Maine delegation blasts decision to cut Saturday mail delivery

PORTLAND — Members of Maine’s congressional delegation blasted the U.S. Postal Service’s proposed elimination of Saturday mail delivery, saying the move would disproportionately affect the rural communities that make up the majority of their home state.

AP file photo

U.S. Post Office letter carrier Tim Bell delivers the mail during a snow storm in 2009 in Havertown, Pa. The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion a year. 

AP file photo

Letter carrier Kevin Pownall delivers mail in Philadelphia. 

Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press

Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe speaks during a news conference at U.S. Postal Service headquarters Wednesday  in Washington. The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week.

Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press

Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe speaks during a news conference at U.S. Postal Service headquarters Wednesday in Washington. The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week.

But the postal service’s regional spokesman said the organization must take steps to deal with severe revenue shortages and heavy debt in recent years, and customers have cited shifting to five-day letter delivery as preferable to increasing costs.

Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service’s northern New England region, said the service would continue to deliver packages door-to-door on Saturdays after the change, which the service hopes will be implemented by August.

“There have been multiple surveys done by us and by independent pollsters,” Rizzo told the BDN on Wednesday. “Upward of 70 percent [of respondents] supported the move to five-day delivery if it means there won’t be any taxpayer funding.

“We’ve also heard some concerns, conversely, that many of the customers were worried about not receiving packages, such as medicines, on Saturdays,” he said. “So we believe what we’re doing helps place us on better financial footing while also taking into consideration some very legitimate concerns by our customers.”

The elimination of Saturday home delivery of mail reportedly would save the U.S. Postal Service approximately $2 billion per year as it continues to face heavy revenue losses. Rizzo said late last year that the service has lost more than $25 billion since 2007, in part from a 50 percent reduction in use of first-class mail delivery during the last decade.

“I understand that they have to do that to save money,” said Esther Clenott, a resident and former mayor of Portland, who spoke with the BDN on her way out of the city’s Congress Street post office. “I think our problem is not with the post office, it’s the fact that people are using their machines so much at home, to send their emails, that what they’re doing by that is creating a financial issue for the post office.”

The decision to drop Saturday mail delivery comes on the heels of attempts by the service to reduce hours at rural post offices, which receive less traffic than many of their urban counterparts. Of the nearly 13,000 post office branches nationwide tapped for hour reductions — in some cases down to as few as two open hours per day — 244 are in Maine.

Those hour reductions, which are scheduled to be implemented by the fall of 2014, are expected to save the postal service as much as $500 million annually.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, proposed a bill in 2012 that would have prevented the service from eliminating Saturday delivery for at least two years, but that legislation never was taken up by the House after passing in the Senate. In a statement Wednesday, she said maintaining office hours and mail delivery was crucial to support the country’s $1 trillion “mailing and mail-related” industries, which employ 8 million workers “in fields as diverse as direct mail, printing, catalog companies, magazine and newspaper publishing, and paper manufacturing.”

Collins questioned the service’s assumption that dropping the service would save $2 billion annually and said the organization should focus its efforts on employee buyouts and compensation reform instead of service reductions.

“The Postal Regulatory Commission found that the postal service’s proposed savings from moving to five-day delivery were overly inflated by $1.4 billion,” Collins said in a Wednesday statement. “It also found that a reduction in delivery days will result in more lost revenue and fewer customers than the postal service had anticipated.

“The fact is, nearly 80 percent of the postal service’s costs are workforce-related, and so as painful as it may be, finding a compassionate way to reduce these costs is simply unavoidable,” she continued.

Fellow Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, was not in office when Collins’ bill was considered, but on Wednesday signaled support for her legislation, or something similar, to help the service solve its financial troubles instead of cutting services.

“It is my hope that Congress accepts today’s announcement as an impetus to immediately begin work on postal reform legislation to adequately address the USPS’s looming economic crisis,” King said in a statement, in part. “These decisions are difficult but common-sense reforms like the ones advocated in [ Collins’] measure are preferential and will ultimately help to maintain the solvency of USPS and preserve its essential services.”

