Should the USPS stop one delivery day?

Cutting mail delivery is often cited as a way to cut costs, but the postal industry counters that it would adversely affect consumers. Our experts assess the potential impact of a five-day postal week

C. Hamilton Davison
Executive director, American Cataloger Mailers’ Association
Sixteen years in postal affairs

Should the USPS drop delivery days to close its budget gap? Yes, if this results in lower mailing costs. But before we risk making mail less relevant, let’s go after the low hanging fruit to reduce costs.

We can start by closing excess post offices. Do you think McDonald’s is everywhere? Well, McDonald’s has 21,000 restaurants worldwide; the USPS has 37,000 retail locations in the US alone. Isn’t it possible that we have too many post offices?

Don’t USPS managers know they could save costs by closing locations and rationalizing their network? Cer­tainly. But every time it tries to close a location, some Congressman hears from a few constituents over the loss of a “favorite” post office. When someone suggests closing a plant, postal unions scream to Congress about loss of jobs. Ironically, failing to deal with the low fruit of network rationalization puts the entire system at risk.

Here’s the new reality: mailers cannot bear increasing costs — especially in this environment. Congress wants the USPS to operate more like a business, and made this clear in 2006 reform leg­islation. Congress must free the USPS to make the sensible choices to rational­ize their cost structure unfettered by political concerns.

After the low fruit has been plucked, if reducing delivery days to Americans is the only way to keep the system com­petitive, then it too must be considered.

William Burrus

President, American Postal Workers Union
More than 50 years experience in the postal industry

Proposals to reduce mail delivery from six days per week to five have gained renewed momentum recently, but this is a bad idea – one that is driven almost exclusively by a political agenda.

The effort should more appropriately be titled “the reduction in the receipt of mail from six days to five” — but whatever the name, anticipated savings could be illusory. If such a reduction leads to an increase in Priority, Regis­tered, Certified, FedEx, or UPS deliver­ies, customer costs would increase, and productivity would decline.

Service on the sixth day would be offered by private entities, so any energy savings contemplated by reduced postal consumption would be replaced by alternative delivery. Costs would increase proportionally.

And, how would the Postal Service record compliance with its service goals if the non-delivery day falls within the period of delivery? Would mail that is now expected in two days be converted to a three-day standard?

The receipt of medicines, legal docu­ments, official notices and personal notes would all be adversely affected by an increase in the number of non-delivery days. When combined with a holiday and weekend, the reduction of one delivery day could become three days of non-delivery.

This change would begin the process of dismantling the United States Postal Service, which is the primary objective of those who advance this terrible idea.

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Davison argues that cutting mail delivery would make sense if it actually lowered delivery costs. However, he suggests several other cost-cutting options to be tried first. Burrus points out that cutting any cost savings may be illusionary and that cutting a delivery day may impact receipt of medicines, legal documents and other official notices.

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