Saturday mail axed

A 1 cent increase in stamp prices isn't the only money-generating move made by the post office in recent weeks.
Marie Havenga
Feb 7, 2013

 

Your mailbox will be letter-less on Saturdays beginning in August.

The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays in an effort to trim costs. Weekend package delivery will continue status quo.

The move is expected to save about $2 billion annually for the struggling government agency, which suffered close to a $16 billion net loss last year.

Mike Story, acting postmaster in Grand Haven, said he believes six-months notice is enough for residents to adjust their bill payment and letter-mailing habits.

Come August, don't plan on receiving your $10 birthday check from Aunt Thelma on a Saturday. But if auntie ordered you a gold bracelet or other nifty gift from the Internet, it will still be delivered in time for your weekend outing. The Grand Haven office — and other community post offices throughout the nation — will still be staffed on Saturdays.

Post office box customers can still retrieve their mail on weekends with no changes.

“Any post office box customer or any people that come to the window will still be able to get service on Saturday,” Story said. “We'll have the same hours we currently have.”

The Grand Haven post office has 18 rural route carriers and 12 city routes. Story said it is unknown at this time if the Saturday cutback will result in any job losses.

While e-mail and online bill payments have taken a toll on traditional mailing, online orders have spiked package delivery — up 14 percent since 2010, according to postal officials.

“E-mail is eroding our First Class mail volumes,” Story said. “Our bulk business is somewhat leveling off. Our greatest growth potential is in the packages.

"I do anticipate significant growth service-wide in our packages because we are much cheaper than (other delivery services)," he continued. "By delivering packages on Saturday, we will still have that presence seen.”

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Comments

lotus1

It is about time!

BTL2A

Deliver Mail three times a week as far as I am concerned.

Vladtheimp

Fine by me - Following the example set by the government which spends projected savings in advance, I've already spent the savings from lower stamp prices reflecting the reduced labor costs.

Lanivan

And then there are those congressionally mandated restrictions that requires the USPS to fund decades of employee benefits in advance immediately.

Vladtheimp

Not many, but a couple of things to consider: (1) The requirement ensures that, unlike so many other public sector employees, the health benefits of USPS employees will be fully funded when they retire; (2) the issues were explored by the Congressional Research Service http://www.scribd.com/doc/801126..., but the requirement for pre-payment is only through 2016, not "decades" (3) most telling, about 80 cents of every postal dollar pays for employee salaries and benefits (compared to less than 50 cents for Fed Ex and UPS). What that means is that if you want to cut costs at the post office, you have to slash labor expenses. Mr. Potter has reduced Postal Service employment to 650,000 from 800,000 the past four years, largely through attrition. But he still employs 650,000 workers who have among the best wages and benefits in all of American life. Most employees have no-layoff clauses, the starting salaries are about 25% to 30% higher than for comparably skilled private workers, and the fringe benefits are so expensive that the Government Accountability Office says $500 million a year could be saved merely by bringing health benefits into line with those of other federal workers. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB....

I haven't heard any suggestions from the Administration, the USPS, or the employee unions to reduce their Cadillac benefits to save their jobs.

Lanivan

Gee, Vlad, thanks for link.doc #801126, all 15+ pages of it. If this is comparable to what you dealt with working for the Fed Gov, you have my profound respect.

1.)The fact remains that the 2006 Congressional mandate, unique and not imposed on any other government agency, requires pre-funding retiree health care 75 years into the future, to the tune of $5.5 billion/yr., and to end in 2016. The Senate proposal that would stretch out the required payments over 40 years at $2.5 billion/yr is languishing in the Republican House. Clearly, the 2006 Congressional mandate created an artificial crisis which now accounts for 85% of the current USPS red ink. And now the House doesn't seem to feel much urgency in solving USPS insolvency.

2.) Page 14 of the CRS states, "By law, USPS is required to maintain compensation packages comparable to levels (of same) in the private sector". Page 15 - "Congress may wish to consider measures that would provide the USPS with increased means to control it's long-term labor costs" Appears the USPS is limited by law and Congressional measures to control labor costs, no?

3.) As for your final statement, page 11 of the CRS - "..FY2010 budget, President Obama proposed requiring USPS employees to pay the same % towards health insurance premiums & life insurance premiums as other federal workers (USPS=21% HC premium costs, 0% LI costs vs Federal= 28%/67%. There - now you've heard!

4.) Figures I found that compared labor costs between USPS, Fedex, and UPS - sort of comparing apples/oranges, showed a surprisingly close range - 76% (Fedex) to 89% (USPS).

