24 Senators tell PMG he can’t end Saturday delivery (and ask what suddenly gave him the idea that he could!)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of 24 senators, led by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, are challenging the postmaster general’s authority to discontinue Saturday mail delivery later this year without congressional approval.

In a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, the senators acknowledge the financial challenges the Postal Service is facing and urge him to work with Congress to address these problems through bipartisan reform, such as the Senate legislation passed last year.

They also point out that a shift to five-day service could lead to further declines in mail volume and revenues, worsening the U.S. Postal Service’s overall condition.

Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Tom Harkin, Al Franken, Jeff Merkley, Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, Mark Begich, Ron Wyden, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown, Max Baucus, Bernie Sanders, Jeanne Shaheen, Mazie Hirono, Joe Manchin, Jack Reed, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse, Michael Bennet, Mark Udall, Brian Schatz and Heidi Heitkamp sent the letter to the postmaster today.

They note that recently the Postal Service itself has recognized it lacks the power to terminate six-day service.

“[A]s recently as last year, the Postal Service did not believe it had the authority to end six-day delivery without legislative action by Congress. For example, in the USPS’s ‘Plan for Profitability,’ released on February 6, 2012, savings for five-day delivery were categorized under the heading of ‘legislative initiatives’,” they wrote.

“Furthermore, you personally delivered testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on September 6, 2011 where you noted that ‘Congress must act … [to] allow the Postal Service the authority to determine delivery frequency.’”

They also point out the move is a violation of existing law under the Continuing Appropriations Resolution of 2012.

“[W]e believe your proposal does not comply with the existing statutory requirement to continue six-day delivery and rural delivery mail services at no less than the 1983 levels. ”

Such a move would impact 70,000 jobs and negatively affect the rural communities they represent.

“With the national unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, moving to five-day delivery will hurt middle class families,” they said.

The text of the letter is below:

February 15, 2013

Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General & Chief Executive Officer
United States Postal Service (USPS)
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, D.C. 200260

Dear Postmaster General:

We write to express our concerns regarding the recent announcement that the Postal Service intends to end Saturday mail delivery service later this year. We understand the Postal Service faces serious financial challenges, and we remain committed to working with you to find a solution to the Postal Service’s long-term financial viability as we did last year to pass bipartisan postal reform legislation through the Senate. However, we believe a piecemeal strategy that focuses on cutting services and forgoes a critical competitive advantage is not the solution. Instead, we need a comprehensive postal reform bill that allows the Postal Service to modernize while protecting its crucial obligations and services.

First, we believe your proposal does not comply with the existing statutory requirement to continue six-day delivery and rural delivery mail services at no less than the 1983 levels. As such it is in violation of P.L. 112-175, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, which extends the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, P.L. 112-74. Section 101(a) of P.L. 112-175 specifically extends the funding levels of the FY12 appropriations law, “under the authority and conditions provided” in the previous funding resolution, except as otherwise stated in the CR. The CR does not contain language abrogating the FY12 provision, which requires the USPS to maintain six-day delivery.

It appears that as recently as last year, the Postal Service did not believe it had the authority to end six-day delivery without legislative action by Congress. For example, in the USPS’s “Plan for Profitability,” released on February 6, 2012, savings for five-day delivery were categorized under the heading of “legislative initiatives.” Furthermore, you personally delivered testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on September 6, 2011 where you noted that “Congress must act … [to] allow the Postal Service the authority to determine delivery frequency.”Accordingly, we request that you provide a detailed legal justification for this proposed change.

It is our understanding that this change is driven by an effort to reduce costs. However, it is unclear that the shift to five-day service will benefit USPS in the long-term. In fact, a 2012 USPS-commissioned survey found that service cuts resulting in a 7.7 percent reduction in volume will lead to a $5.2 billion loss in revenue the first year alone. Similarly, an earlier 2011 GAO report found that moving to five-day service would put mail volumes and revenues at risk. In other words, it could help push the USPS further down the spiral. Specifically, GAO noted that USPS may have overestimated savings by as much as $500 million and that USPS may have underestimated the reduction in volume likely under five-day service. Businesses that currently utilize USPS services have raised concerns that reducing services will decrease the value of mail, especially periodicals who stated that they “will most likely accelerate shifting their hard copy mail to electronic communications or otherwise stop using USPS if it is unable to provide reliable service as a result of these changes.”

