The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

April 10, 2013

Post office retreats on eliminating Saturday mail

WASHINGTON — The beleaguered U.S. Postal Service backed down from its cost-saving plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, acknowledging that Congress barred a move that supporters said was essential to addressing the agency’s dire financial condition.

Despite the retreat, the governing board said Wednesday that it’s not possible for the Postal Service to meet its goals for reduced spending without altering the delivery schedule. Delaying “responsible changes,” the board said, only makes it more likely that the Postal Service “may become a burden” to taxpayers.

The Postal Service said in February that it planned to switch to five-day-a-week deliveries beginning in August for everything except packages as a way to hold down losses.

But that announcement was a gamble. The agency essentially was asking Congress to drop from spending legislation the longtime ban on five-day-only delivery. Congress did not do that when it passed a spending measure last month.

“By including restrictive language ...  Congress has prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule for mail and package,” the postal Board of Governors said in a statement Wednesday.

The board said it was disappointed by the congressional action, but would not disregard the law. It directed the Postal Service to delay putting in place the new delivery schedule until Congress passes legislation that gives the agency “the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule.”

The board made the decision in a closed meeting Tuesday.

Officials said that to restore the service to long-term financial stability, the agency must have the flexibility to reduce costs and come up with new revenues.

“It is not possible for the Postal Service to meet significant cost reduction goals without changing its delivery schedule —  any rational analysis of our current financial condition and business options leads to this conclusion,” the board statement said.

An independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control. It lost nearly $16 billion last year — $11.1 billion of that due to a 2006 law Congress passed forcing it to pay into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does.

“Given these extreme circumstances and the worsening financial condition of the Postal Service, the board has directed management to seek a reopening of negotiations with the postal unions and consultations with management associations to lower total workforce costs, and to take administrative actions necessary to reduce costs,” according to the statement. It offered no giving further details.

It said the board also asked management to look at further options to raise revenues, including a rate increase.

The Postal Service already is executing a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations. Since 2006, it has reduced annual costs by approximately $15 billion, cut its workforce by 193,000 or 28 percent, and consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations.

GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he was disappointed in the change of plans announced Wednesday and noted that polls show a majority of people support the reduced delivery schedule.

“This reversal significantly undercuts the credibility of Postal officials who have told Congress that they were prepared defy political pressure and make difficult but necessary cuts,” Issa said in a statement.

“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.”

Sen. Tom Carper, a leader on postal issues, said he hoped Congress would pass new legislation to address the agency’s problems.

“Even though today’s decision by the Postal Service’s Board of Governors delays its controversial proposal, the urgent need for the administration and Congress to work together to save the Postal Service by making hard decisions and tackling controversial issues like Saturday delivery remains,” Carper, D-Del., said in a statement.

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages, and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully has appealed to Congress to approve the move.

The idea to cut mail but keep six-day package delivery played up the agency’s strong point. It’s package service is growing as more people buy things online, while the volume of letters sent has slumped with increased use of email and other internet services.

The Senate last year passed a bill that would have stopped the postal service from eliminating Saturday service for at least two years and required it to try two years of aggressive cost cutting instead. The House didn’t pass a bill.

 

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Lordstown eyes fall rollout of updated Cruze

    Production of the updated Chevrolet Cruze is tentatively set to begin early this fall at the General Motors facility in Lordstown, a plant official confirmed.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • A year after background check defeat, modest goals

    Democratic worries about this November’s elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama’s effort to pass new curbs on firearms.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT

    Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Poll finds Clinton trouncing entire GOP field

    Hillary Clinton isn’t only the strong front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but she’s well ahead of every potential Republican rival, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist operation” to try to restore authority over the restive region.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • U.N. Security Council sees grim images of Syrian dead

    The U.N. Security Council fell silent Tuesday after ambassadors viewed a series of ghastly photographs of dead Syrian civil war victims, France’s ambassador said. The pictures showed people who were emaciated, with their bones protruding, and some bearing the marks of strangulation and repeated beatings, and eyes having been gouged out.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia causing Ukraine unrest

    The White House on Monday said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia is fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but suggested that President Barack Obama has not yet concluded that Vladimir Putin’s actions warrant broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors.

    April 15, 2014

  • Woman arrested after dead babies found

    A Utah woman accused of killing seven babies she gave birth to over 10 years was arrested Sunday after police discovered the tiny bodies stuffed in separate cardboard boxes in the garage of her former home.

    April 14, 2014

  • Rome man killed in crash

    The Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post is investigating a fatal crash that took place just after midnight Sunday.

    April 14, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video