From the House, Democratic Maine Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree also expressed concerns.

“This move by the Postal Service could disproportionately affect rural communities that depend on reliable and timely mail delivery,” said Michaud and Pingree in a joint statement. “The bottom line is that Congress needs to act on postal reform so that we can avoid unnecessary service disruptions that could have a negative impact on families, businesses and our economy as a whole.”

Other Mainers were less concerned about the change. By 5 p.m., more than 67 percent of respondents to an informal online poll said Saturday mail delivery should be ended.

“I think the government’s hurting for money and everybody’s paying a lot of taxes,” said Dan Desena of Cape Elizabeth on Wednesday. “I think we can get along great waiting until Monday for our mail.”

Molly Smith of Portland said dropping Saturday mail delivery is “OK.”

“I think we’ve been spoiled, to be honest with you. It’s a great service, and so we’ll be all right.” she said.

“I spoke to my postman the other day. The only thing I’m getting in the mail is junk,” said Clenott. “I’m not getting letters from anybody anymore. I’m not really getting anything worthwhile anymore, and so I think unfortunately that’s what’s going to have to happen.”

But Becky Morse, who lives in the southern Maine town of Buxton, said she wanted to see Saturday mail delivery continue.

“I look forward to getting my mail on Saturday like any other day, and with … checks coming and the economy still the way it is, people really count on it,” Morse said Wednesday. “Say nothing of the people who will lose some [work hours] by [eliminating Saturday mail delivery]. That’s probably going to be quite a chunk out of their paychecks, I would think.”

Maine State Association of Letter Carriers president Mitch Bowman released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying his group is “extremely disappointed” by the potential end of Saturday mail delivery and would “work to defeat this short-sighted proposal.”

“We believe this would be a death spiral for the postal service,” Bowman said in part.

Tim Doughty, president of the the American Postal Workers Union Local 458 in the Portland area, agreed, telling the BDN, “Our customers will be negatively impacted by not being able to receive Netflix movies, birthday cards and other correspondence on Saturdays.

“I believe the postal service does a disservice to their own business model when they even propose service cuts to the very class of mail in which we have the potential to realize the largest profits,” Doughty said in an email late Wednesday afternoon. “When faced with a reduction in volume, most profitable companies would focus on generating revenue and increasing demand. Instead, the postal service is planning to slash and burn their way to financial solvency, and most business experts would agree that this is a doomed strategy.”