Importantly, moving to five-day service will result in the loss of approximately 70,000 jobs. Of these, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association projects that a minimum of 20,000 would affect rural communities. With the national unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, moving to five-day delivery will hurt middle class families.

The change to five-day service is not simply a move to deliver mail on the next day; it will require an overhaul of mail collection and processing times that may affect estimated savings and hurt USPS in the long-term. The Postal Service has made several other unilateral decisions, such as terminating overnight mail delivery in the Midwest and Mountain West and accelerating consolidations that run the risk of making the Service irrelevant in large portions of the country. With members of Congress making progress on a comprehensive bill, further changes would set the precedent for a piecemeal approach and potentially further delay much needed legislation. We urge you to reconsider your decision and not take this action unless authorized by Congress.

  • Penny

    I would have to say Mr. Donahue got the idea from Obama. Obama doesn’t think he has to go through congress to make changes either.

    • Edward Redmon

      Spoken like a true right wing extremist.

      • jim

        Spoken like a true sheep, Head down and mouth closed. You’ll do what they tell you and like it!

      • http://www.facebook.com/brett.quinn.3 Brett Quinn

        Penny is absolutely right.obama thinks he’s a king that can do what he wants.i understand that Obama is a god to you liberals but come on!

      • mary

        Say “Baaaah” Edward.

      • sandy

        ya right wing

    • Rich

      Right on Penny, the truth does hurt our friends on the left. When they are forced to face reality they resort to name calling. The truth just gets in their way.

    • sandy

      abe lincoln did the same thing

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Herbert-Abrams/100003089904466 Herbert Abrams

    I have been a Letter Carrier since 1984.

    One of the problems with the Post Office is yes current Management.

    I hear the moans, believe me there are a few Letter Carriers I would like to see elsewhere.

    However at this point in time Carriers are working huge amounts overtime. The reason even has some well reason. Management has not hired new Carriers as they thought many clerk employees would transfer over to the carrier craft as their own jobs were done away with. This is still ongoing by the way with plant consolidation etc.

    Not always but for a large part of my 28 years Management and my Union, the NALC have one way or the other worked at and cooperated on ‘adjusting’ our routes. Counting the mail and measuring how long it takes to carry them. Most of us have at least 8 hours work all 6, SIX days. No doubt there will be a little more saving than I think, and I think less than the USPS thinks. What the Postmaster General bases this particular number on I do not know.
    I know the same amount of mail has to be put in the truck and delivered. I know that the larger amount of mail on one less day is going to be at overtime rates, or they will have to put more routes carried by additional carriers back on the street. Smart??

    Within the last year Management back out of a national agreement on measuring and adjusting carrier routes. On how to handle differences in data on the few that they could not agree on. Yes they back out on adjusting 180,000 over the data on 180. Smart??

    The last two years or so we have been told to take every piece of mail on Monday our busiest day. We used to, ‘curtail’, ads catalogs, mail the sender asked to be delivered later in the week.
    But so one individual could show they could get all the mail delivered on Monday, we pay time and half wages pretty much all the time on Monday to do so. Now pretty regularly we pay Double time to do so. SMART???

    Ask you Congressional to explain that.

    • jeff

      im union Pres local 997 im filing at least 20 to 30 grievances a week class action on over time + im meeting with a labor lawyer tomorrow about harassment on DOIS that mang. cant use against us but they are. the suit we are looking in to bring against the USPS is a civil case not a union case we just need to stop mang. there is 90% of the waste in the postoffice work us over time when they have PTF or TE at home then they pay us for the overtime pay the PTF at home then they pay us again for working us how stupid is all that like you was saying thanks again

      • Just Joe

        I hope your grievance writing is better than your posting style. Grammar and punctuation matter, just sayin.

