U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to declare that the government-run agency will deliver to street addresses five days instead of six, as it has since 1863.
Packages will still be delivered six days a week, however.
A collection of changes — such as alternative delivery schedules, employee reassignment and attrition of staff — are expected to create an annual savings of $2 billion.
The U.S. Postal Service reported a $15.9 billion loss for the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to its website.
Not going quietly
Chris Vindiola is president of the Postal Carriers Union Tracy Branch 2854, which represents more than 40 mail carriers at Tracy’s two post office locations.
Vindiola said changing the delivery schedule is illegal without an act of Congress.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution, which is known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, gives Congress the authority “To establish Post Offices and post Roads.”
“Our union is going to fight this tooth and nail,” he said.
Fredric Rolando, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, released a statement saying the move to end letter delivery on Saturdays would be “disastrous” and result in a “profound negative effect on millions of customers.”
Rolando stated that Congress must approve the action and noted that in January, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives co-sponsored legislation to continue Saturday delivery.
Donahue, at the press conference Feb. 6, said the proposed change “reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America’s changing mail habits.”
Postal service statistics show that package delivery rose 14 percent over the past three years — and because packages such as pharmaceuticals must be delivered, officials have agreed to continue Saturday package delivery.
Saturday business hours at post office locations will not change, and P.O. boxes will still receive regular letter service on the weekend.
According to Donahoe, the Postal Service Board of Governors directed postal management in January to accelerate restructuring of the postal service.
Employees say restructuring plans have yet to be revealed.
“All kinds of waiting to see what details are coming,” said Tracy Postmaster Joe Tualla, inside the Tracy Post Office on Friday, Feb. 8. “We don’t know yet. I’m sure plans are there.”
The biggest question facing Tracy postal workers is a potential change to the workforce.
Tualla said his employees have asked him about their jobs, but the only answer he can give is Donahoe’s official announcement.
Letter carriers, who typically fill in for full-time carriers, could be replaced by city carrier associates who perform the same duties at entry-level pay.
Vindiola — who is also a fill-in carrier but would probably be spared because of his seniority — questioned whether the postal service might offer early retirement packages.
“We don’t know,” he said. “Probably by the end of March it will be real clear.”
A couple of local carriers said they favor the cuts.
Sandra Linteo, a rural carrier in Tracy, said while on her route Tuesday, Feb. 12, that she is “really happy” with the change.
Linteo said the cutback “makes sense” and that “customers will still receive basically the same service.” With the new schedule, she won’t work Saturdays, but will work longer days Monday through Friday to compensate for the lost hours.
“A lot of people don’t get their mail on Saturday,” Linteo said. “They’re usually away for the weekend. …On Saturday, a lot of businesses are closed, so we don’t do delivery anyway. So I don’t see it hurting anyone.”
Tracy residents had mixed reactions inside the Tracy Post Office on Feb. 7.
Lynda Yon said the postal service “should have done it years ago,” while Gabby Borgna said she didn’t have a problem with reducing letter delivery.
“I think it’s fine if it’s going to save money,” she said. “I don’t look at my mail on Saturday, anyway.”
But Jean Johnson was opposed to the idea.
“(I am) used to getting my mail every day,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it’s necessary to do the cutbacks.”
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