April 2, 2010 Volume 111 Number 7

Unions protest Postal Service plan to eliminate Saturday mail service

Postmaster General John Potter’s proposal to eliminate Saturday mail delivery would be the most radical change to postal operations in the 230-year history of the U.S. Mail, says Jim Cook, president of the Portland-based National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82.

The Postal Service Board of Governors on March 24 approved Potter’s request to cut most Saturday deliveries. On March 30, the Board filed a request for an advisory opinion with the Postal Regulatory Commission. Any change in delivery, however, would require congressional approval.

In a press release, Cook said there are no comprehensive studies showing that cutting Saturday service would solve the economic problems facing the USPS, which lost $3.8 billion in 2009.

More than 100,000 jobs already have been eliminated through attrition over the last two-and-a-half years, and hundreds of post offices are scheduled to close, including two in Oregon.

“If the public postal service disappears, private delivery companies, based on profit motive, will not fill the void of the universal delivery service mandated by the U.S. Constitution,” Cook said.

Eliminating Saturday delivery, Cook continued, could seriously impact senior citizens and others who get their prescription drugs through the mail, and would inconvenience those who live in rural areas, where the Postal Service’s competitors do not deliver.

American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus told a U.S. Senate subcommittee March 18 that the central cause of USPS’ financial difficulties is a congressionally-imposed requirement to prepay retiree health care obligations, and a flawed method for computing USPS obligations to the Civil Service Retirement Fund.

“Absent this pre-funding burden, the Postal Service would have experienced a cumulative surplus of $3.7 billion over the last three fiscal years, despite declining mail volume, an economy in chaos, and electronic diversion,” Burrus said.

Burrus and other union officials are urging Congress to rescind the pre-funding provisions. Doing so, they say, would make the elimination of Saturday mail delivery unnecessary.

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