        • Anthony

          You must be a scab

          • sandy

            go scabs..out with the union

  • guess who

    when was the last time congress did anything for anybody but themselves?

  • jim

    Has anyone considered the fact that maybe the postmaster general is looking at a bigger prize? If he ruins the postal service now, he can be picked up by a “private” company that will come in and offer to do the same service. Not a bad deal for the guy helping out the new service provider getting put into place by default, aye. It happens in the public sector all the time. Toll roads get sold or leased to private companies. Indiana’s bmv is a privatized company. The Governor saw to it that it happened, claiming that it would reduce the states burden. Now we are depended upon a company to do what the law requires of us at their financial discretion. They want to cut out offices and do everything electronically. Just wait and see what the postmaster general does, I hope I’m wrong but something smells fishy!

    • Toscano

      You are not WRONG my friend if you only KNEW !

  • Just the Facts

    What the hell is the PMG to do? Wait for congress to pass a bill? By setting the date for delivery change in August the PMG has given congress ample time to get off their dead asses and pass a bill to fix the damage done by congress with the PAEA of 2006.

  • Bill

    Across the board pay cuts and employees need to pay more on thyre benifits. Or increase the cost of stamps charge more to ups when deliving packages just charge more for everything.Dont really care i still have mail box for 2 days. I get one bill a month everything eles goes in the trash.

  • Toscano

    The USPS CEO’s. did this to the. USPS years ago by putting the profits in their bank accounts by way of. Bonus,s. In one year alone they paid out $369,000,000.00 in bonus’s to management. The. President of the United States gets a salary of $400,000.00 a year. Why does the PMG thinks he. As only one CEO deserves $324,000.00 a year plus. Bonus s and parking and travel per dimes. Plus the Christmas bonus he refers to as “performance pay”. All managers and supervisors get “performance pay” across the U.S. Guam ,Alaska, Hawaii,Puerto Rico,and the Virgin Islands. I personally showed them on calculator and on paper how to save $90,000,000.00 a year and they rejected it. The letter carriers brought in billions from customer connect profit . The Congress needs to demand a 45% cut in CEO salary pay. A Senator only gets paid $ 174,000.00 a year. congress also needs to demand a CONGRESSIONAL audit by a Congressional auditor not the USPS auditor. These salary cuts also. Include the Board of Govenors that state in their policy they can give themselves a raise. Equal to
    120 % of the Vice Presidents salary Why are they going Broke ?? Plain Greed and selfishness for themselves in their retirement. Congress should have him removed w/o a pension …just …fired! Without a pension or benefits and then start on the Board of Govenors. How dare he fail to reach an contract with the. Letter Carriers that serve this nation for a year and a half and then only give them a thirty cent raise. Postal employees. Across the nation are signing petitions asking for his removal from office.

    • Vandybgood

      I’ll most certainly sign.. I am a non career PMLR who puts in so many extra hours without pay I can’t count. So do many others I know. Career and non career.

      At 62 I am doing it for the sake of all concerned. But this
      latest move has me so upset I can’t speak.

      6’4’& 2 hrs to operate a post office was bad enough. Anyone
      with a brain knows it will doom the post offices ability to function as it needs to.

      It, of course, is just another way to shut them down. A little
      honesty would have been nice. Why didn’t they just spell it
      out. After one year an audit will be conducted on these
      already stripped operation. When they fail to produce and
      they will those post offices will be shut down.

      Now that’s a truth that the nation should know. What’s
      next dismantling America as a whole.

      As I said I’ll sign, I only wish I could do more.

