NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Postal workers denounce Patrick Donahoe’s scheme to end Saturday mail delivery

Ear­li­er today, Post­mas­ter Gen­er­al Patrick Don­a­hoe (who seems to thinks his job at the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice is Dis­man­tler-in-Chief, as opposed to chief exec­u­tive) announced that he and his sub­or­di­nates have uni­lat­er­al­ly decid­ed to end Sat­ur­day mail deliv­ery to U.S. homes and busi­ness­es as of August 5th, 2013… with­out con­gres­sion­al approval.

Fed­er­al law has man­dat­ed for decades that the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice deliv­er Amer­i­ca’s mail six days a week. That man­date has been a main­stay of appro­pri­a­tion bills for a very long time, but Don­a­hoe and USPS brass are bet­ting that Con­gress will take no action if they choose to sim­ply begin ignor­ing it as of this summer.

Dono­hoe’s legal ratio­nale is that the con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion that’s keep­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment oper­at­ing through March 27th does not explic­it­ly pre­vent the Postal Ser­vice from alter­ing its deliv­ery sched­ule, so they are free to axe Sat­ur­day delivery.

The elim­i­na­tion of Sat­ur­day deliv­ery is actu­al­ly a move that Don­a­hoe and his pre­de­ces­sor, George W. Bush appointee John Pot­ter  — who was Don­a­hoe’s boss for years — have want­ed to make for a long time.

Until this week, they’ve only talked about it.

But now, they’ve decid­ed to actu­al­ly try to do it, and dare Con­gress to stop them. They evi­dent­ly think they’re not going to be overruled.

(Some mem­bers of Con­gress beg to dif­fer).

And recent his­to­ry would cer­tain­ly lend cre­dence to their view. Con­gress has been ignor­ing the Postal Ser­vice’s mount­ing prob­lems (some self-inflict­ed) for years.

Last ses­sion, the Sen­ate belat­ed­ly passed a bill to mod­ern­ize the U.S. Postal Ser­vice and unchain it from the ridicu­lous require­ment that mon­ey be set aside to pay all retiree health ben­e­fits for sev­en­ty-five years… a require­ment imposed on the Postal Ser­vice by the cor­rupt Repub­li­can major­i­ty that was in pow­er dur­ing 2005 and 2006. The bill had flaws, but it was a start. The Repub­li­can-con­trolled House, how­ev­er, failed to take up the leg­is­la­tion, and it died.

Patrick Don­a­hoe’s response could have been to bring pres­sure to bear on Con­gress by work­ing coop­er­a­tive­ly with postal work­ers’ unions, civic groups, and activists all over the coun­try to demand leg­is­la­tion to strength­en the Postal Service.

Instead, he is shame­ful­ly using his posi­tion as Post­mas­ter Gen­er­al to destroy the Postal Ser­vice from with­in by clos­ing post offices, short­en­ing hours, elim­i­nat­ing jobs, and now axing Sat­ur­day mail delivery.

To be clear, the scheme Don­a­hoe is plan­ning to imple­ment only calls for the elim­i­na­tion of mail pick­up and mail deliv­ery to street address­es. Pack­ages would con­tin­ue to be deliv­ered on Sat­ur­days (for now) and incom­ing mail would still be placed in post office box­es on Sat­ur­days (for now). But it’s still a stu­pid move.

The well-paid Don­a­hoe — who makes more mon­ey than any fed­er­al offi­cial save for the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States — has become obsessed with cost-cut­ting, to the detri­ment of the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States and Amer­i­ca’s postal sys­tem, which is one of the essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices explic­it­ly men­tioned in the U.S. Constitution.

Thank­ful­ly, Amer­i­ca’s postal work­ers are hav­ing none of this. The Nation­al Let­ter Car­ri­ers Asso­ci­a­tion and the Nation­al Rur­al Let­ter Car­ri­ers Asso­ci­a­tion both react­ed to Don­a­hoe’s scheme by call­ing for his imme­di­ate ouster as Post­mas­ter General.