Perhaps you are looking at this through your union paradigm.

My years of self-employment experience, modest in scope as it is, has taught me that when needing greater revenue for any reason, reducing labor costs via wage/benefit reduction usually doesn't produce the desired result, and should be considered the absolute last resort. You end up with po'd folks who work with one foot out the door. Emphasis on greater efficiency, innovation, improved customer service, team work/ownership, problem solving, etc has proven, in my case anyway, to be ultimately more productive and revenue-producing, with loyal employees who go the extra mile.

Of course, we're talking here about the 2nd largest employer in the country, after the Federal Gov and before WalMart.

Vladtheimp

You won't get any argument from me that the Congress (House and Senate) is the cause of a majority of the problems of the USPS, from the wages and benefits they were provided when they were truly a government entity, to the requirement that they deliver junk mail cheaply to Congressional constituents, to the requirement that they maintain post offices in every junction where a few inhabitants happen to dwell - that was always unsustainable - but ignored by the Lords and Ladies of the Legislative Branch of government.

But I can't agree with the proposition that the labor costs of the Post Office are even close to the same costs to UPS and Fed Ex - I believe from my research that the 80 cents versus 50 cents is roughly accurate: (1) to believe otherwise would be to believe that UPS and Fed Ex wages and benefits are higher than those of the average federal employee (see also http://jobs.aol.com/articles/201..., (2) this has nothing to do with what I might feel about unions - UPS is unionized, Fed Ex is non-union.

Bottom line - IMHO like so many other problems facing the country, the USPS problem lies at the foot of the Congress (House and Senate, Democrat and Republican. (And if you think reading a CRS report is hard, try reading any annual appropriation bill or a legislative analysis of legislation that attempts to do a plethora of things sub rosa http://housedocs.house.gov/energ...

Lanivan

Thanks for the rose! I'm tempted to print it out and wallpaper the dining room with it - what lively discussions it would invoke.....

Btw, fyi, your research is wrong. Labor costs as a % of total adjusted operating costs between FedEx, UPS, and USPS are very closely clustered. And - Average annual Federal workers total compensation package for 2008 was $119,982. USPS - $83,000. Private Sector - $59,909. Sorry - labor costs are not the problem. But I think you already knew that, right?

Vladtheimp

Did you miss the fact that the Postal Workers benefits are HIGHER than the average federal worker?

Lanivan

No, I did not. My comparison was based on the total wage/benefit package, (as I stated).

theconspirator

If they stop delivering bills I will be thrilled

Mystic Michael

Just brilliant! The United States appears to be the only advanced industrial democracy in the world that is determined to kill off its own postal service - not by doing it in the straightforward, upfront, honest way (i.e. by simply de-authorizing it out in the open), but by doing it in the typically Congressional way - i.e. in a sneaky, conniving, weaselly way that attempts to disguise the true motives of the conspirators, so that they can all claim pure & noble goals.

The draconian law that the U.S. House Republicans got passed in 2006 (and that George W. Bush naturally signed) imposes far more extreme employee pension obligations upon the USPS than virtually ANY private company has ever had to bear. Yet funny how it is that the Republicans generally don't give two harrumphs about worker rights - in any scenario OTHER than one in which they get to destroy a valuable governmental or quasi-governmental organization.

What could they be up to? Could it possibly be related to the fact that FedEx - a major (perhaps THE major) competitor to the USPS - donates roughly three times as much cash to the electoral campaigns of Congressional Republicans, as it does to the campaigns of Congressional Democrats? But what in the world could be FedEx's interest in all of this?

Oh. Wait...

There's just one little problem: The U.S. Constitution, that quaint little 18th Century document with which right-wing Republicans just love to drape themselves - but apparently don't care to actually READ - just happens to call for the establishment of the Post Office. Apparently the Founding Fathers felt it important enough to mention categorically in the founding document of our entire country. So why isn't that good enough for today's right-wing Republicans - and the party of so-called "original intent"?

Oh, right. I forgot: MONEY.

MM

Vladtheimp

Breaking news! After walking guns to Mexico and killing Border agents, doing nothing to save diplomats and their security in Libya, running up the deficit by trillions, permitting illegal aliens to remain in the country, enhancing wireless surveillance of American citizens, and doing eeny-meeny-miny-moe to determine what foreigners and Americans will be killed by unmanned drones, the despicable George Chimpy McHitler Bush murdered the Post Office. Oh the Humanity! I have it on good authority that he killed the turkeys too.http://youtu.be/4FXSnoy71Q4

Lanivan

Oh dear! A little too many nips on the Port?