 Seth KoenigBangor Daily NewsPORTLAND — Members of Maine’s congressional delegation blasted the U.S. Postal Service’s proposed elimination of Saturday mail delivery, saying the move would disproportionately affect the rural communities that make up the majority of their home state.But the postal service’s regional spokesman said the organization must take steps to deal with severe revenue shortages and heavy debt in recent years, and customers have cited shifting to five-day letter delivery as preferable to increasing costs.Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service’s northern New England region, said the service would continue to deliver packages door-to-door on Saturdays after the change, which the service hopes will be implemented by August.“There have been multiple surveys done by us and by independent pollsters,” Rizzo told the BDN on Wednesday. “Upward of 70 percent [of respondents] supported the move to five-day delivery if it means there won’t be any taxpayer funding.“We’ve also heard some concerns, conversely, that many of the customers were worried about not receiving packages, such as medicines, on Saturdays,” he said. “So we believe what we’re doing helps place us on better financial footing while also taking into consideration some very legitimate concerns by our customers.”The elimination of Saturday home delivery of mail reportedly would save the U.S. Postal Service approximately $2 billion per year as it continues to face heavy revenue losses. Rizzo said late last year that the service has lost more than $25 billion since 2007, in part from a 50 percent reduction in use of first-class mail delivery during the last decade.“I understand that they have to do that to save money,” said Esther Clenott, a resident and former mayor of Portland, who spoke with the BDN on her way out of the city’s Congress Street post office. “I think our problem is not with the post office, it’s the fact that people are using their machines so much at home, to send their emails, that what they’re doing by that is creating a financial issue for the post office.”The decision to drop Saturday mail delivery comes on the heels of attempts by the service to reduce hours at rural post offices, which receive less traffic than many of their urban counterparts. Of the nearly 13,000 post office branches nationwide tapped for hour reductions — in some cases down to as few as two open hours per day — 244 are in Maine.Those hour reductions, which are scheduled to be implemented by the fall of 2014, are expected to save the postal service as much as $500 million annually.U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, proposed a bill in 2012 that would have prevented the service from eliminating Saturday delivery for at least two years, but that legislation never was taken up by the House after passing in the Senate. In a statement Wednesday, she said maintaining office hours and mail delivery was crucial to support the country’s $1 trillion “mailing and mail-related” industries, which employ 8 million workers “in fields as diverse as direct mail, printing, catalog companies, magazine and newspaper publishing, and paper manufacturing.”Collins questioned the service’s assumption that dropping the service would save $2 billion annually and said the organization should focus its efforts on employee buyouts and compensation reform instead of service reductions.“The Postal Regulatory Commission found that the postal service’s proposed savings from moving to five-day delivery were overly inflated by $1.4 billion,” Collins said in a Wednesday statement. “It also found that a reduction in delivery days will result in more lost revenue and fewer customers than the postal service had anticipated.“The fact is, nearly 80 percent of the postal service’s costs are workforce-related, and so as painful as it may be, finding a compassionate way to reduce these costs is simply unavoidable,” she continued.Fellow Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, was not in office when Collins’ bill was considered, but on Wednesday signaled support for her legislation, or something similar, to help the service solve its financial troubles instead of cutting services.“It is my hope that Congress accepts today’s announcement as an impetus to immediately begin work on postal reform legislation to adequately address the USPS’s looming economic crisis,” King said in a statement, in part. “These decisions are difficult but common-sense reforms like the ones advocated in [ Collins’] measure are preferential and will ultimately help to maintain the solvency of USPS and preserve its essential services.”From the House, Democratic Maine Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree also expressed concerns.“This move by the Postal Service could disproportionately affect rural communities that depend on reliable and timely mail delivery,” said Michaud and Pingree in a joint statement. “The bottom line is that Congress needs to act on postal reform so that we can avoid unnecessary service disruptions that could have a negative impact on families, businesses and our economy as a whole.”Other Mainers were less concerned about the change. By 5 p.m., more than 67 percent of respondents to an informal online poll said Saturday mail delivery should be ended.“I think the government’s hurting for money and everybody’s paying a lot of taxes,” said Dan Desena of Cape Elizabeth on Wednesday. “I think we can get along great waiting until Monday for our mail.”Molly Smith of Portland said dropping Saturday mail delivery is “OK.”“I think we’ve been spoiled, to be honest with you. It’s a great service, and so we’ll be all right.” she said.“I spoke to my postman the other day. The only thing I’m getting in the mail is junk,” said Clenott. “I’m not getting letters from anybody anymore. I’m not really getting anything worthwhile anymore, and so I think unfortunately that’s what’s going to have to happen.”But Becky Morse, who lives in the southern Maine town of Buxton, said she wanted to see Saturday mail delivery continue.“I look forward to getting my mail on Saturday like any other day, and with … checks coming and the economy still the way it is, people really count on it,” Morse said Wednesday. “Say nothing of the people who will lose some [work hours] by [eliminating Saturday mail delivery]. That’s probably going to be quite a chunk out of their paychecks, I would think.”Maine State Association of Letter Carriers president Mitch Bowman released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying his group is “extremely disappointed” by the potential end of Saturday mail delivery and would “work to defeat this short-sighted proposal.”“We believe this would be a death spiral for the postal service,” Bowman said in part.Tim Doughty, president of the the American Postal Workers Union Local 458 in the Portland area, agreed, telling the BDN, “Our customers will be negatively impacted by not being able to receive Netflix movies, birthday cards and other correspondence on Saturdays.“I believe the postal service does a disservice to their own business model when they even propose service cuts to the very class of mail in which we have the potential to realize the largest profits,” Doughty said in an email late Wednesday afternoon. “When faced with a reduction in volume, most profitable companies would focus on generating revenue and increasing demand. Instead, the postal service is planning to slash and burn their way to financial solvency, and most business experts would agree that this is a doomed strategy.”