“The Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Let­ter Car­ri­ers has tried time and again to work with Postal Ser­vice man­age­ment to pur­sue growth mea­sures and cost sav­ings, but 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,” NALC Pres­i­dent Fredric Rolan­do said in a blis­ter­ing state­ment.

“America’s let­ter car­ri­ers con­demn this reck­less plan in the strongest terms. We call for the imme­di­ate removal of the post­mas­ter gen­er­al, who has lost the con­fi­dence of the men and women who deliv­er for Amer­i­ca every day.”

“And we urge Con­gress to devel­op a real reform plan that gives the Postal Ser­vice the free­dom to grow and inno­vate in the dig­i­tal era.”

“Today’s announce­ment by Post­mas­ter Gen­er­al Don­a­hoe to elim­i­nate six-day deliv­ery is yet anoth­er death knell for the qual­i­ty ser­vice pro­vid­ed by the U.S. Postal Ser­vice,” agreed Nation­al Rur­al Let­ter Car­ri­er Asso­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Jeanette Dwyer.

“For decades, the Postal Ser­vice has upheld a per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al stan­dard of ser­vice, deliv­er­ing to every house­hold nation­wide six days a week. To erode this ser­vice will under­mine the Postal Service’s core mis­sion and is com­plete­ly unac­cept­able. 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, who char­ac­ter­ized Don­a­hoe’s scheme as “rep­re­hen­si­ble” and “irre­spon­si­ble”, also announced that NRL­CA’s board (which was meet­ing in Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia) had vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to endorse his ouster.

The Amer­i­can Postal Work­ers Union, mean­while, echoed the sen­ti­ments of NRLCA and NALC. (The APWU rep­re­sents postal clerks and main­te­nance workers).

“The APWU con­demns the Postal Service’s deci­sion to elim­i­nate Sat­ur­day mail deliv­ery, which will only deep­en the agency’s con­gres­sion­al­ly-man­u­fac­tured finan­cial cri­sis,” Pres­i­dent Cliff Guf­fey said.

“The USPS has already begun slash­ing mail ser­vice by clos­ing 13,000 post offices or dras­ti­cal­ly reduc­ing hours of oper­a­tion, shut­ting hun­dreds of mail pro­cess­ing facil­i­ties, and down­grad­ing stan­dards for mail deliv­ery to America’s homes and busi­ness­es. The effects are being felt in cities and towns across the country.”

“USPS exec­u­tives can­not save the Postal Ser­vice by tear­ing it apart. These across-the-board cut­backs will weak­en the nation’s mail sys­tem and put it on a path to pri­va­ti­za­tion,” Guf­fey added. He not­ed that the Postal Ser­vice would be on a much stronger finan­cial foot­ing were it not for the Orwellian-named Postal Account­abil­i­ty and Enhance­ment Act con­ceived and passed by Repub­li­cans in 2006.

We at NPI stand with Amer­i­ca’s let­ter car­ri­ers and all the house­holds and busi­ness­es that unequiv­o­cal­ly oppose the elim­i­na­tion of Sat­ur­day mail delivery.

Sat­ur­day deliv­ery is one of USPS’ most sig­nif­i­cant com­pet­i­tive advan­tages. Elim­i­nat­ing Sat­ur­day deliv­ery will only exac­er­bate USPS’ chal­lenges and cause the pub­lic to fur­ther lose con­fi­dence in the Postal Service.

It may save some mon­ey in the short run, but in the long run, it will be incred­i­bly destruc­tive in every respect. It is an irre­spon­si­ble and like­ly ille­gal deci­sion, and we call on Con­gress to put a stop to it immediately.

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One Comment

  1. Peo­ple also depend upon the postal ser­vice for the deliv­ery of rent checks, which are due on the first of the month, with many work­ers receiv­ing their pay­checks on the last day of the month.

    # by Linda, NPI Correspondent :: February 9th, 2013 at 8:46 PM
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