Friday, February 08, 2013

Cleaver: Eliminating Saturday postal delivery will cost 50,000 jobs

(In his latest EC from DC column, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver spells out the problems that will occur if the U. S. Postal Service is allowed to continue with its plan to eliminate Saturday delivery.)

As you may have seen in the news, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays — but will continue delivering packages — starting August 1, 2013. Since 1971, the USPS has been a self-supporting government agency that covers its operating costs with revenues generated through the sales of postage and related products and services—not with taxpayer dollars. In recent years, the USPS has experienced significant financial challenges. The current financial crisis suffered by the postal service is substantial, but it is due to unique factors and this is not a sensible solution.

According to the postal service, the move will save about $2 billion a year for the postal service. Post offices would remain open on Saturdays so that customers can drop off mail or packages, buy postage stamps, or access their post office boxes, officials said. Hours likely will be reduced at thousands of smaller locations.

The USPS provides affordable, accessible universal service as mandated by the Constitution. Many Americans rely on six day mail delivery for essential items such as medications, time-sensitive legal documents, methods of income, and social security checks. Eliminating six-day mail delivery would hurt elderly Americans who depend on social security as their sole source of income and small businesses that rely on USPS to deliver time-sensitive legal documents. Since many rural communities lack access to quality, affordable internet service, these closures would effectively isolate Americans living in low density regions, forcing them to endure costly, prolonged deliveries, to pay bills or receive income. 

Business in the United States is conducted six days—and, in many sectors, seven days—per week. Small and large businesses alike, from individual entrepreneurs to large-scale financial firms, rely on the delivery of the mail six days per week to operate successfully. Adjusting this system by even one day could prove to be a problematic change, especially for the elderly who depend on their social security as their sole source income, or people and pets awaiting much needed mail order medications. 

Further, switching to five day delivery will result in the loss of jobs. Eliminating Saturday delivery would surely cost more than 50,000 rural letter carrier jobs. Such a drastic loss would not only harm our economy, but also offset any deficit reduction, since the tens of thousands of newly unemployed middle-class families would require financial assistance to make it day-to-day. At a time when Congress should be doing everything it can to spur economic growth, we must prevent the destruction of thousands of middle-class American jobs.

This new delivery schedule may negatively impact hundreds of thousands of seniors, service men and women, veterans, and disabled Americans who currently rely on home delivery of their prescription drugs. Whether it is a homebound senior that cannot walk or drive to the pharmacy, or a veteran who lives in a rural area with limited access to the prescription drugs they need, all of these home delivery beneficiaries cannot afford to go without their medications for days. Nor should they have to obtain their medications through more costly delivery methods, which would only draw business away from the USPS and threaten its long term financial stability. 

I have signed onto a letter to Postmaster General Donahoe to express this very concern, and to ask him to ensure the USPS will not affect the many Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, VA and other beneficiaries who currently rely on low cost delivery of prescription drugs to their doorstep. While I am opposed to the new 5-day delivery schedule, others have welcomed it. No matter our position, we all want to ensure that our constituents will be able to receive the medications that they depend on in a timely manner. 

A number of ideas have been proposed that would attempt to improve the USPS's financial condition in the short term so that it might continue as a self-funding government agency. All of these reforms would require Congress to amend current postal law. The ideas include (1) increasing the USPS's revenues by altering postage rates and increasing its offering of nonpostal rates and services; and (2) reducing the USPS's expenses by a number of means, such as recalculating the USPS's retiree health care and pension obligations and payments, closing postal facilities, and reducing mail delivery to less than six days per week. I will continue to look into ways to protect the solvency of the postal service, the satisfaction of postal customers, and taxpayer dollars.


Anonymous said...

The alternative is to charge us all more for using the service? The USPS is not in business to employ people. Nowhere in its charter does it specify a mission to employ people. It is in business to deliver the mail. If it can't do that, it needs to adjust its business practices. This guy's letter says the options are "less than six days per week service," close some post offices, or "alter" the rates all customers are charged. We saw how far the "close some post offices" idea went, and now if we want to keep Saturday delivery too, the only option left is to raise (I mean "alter") the fees on everyone.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't mail order medication for veterans and the elderly arrive in packages? I understand that packages will still be delivered on Saturdays, just no letters. Am I wrong? Why are these guys always trying to scare the people who need help the most (veterans and elderly) when they really just want to protect the postal worker jobs at the expense of all other "workers" and non workers in the country?