Postal Service backs away from Saturday cuts

By Aarian Marshall

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

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WASHINGTON, April 11, 2013 - The Postal Service no longer plans to cut Saturday service, the quasi-governmental agency announced yesterday. USPS' Board of Governors say their hands were tied by last month's Continuing Resolution (CR), which “prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule.” The agency insisted, however, that it would again pursue five-day delivery once the CR expires in September.

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The Postal Service says it is re-opening negotiations with postal unions to lower costs, but says it cannot survive long on those changes alone. In FY2012, USPS lost almost $16 billion. It says cutting Saturday delivery would have saved $2 billion.

As USPS searches for a long-term solution to its budgetary woes, a number of rural lawmaker and advocates said yesterday they were glad Saturday service would continue.

“We were pleased to hear that the USPS has decided to reverse its plan to end Saturday mail delivery later this year,” National Farmers Union (NFU) Vice President for Government Relations Chandler Goule said in a statement. “Many rural USPS customers depend heavily on weekend delivery, and eliminating it would have a negative impact on rural America.”

During their March 2013 convention, NFU delegates passed a Special Order of Business that urged “the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to abandon its plan to discontinue Saturday mail delivery.”

“Today's announcement from the Postal Service that it is dropping a plan to end Saturday mail service is good news for every community across our region of Illinois,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., in a statement. (Bustos' district includes a number of rural areas and large agribusinesses.) “I'm especially reminded of how seniors I've met in my travels were worried that someday their prescriptions may not arrive on time, and the small business owners whose operations depend on goods delivered by their postal worker.”

Opposition from some powerful lawmakers, however, indicates that questions of six-day delivery have not yet been put to bed. Rep Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who chairs the House Oversight Committee, says he is “disappointed” USPS bowed to political pressure and accepted the provisions of the CR.

“Despite some assertions, it's quite clear that special interest lobbying and intense political pressure played a much greater role in the Postal Service's change of heart than any real or perceived barrier to implementing what had been announced,” he said.


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