Sanders: There’s No Need to End Saturday Mail Delivery

Op-ed piece by Senator Bernie Sanders in the Wall Street Journal:US Postal Service Carrier

The U.S. Postal Service is one of our most popular and important government agencies. It provides universal service six days a week to every corner of America, no matter how small or remote. It supports millions of jobs in virtually every other sector of our economy. It provides decent-paying union jobs to some 500,000 Americans, and it is the largest employer of veterans.

Whether you are a low-income elderly woman living at the end of a dirt road in Vermont or a wealthy CEO living on Park Avenue, you get your mail six days a week. And you pay for this service at a cost far less than anywhere else in the industrialized world.

Yet the Postal Service is under constant and vicious attack. Why? The answer is simple. There are very powerful and wealthy special interests who want to privatize or dismember virtually every function that government now performs, whether it is Social Security, Medicare, public education or the Postal Service. They see an opportunity for Wall Street and corporate America to make billions in profits out of these services, and couldn’t care less how privatization or a degradation of services affects ordinary Americans.

For years, antigovernment forces have been telling us that there is a financial crisis at the Postal Service and that it is going broke. That is not true. The crisis is manufactured.

At the insistence of the Bush administration, Congress in 2006 passed legislation that required the Postal Service to prefund, over a 10-year period, 75 years of future retiree health benefits. This onerous and unprecedented burden–$5.5 billion a year–is responsible for all of the financial losses posted by the Postal Service since October 2012.

Without prefunding, the Postal Service would have made a $623 million profit last year. Excluding the prefunding mandate, the Postal Service estimates it will make more than $1 billion in profits this year. This is not surprising, since the Postal Service made a combined profit of $9 billion from 2003-06, before the prefunding mandate took effect.

The mandate allows the antigovernment crowd to proclaim that the Postal Service “is going bankrupt.” Their solution is to slash hundreds of thousands of jobs, close thousands of post offices, eliminate hundreds of mail processing plants, end Saturday mail, and substantially slow down mail delivery.

In the House, Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) passed a bill through his committee that would do all of these things. The bill would drive more customers to seek other options and will lead to a death spiral–lower-quality service, fewer customers, more cuts, less revenue and eventually the destruction of the Postal Service.

In the Senate, Sens. Tom Carper (D., Del.) and Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) also passed a postal reform bill through the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. While not as destructive as the House proposal, the Carper-Coburn bill could lead to the loss of about 100,000 jobs, allow the Postal Service to eliminate six-day mail delivery, substantially slow down the delivery of mail, and lead to the loss of more mail processing plants and post offices within the next few years.

There are much better ideas that would strengthen, not destroy the Postal Service, and they are in the Postal Service Protection Act that has been introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.) in the House and by me in the Senate. The House bill has 174 co-sponsors. The Senate bill has 27 co-sponsors.

First, prefunding must end. The future retiree health fund now has some $50 billion in it. That is enough. This step alone will restore the Postal Service to profitability.

Second, the Postal Service should have the flexibility to provide new consumer products and services–a flexibility that was banned by Congress in 2006. It is now against the law for workers in post offices to notarize or make copies of documents; to cash checks; to deliver wine or beer; or to engage in e-commerce activities (like scanning physical mail into a PDF and sending it through e-mail, selling non-postal products on the Internet or offering a non-commercial version of Gmail).

A recent report from the Postal Service Inspector General suggests that almost $9 billion a year could be generated by providing financial services. At a time when more than 80 million lower-income Americans have no bank accounts or are forced to rely on rip-off check-cashing storefronts and payday lenders, these kinds of financial services would be of huge social benefit.

It is time for Congress to save the Postal Service, not dismantle it.

Mr. Sanders is an independent senator from Vermont.

 

  • Ryan Kuwahara

    Shut it old man… End Saturday now

    • Dave

      If u don’t like working sat. Get a different job

      • freecountry

        Good call Dave. But I’m sure he’d rather whine than step up and lead by example.

    • Itchy Feet

      Five Day All The Way!!

      • Uncle Bob

        Six day is here to stay!

      • sickofidiots

        This is either another lazy Carrier, or a young butthead who has no friends that send him mail, so he gets only junk mail and is too lazy to go to the mailbox to get only junk mail. My guess is that both of these guys are YOUNG and highly uneducated, or members of the Issa family?