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Maine delegation blasts decision to cut Saturday mail delivery

ƒriends, 22:50 HST Thursday
. .Bßrr. . bundle up
We have a running feud w/ snail mail out here in 96778 . We have the worst post office , ever . Believe you me , we have lived with APO / FPO , 96950 ( Saipan CM ) , 96942 ( Chuuk FM ) , 20007 ( the original Ben Franklin Post Office - the Old Post Office in Washington DC ) and they were better than what we have to put up with here in Hawai'i • 
We do niot use USPS whenever and wherever possible
Thankfully , we do have UPS ( big brown ) , FedEx , DHL and Airborme Distress ® [ sic ] and we use them instead . Not only that but our US Post Office system - l o s t - >$US20Billion last year ( 2012 )
How do you lose that much money ?
That's more than the US Foreign Aid and US State Dept budget combined
It's more than NASA got , too
Where did it all go ?
Shut 'em down
Let' 'em ' go postal ' /s, Steve

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Are we to conclude that all

Are we to conclude that all is not Paradise-like in Pacific Paradise?

Bob White's picture

They dont want to tackle the

They dont want to tackle the unions because thats somebodies voting base get them angry lose their votes just like they dont want to lose the vote of the welfare people so we kick the can down the road. Someday we will come to a T in the road ( we will be broke ooo we are ) then maybe we wil get something done.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

They don't want to tackle the..........

They, meaning congress, I take it, don't want to tackle the billions of corporate campaign dollars. What the unions give pales in comparison. And the welfare people don't give a nickle. Who do you think is hoping the postal system gets privatized? And, who do you think paid a LOT of campaign dollars to make it happen? It wasn't the unions and it sure as hell wasn't the welfare people. Think UPS and Fed X.

Jeff Johnson's picture

Not quite...

Joanne... there are strict laws about how much money corporations can donate, and only a handfull of companies that can actually do what the USPS does... UPS and FedEx have about 95% of the market share, DHL has a small presence in the US, and there are some small regional delivery services. I'll bet dollars to donuts that union contributions heavily outweigh what FedEx and UPS pony up.

Secondly, FedEx and UPS don't want the mail business... as I stated earlier their package handling systems can't deal with letter-sized envelopes. They're both set up for parcels, and business-size envelopes. Anything smaller is going to get caught in the conveyors and ramps, and get torn to shreds. FedEx and UPS will gladly absorb the small portion of parcel service the USPS does, and I'm sure that the company that privatizes the USPS will make a deal with UPS or FedEx to carry their bulk mail between regional sorting hubs. FedEx already does a large portion of the USPS priority and international mail.

The money in logistics is in weight and distance... not in the birthday card that Grammy sends to little Johnny.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Citizens United.

Have you ever heard about the Supreme Court's decision, Citizens United? It opened the floodgate for corporate donations, even from foreign corporations. The sky's the limit now.

Fed X and UPS LOBBIED congress for their mandate to make the postal service pay retirement benefits 75 years out and they must pay that in a ten year window.

You must be naive to think they didn't follow up their lobbying with cold hard corporate dollars. Either that or you are watching too much Fux News.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

What happens during a prolonged power outage?

Your email isn't gonna do it. The postal service must remain a viable entity when (not if) this happens. Considering all the businesses that rely on the post office, it is a Trillion dollar enterprise. And the employees of all these businesses, plus postal employees themselves amount to millions of dollars spent in our economy.