      Jane VanDeMark-PMLR

  • Gayle K

    Thanks for consider the letter carriers that will lose their jobs. Congress needs to know what the bonuses are for all management….there is to much management in the post office. Letter Carriers know their jobs and do it without managers

  • Toscana

    Postal employees retire with 46+ years of service and all they get is a letter saying thank you for your service after busting their ass making management look good to THEIR boss. Employees retiring don’t even get a used $2.00 Timex watch or a visit from the District Manager or the City PostMaster. That letter means as much as a few sheets of Charming, nothing but an insult and a slap in the face, but the PMG can get a $324,000.00 salary. Plus bennies a year !!!!
    That is how they treat us and if the public only knew how sexually corrupt the USPS is they would be appalled.!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.roach.94 Jim Roach

    The Senate acted, then the House wouldn’t. Something has to be done. I don’t like the PMG either, but at least he got the attention of Congress. Managements own magazines say you can get rid of the Area layer of management. The Districts can easily report directly to HQ. That would be an entire level of unneeded management. CCA’s from the new contract are going to cut costs also.

  • Guest

    Ive worked for the USPS for 25years. Ive driven tractor trailer midnight shift out of St.Louis, MO as a casual, I delivered mail as a TE, then a PTF, then I worked midnight shift as a PTF clerk. I worked as a 204B, then plant Supv, then PM at level 16, now PM at level 18. Every single day of my career I have given it everything I had. I appreciate the opportunity and I am grateful for my job. If every employee would stop blaming everyone else for the USPS problems, and start spending their energy doing their own job, we would all be alot better off. Instead of blaming your team, leave your energy on the field. Life is too short to be anything less. Be the employee others aspire to be. To improve our moral, our reputation with the public, and your value to this organization. I love my employees because at the end of the day, we all celebrate our success together. Every person is valuable and we work as a team. If I had an employee constantly complaining about this that and the other, I would push back because all they do is focus on the negative. Guess what? Life os not fair. We cant all win the lottery or have wealthy family. Some of us have to work for a living. Why attempt to make everyones life around you so miserable and unhappy. It spreads like cancer. Go to work, do your job the best you can and appreciate the job you still have, for now. It will get much worse before it gets better. You can choose to lead like a champ, or act like a dog. Right now we need champs. Leave it on the field.

    • BILL

      what if you have a PM who forgets where he game from and is not interested in working as part of a team?. In that instance, wouldn’t you think that, at least, some of the employee complaints re: management would be justified?

      • Guest

        You can complain about me. I can complain about you. You can complain about your boss and I can complain about mine. We can all complain. There are plenty of things in this world to complain about. You boss has a job. He answers to his boss. And so on and so on. Does anyone like it? Of course not. We would all love to work in the land of Oz. Unfortunately, thats not our reality. Everyone is under alot of pressure. Just make sure when you walk out the door every night, you have no regrets. You did your best that day, to the best of your ability to make the USPS proud. I tell my employees everyday, thank you, I appreciate you. Because I do. They do all the work. Im only the coach. It is very rewarding to work where you are appreciated. The only one not appreciated in that building by upper management, is me. Dont let your boss effect your attitude. Its not worth it. The only one you have to answer to, is you. If your satisfied and you did your best, thats all the USPS can ask for. Enjoy your day off tomorrow. You earned it.

  • David Smith

    i’ll tell you what senator..I’ll work your hours..and you can work here six days a week.. done deal..

  • postal blue

    If the postal service cuts down to five-day delivery and eliminates first-class overnight delivery: we should all blame Bush.

  • jeff

    wow great job to the senate its about time somebody stands up to him and i would like to say there are alot of middle class people that vote about 80% i would say so lets just say i hope people look at who is standing up for the people unlike Darrell Issa (R-CA) who needs ran right out of office

  • Brad

    Actually the slogan was an interpretation by a Harvard professor from a text by Herodotus twentyfive hundred years ago describing the Persian system of mail delivery.

  • delmos

    I suppose this means that 76 senators think he can.

  • No Saturday Delivery

    All 24 senators are extremely STUPID!!!