    • sickofidiots

      You must be a moron, or a LAZY Carrier. Butthead, if they end Saturday delivery, they will cut thousands of Carrier jobs, which would put MORE Americans out of work! How many businesses do you think want to deal with the USPS if they cannot mail something on Friday and the receiver get it by Monday or Saturday? Do you honestly think they want to wait for service? This would also lead to a change in hours at processing plants, which means the USPS will find a way to cut thousands of jobs as well! This will lead more customers to other means to get their mail or packages out!

      • common sense

        No, they’re just ignorant self-centered scabs.

  • not living the dream

    We can’t get the mail delivered in 6 days in my installation – first class letters and flats, plus second class flats are still waiting to be sorted daily when the city and rural carriers are leaving to deliver their routes. The current push for management is to get the items that can be scanned to the carriers – everything else is curtailed. Management’s excuse is “we don’t have enough clerks to sort the mail and/or the mail was late from the plant”
    This obsession with cutting Saturday delivery is just a ploy to further destroy America’s Postal Service. At the same time the USPS has implemented delivering parcels on Sundays in several cities with more cities to be added.
    I myself have worked as a letter carrier for the USPS for over 27 years. I am becoming totally disgusted with our government on the crisis of the USPS which was created by Congress to began with. The USPS was never intended to make a profit – it is a federal entity of the federal government that is self sustaining on the sell of it’s products and service. The USPS does not receive any tax payer dollars, yet there are many in Congress and the media that would like the public to believe otherwise.
    Instead of just removing the pre-funding requirement there are those in Congress and the public that definitely want the USPS to become a private corporation. It is all about money, we as American citizens do not matter – the only thing that is important to the likes of Issa is more money in their own pocket. Enough is enough.
    This is not really about cutting Saturday delivery – it’s about destroying the USPS, your benefits, your retirement and nothing to look forward to for current and future employees of the USPS. I love how someone making three times as much as me and working a quarter of the hours I do yearly making decisions for my survival.
    As far of those of you who do not want to work Saturdays please quit and go get a job somewhere else – you are right in there with Issa that want to destroy America’s Postal Service. Maybe everything in the country can be closed on Saturdays – grocery stores, gas stations, hospitals to name a few – maybe those workers don’t want to work Saturdays either. But then again those employees may get it like I do if you don’t provide the service you won’t be in business, and there are others that are willing to provide the service at a cost.
    The door has been opened now of the future of the USPS because of the pre-funding requirement – everything and I mean everything is on the table now. I pray we survive this attack on the hard working employees of the USPS!

  • ajayon

    One of the best reasons for 6 day delivery if not 7 is that carriers can interact with their postal patrons in the event of local or national crisis. For instance back during the anthrax scare it was shown that letter carriers could deliver medications to everyone on their routes to help. Carriers who participate would already have the medication for their families. Letter carriers have the ability if used wisely to be a great asset to help during many other situations due to our daily contact with and trust by the public. Congress seems to forget that the Postal Service is a public service just the same as any other essential Public service.

  • a concerned carrier

    Why is it never mentioned that this year aprox 6 billion $ will be spent on overtime . If we just hired some people full time competent people customer service would improve and we really would be the postal SERViCE once more . 31 years and gonna retire soon because just can not stand to see the destruction of a great place!

  • jim

    the president endorses 5 day and so do i !!!!! how about we hire thousands of cca and eliminate all ot for carriers. these carriers want 6 day for the ot.eliminate there ot and you will here the wining

    • BigBob

      Brilliant idea, idiot – why not eliminate the entire letter carrier craft and contract out the job and pay them minimum wage with no benefits.

    • freecountry

      As usual you are horribly misinformed. Or ignorant! I am not on the OT list and I don’t want to lose 6 day delivery because of the loss of good paying, middle class jobs among fellow employees. So I won’t be “wining.” For you to make an ignorant statement like that you must be a far right wing wack job who likes the GOP and $10 jobs for all!!!

  • Bill

    As a CCA when I agreed to the job I knew I was going to work 6 days a week. When you all took the job you knew that you were going to work Saturday’s. Why take the job if you did not want to work Saturday’s. Now if Saturday’s are eliminated what is stopping the PMG in a few years stating that 1st class mail has dropped below a certain threashold and now we will deliver mail 4 days a week. Now all of sudden your full time job has now become a part-time job because you are now scheduled to work 32 hours per week. Now how will you pay your monthly household expenses with a part time job. Think about it.

    • freecountry

      Now here is a CCA with more brains than the career employee!

  • Nemso

    Bernie for President!