To those who think privatizing the post office - I hope you don't live in a rural area.

The Post Office creed is, " Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

To the post office, we, as customers are treated equally. From the high volume companies to little old gramma living at the end of a dirt road.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Now, if they could just

Now, if they could just figure out how to stop losing $42 million a day, we could all have cookies and warm milk before tucking in at night.

Bob Woodbury's picture

Collins, Pingree, Michaud, King...

...you can DO something about it by modifying, or eliminating, the absolutely stupid and absurd retirement mandate Congress has imposed on USPS.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Exactly!

One wonders why they don't do it. I think they are not well informed, or too lazy to tackle the job.

It might be informative to see who has accepted campaign money from UPS and Fed X, both of which lobbied for the retirement mandate.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

A long long time

A long long time in every part of the country there were people living in remote places. Places that were a journey to get to town from (think horse and buggy here). USPS was their gateway to the world. A great many people would have never known about a lot of major events until a considerable amout of time had passed. There fore getting their letters, packages, and newspapers delivered fast was a priority.

As recently as the Vietnam war you had a big time lapse between the events of the war, and it being reported here via television news. Remember live via satelite shown on the TV screen in the late 60's and 70's. During the Gulf War you could ride along with the troops while they were fighting the war live.
There really was a need for letters and newspapers to be delivered in a timely fashion. However times have changed. When was the last time you got a hand written letter from a loved one? Think about what you get in the mail now. Monthly bills, plenty of junk mail and what else. Nothing you couldn't wait until monday to receive.

A few years ago the people of Bryant Pond (officially Woodstock) fought to save the crank. They were the last place in the country to have operator assisted calls for every call they made. Was it quaint of course it was. Was it efficent of course it wasn't.

What I'm trying to say here is the times have changed, and we changed with the times.

As for saturday delivery and many remote USPS do we really need either and/or could we not get along without them?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

They jack up the price of a

They jack up the price of a stamp to 46 cents and THEN, they decide to cut out Saturday mail delivery. Nice...

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Get real......

The price we pay for mailing a letter is cheap. You ought to see what it costs in other countries.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Get real yourself. We don't

Get real yourself. We don't live in other countries; we live here. Typical lib response, always with their noses in other people's wallets.

Jeff Johnson's picture

I wasn't trying to get

I wasn't trying to get political with this one... but yeah. Typical liberal response.

The post office is poorly run, poorly managed, and consistently loses money. That's a recipe for closing. Until recently a business in that situation would have to shut the doors... now it gets bailed out by the government...

Let it get privatized. The company that takes it over will make it more efficient, raise the prices so that it won't lose money, and probably create a model that works.

The USPS is a business, not a social service. Its purpose is to make money, not deliver the mail. Even back in the days of the pony express, it was developed to make the original investors money.

FedEx and UPS don't deliver packages for the greater good of humainity... they do it to make money.

I've been an executive with both FedEx and UPS starting in the late 1980s, and am amazed at the amount of change I've seen with both companies, and how they've adapted to the internet, B2C economy, and the shrinking of the globe. Not so much with the USPS.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The Federal Government's

The Federal Government's handling of how the USPS is run is exactly why they should not be allowed to run a National Health Care Program.

Bob White's picture

Well Ms. Moore your facts

Well Ms. Moore your facts about the pre paid maybe correct however the fact you mentioned privatizing the post office is kind of a good idea. Lets think this through we have companies already doing deliveries (UPS Fedex to only a couple) that are very competitive so my thought is if the privatized post office starts getting out of hand maybe these other companies would step into the market. Competiton is always a good thing. A private company has to be paid enough to make money however we as buyers of their product have the right not to buy thier products. Apperantly the post office needs to raise thier prices a lot to cover the 16 BILLION dollar lost a year for whatever reason.
You can quote things from the pass to impress people and point fingers all you want but at the end of the day that has never solved problems.

