The management of the US Postal Service has proposed a drastic and irreversible reduction in first-class mail delivery standards. Currently 41.5 percent of first-class mail is delivered in one day, 26.6 percent in two days, and 31.6 percent in three days. The proposal would eliminate one-day delivery altogether. Two-day deliveries would increase to 50.6 percent and three-day to 49.1 percent. The proposed increase in delivery time would be devastating to the many individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs who rely on first-class mail.
The proposal, the stated goal of which is to “bring operating costs in line with revenues,” would enable the USPS to eliminate 60 percent of the USPS’s processing-and-distribution plants, purportedly to cut costs. But the presumed savings are actually quite small (only $3 billion, or 4 percent of the USPS’s annual budget). All the mail would still have to be delivered. It would just have to be hauled farther to be processed, thus increasing fuel costs and the commensurate harm to the environment.
The possibility of raising revenues by increasing prices and expanding services is never mentioned. Bowing to pressure from the Direct Marketing Association, the postal service recently withdrew a request for an “exigent rate increase.” The USPS charges direct mailers less than what it costs to deliver their advertising mail, so in essence the direct mailers are stealing from the USPS with each piece of mail they send. Regarding the withdrawal of the proposed rate increase, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe exclaimed that the direct mailing industry is “way too fragile” to survive a price increase. Clearly, the health of that industry is more important to him than the health of the USPS.
In its projection of the effects of the proposed change in service standards, the USPS does not even mention the American people. It lists only the possible effects on “commercial mailers.” Noncommercial mailers—citizens, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and rural communities—are not given even the slightest consideration.
Because the reduction in service standards would enable the USPS to dismantle its extraordinary processing-and-distribution network, a return to the current service standards would be impossible, thus permanently undermining the USPS’s ability to serve the American people, further reducing mail volume and postal revenues, and further imperiling the US Postal Service itself. The vast majority of the American people won’t fully realize the effects of the proposed reduction in service until it’s too late.
The notice in the Federal Register invites comments from the public between now and October 21, 2011. Letters may be sent to Manager, Industry Engagement and Outreach, United States Postal Service, 475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW – Room 4617, Washington, DC 20260, or e-mailed to email@example.com.
In hopes of gathering more signatures, we have created a petition at Change.org calling for retention of the current first-class service standards. We have less than two weeks to gather as many signatures as possible. Please sign the petition and write your own letter, and ask others to do the same. Once USPS management’s proposal is accepted, there will be no turning back.