Vladtheimp

A little too many tired left wing talking points. Drone kills, baby, drone kills by the great Constitutional Civil Libertarian. And if I were nipping, it would be Starboard.

Lanivan

So stern....

Vladtheimp

Can't believe that went over my head - I bow to your language skills.

Lanivan

If that is heeling in the direction of a compliment, a jibe from you, I tackfully accept.

Vladtheimp

No Mast - You win! That was a compliment even if I'll keel over if I hear any more left wing bilge from rudderless progressives whose cleats aren't anchored in reality. That they feel compelled to spinnaker every issue is a telltale of their lack of depth. They can't fathom how conservatives think, but I can admire the cut of your jib from time to time.

Lanivan

We are a bit leeward and windward in our political "realities". Something I have found helpful in rounding the mark more successfully - hike out a little further, loosen a few strategic stays, and go higher into the wind. It might help fathom the depths of those of us who think differently than you.

Vladtheimp

It would be a broad reach to try to ketch up to your nautical expertise; as much as I luff the challenge, and would attempt to trim my wording, it would tend to get very sloopy. Yawl win!

Lanivan

Since pointing into the wind is making us both "sloopy", I guess it's time to let off the sails before we turtle.

Vladtheimp

As you perch on the binnacle of your nautical linguistic superiority, let me pay tribute with the prestigious Bawney Fwank First Admiral of the Windward Passage prize, in song: http://youtu.be/InBXu-iY7cw

Lanivan

Now you're really reaching....time to walk the gangplank.

Mystic Michael

As a wise man once said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." Deal with it.

As for rest of all this rubbish, unfortunately for you, you're not going to succeed in distracting and diverting attention away from the core topic here - merely it happens to send you into contortions of painful cognitive dissonance. Maybe - and I'm just spiff balling here - the actual, permanent solution for you & yours would be to conform all your whack-a-doodle dogmas to the rigors of The Real World. For a change.

Just a thought...

MM

Vladtheimp

Strange suggestion coming from someone who calls himself Mystic, which actually pretty well describes his connection to reality when he twangs his magic twanger and spews forth left wing conspiracy theories wrapped in their talking points.

Lanivan

"The right-winger doth protest too much, methinks".....especially in lieu of the fact that the internal Republican drone war currently taking place may just privatize the grand old party into oblivion. Rove vs Teabaggers, Fox vs Palin/Morris, this PAC vs that PAC - the sins of the fathers are coming home to roost. MM's comments are but music to the ears compared to the paranoid and delusional money/power/control/connection-to-reality being fought for all of us to see (enjoy?).

Vladtheimp

I fear you have a tin ear with respect to Obama's violation of basic rights to due process for American citizens by his individually deciding who is going to be visited by a drone, and his expanding use of drones within the continental U.S. Frankly, I could care less if some American Taliban gets his butt blown off in Whoozeristan, but I'm not the one who bloviates about human rights and hounded George Bush mercilessly for far less egregious actions. And now your pals are actually arguing that it is better to be blown into camel food rather than be waterboarded, which was actually used in our own special forces training. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds or something, I guess.

Lanivan

Shame on you for butchering Oscar Wilde! You have now crossed the Rubicon with this drone obsession. C'mon - you spoil all the fun when you compare drone attacks - which the Pentagon is getting better at, btw - to Bush's "far less egregious" 2 wars at a cost of trillions, thousands of our soldiers, killed, maimed, and damaged, thousands of innocent civilians killed. I salute and applaud Obama for fighting the real war in the most responsible, effective, and smart way. The war with Al Qaeda can't be fought like the War of Roses (just pulled this out of thin air while we're on a Richard III riff).

Vladtheimp

Right. all the Congressional Democrats, basing information on Iraq weapons of mass destruction from the Clinton Administration (and Clinton was probably correct), demanding that the evil Boosh take action against Saddam - Hillary, Kennedy, Kerry, etc. all down the memory rat hole.

You accuse Bush of starting 2 wars, but I thought Afghanistan was the "right war". "President-elect Barack Obama says that Afghanistan is "the right war." "It's time to heed the call from General [David] McKiernan and others for more troops," Obama said in late October, referring to the US commander in Afghanistan. "That's why I'd send at least two or three additional combat brigades to Afghanistan." http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2...

Or is it now racist or something to remember what Obama and the Democrats actually said, or is history, like the Constitution, a "living document" to be changed as circumstances require?

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