our opinion with the way the law is set, with the continuing resolution, we can make this change,’” he said.

The strategy sounds legally tenuous, but it might be politically savvy. Donahoe is tired of begging. The USPS frequently points to public opinion polls showing that Americans are fine with five-day mail delivery if it enables the agency to continue operating in their communities. The service would continue to deliver packages and mail to post office boxes on Saturdays.

Still, the entire gambit is risky for Donahoe. There could be a backlash from postal workers’ unions who oppose his plan, as well as from their congressional supporters. On the other hand, the cutback could force Congress to get serious about postal reform.

This is a tactical shift for Donahoe—one that may be long overdue. He has tried being polite. Considering how much money the USPS is losing, it’s probably time for him to try something else.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-06/why-the-postal-service-really-wants-to-skip-saturday#r=rss

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8 Responses to Why the Postal Service Really Wants to Skip Saturday

  1. diggerdan says:

    Now all they got to do is eliminate junk mail!!

    • Tom says:

      I complained once to my sister, who has been a rural route carrier for the USPS most of her adult life, that I didn’t know why junk mail got preferred postage rates when nobody really wanted to see it in their boxes anyway. She looked me straight in the eye and deadpanned, “But it pays for the route.” and I realized that she was right — without the large volume of junk mail in her car, the USPS could not afford to pay her to deliver the small volume of first class mail. Period. It’s simple economics, which even the USPS is subject to.

  2. Ponce says:

    Like I posted long ago………one of this day the government will want to charge us for email, 1.5 cents for each email….to start with.

    This is Ponce

  3. Tom says:

    The real reason the USPS is in trouble financially is a poison-pill bill introduced by Representative Daryl Issa that forces the USPS to put up over five billion dollars of retirement money for their employees, an amount that covers future employees who haven’t even been born yet, let alone hired. Why would he do that? Two of Issa’s largest campaign contributors are UPS and FedEx, who would love to see the USPS go bankrupt so they could scoop up the assets for pennies on the dollar. Few people know that the USPS already delivers a huge amount of small parcels for those other for-profit carriers because the post office can do it cheaper on their regular route than the private trucks can.

    BTW, Representative Issa is already the richest member of the house, which is saying a lot.

    As for Saturday delivery, I could do without it just fine. A good compromise might be to end Saturday delivery but have the customer service counters open for people who have difficulty getting there during M-F business hours. It would be cheaper than running the whole delivery crew, but offer a new valuable service. If not enough people used the Saturday customer service counter hours to be worth having it open, call it a failed experiment and drop it.

    • NC says:

      Of course our government would want to get rid of the USPS in order to help UPS and FedEx because those two are corporate entities. Gotta continue to help increase the profits of the corporate Fascist government while getting rid of everyone else.

      • Tom says:

        It would seem that the problem here is that UPS and FedEx can/are making all the right “campaign contributions” while the USPS either isn’t or is forbidden from doing the same. In today’s business climate, not slinging money around to the right places puts you at a distinct disadvantage.

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