Jeff Johnson's picture

competition

FedEx already carries a large percentage of USPS priority and international mail... it wouldn't be much of a stretch for them to start carrying more of their deferred mail.

The problem would be for FedEx and UPS to adjust their systems to handle letter-sized envelopes. Neither company is set up for that.

Both UPS and FedEx have a service (UPS Basic and FedEx SmartPost) that utilizes the company's ground network to deliver packages to the local post office for the post office to deliver the last mile. I can envision a trimmed down, privatized USPS that uses other carriers to transport letters/packages between Post Offices, and the post office only delivers locally.

Thomas Hamilton's picture

Get rid of the junk

Maybe if they could charge all the business that us the USPO to distribute advertisement the full cost of delivery they might get a balanced budget. All the junk mail I get cost very little to send through the mail, yet it cost just as much to deliver as a first class letter.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Excellent point.

Excellent point.

Bob White's picture

Foolish lets not fix the real

Foolish lets not fix the real reason. What does a business do when its not making money? It doesnt cut back hours they cut people or close places. We dont need post offices that only cater to a few people. We need to centralize our post offices the day of needing a post office in every small town ( even a couple ) are gone. But instead of fixiing the problem we will continue to kick the can down the road. Things have changed and we need to change our ways and to do that will take some tuft choices. We all talk about our problems nobody wants to do anything about it. A great man once told me this " everybody wants to go to haven but nobody wants to die" everybody wants to save money and cut cost but nobody wants to scarifice anything.Till we change we will never see things getting better.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Did you even read the article?

On Dec. 8, 2006, in the last day of the lame duck session, about 10:30 at night,the 109th congress concluded its business with the adoption of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act without any debate or roll call vote. Voice only vote in the Senate, I believe. Anyway, included in this "Act" was a provision that postal service retirement benefits be PRE-PAID, OUT TO 75 YEARS IN THE FUTURE! AND, ALL THIS PRE-PAYMENT MUST BE MADE IN 10 YEARS.

That means 5.8 BILLION due Sept. 30th every year. FOR POSTAL EMPLOYEES WHO HAVEN'T EVEN BEEN BORN YET!

Now why do you think they did this? To destroy the postal service so that it can be privatized. Just to put that in perspective, many jobs in the military were privatized and we are paying three times what it used to cost to get these jobs done.(Thanks, Halliburton) Once the postal service is privatized you can bet your bippy it's gonna cost a whole lot more for a stamp, just for starters. And sending a package, (think eBay or Amazon) will be cost prohibitive.

The postal service does not use one cent of taxpayer's money. I would be self-sustaining, in fact, about 2 to 3 billion in the black, if it wasn't for this mandate to pay up front for 75 years. What other business or department has been forced to do this? Would you like it if you had a business? No.

One last thing, as soon as the postal service is privatized, the rates for ALL carriers will skyrocket.

So you can thank the Republican controlled 109th, and especially Representative Tom Davis, R - Virginia for being the sponsor of this draconian Act.

And you can thank the postmaster general, Donahoe, for being a coward. Instead of fighting for his department, he is cow-towing, making cuts, and not explaining to the public why they are in such a mess. I'll bet he has a nice cushy job at UPS or Fed X when he leaves.

And all that money paid into the retirement fund? Think black hole.

John Goddard's picture

% 100 correct

Not only are you absolutey informed, and correct. The Darrlell Isa plan was influenced by big donors, UPS, and Fed ex. They invest, and gop rigs it so they profit more from their laws. So much for the gop concern about jobs. They are more full of bull '''' than a herders barn !!! Of course they all keep stepping in it, and blame the smell on the democrates.

Jeff Johnson's picture

FedEx

FedEx Ground Home Delivery does residential service on Saturdays. Just Sayin'.

Andrew Jones's picture

Indeed!

Indeed!

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I'm in trouble now.....

This will really screw up my "Netflix" schedule......

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