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Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahue announced in a news conference this morning that the United States Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays starting on August 5. Forecasts indicate the move will save about two billion dollars a year. Unfortunately, that’s still just a drop in the bucket for the financially struggling company that lost $15.9 billion last year.
In the past, the Postal Service’s attempts to only deliver mail five days a week were shot down by Congress, which technically oversees the company. This time around, however, the move is already receiving bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats who are calling the move a “common sense” approach to becoming competitive in the modern economy.
According to The Wall Street Journal, an overwhelming majority of the USPS’ loses last year came from trying to fund current and future health and retirement benefits for its employees. In recent years, most companies in the private sector have moved away from costly pensions because they’re not affordable over the long-term, but the Post Office is worried about going back on its word and changing its employees to less desirable retirement plans. Unfortunately, the world is changing, and that band-aid is going to have to be ripped off sooner or later. Executives can either do it now, or they can wait a few years until their financial problems are even worse.
Everyone wants the USPS to succeed. Cutting mail (but not package delivery) on Saturdays should help. Hopefully, in the coming years, enough changes will be made to make the company once again profitable, whether they be from changing payment structures, letting post offices sell coffee and other non-mail-related items or closing inefficient branches.