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Letter to the Editor: June 25

Jun. 24, 2012 - 12:23PM   |  
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Six-day delivery

Your June 18 news break, “Senate bill requires six-day postal delivery,” misled on a matter critical to millions of residents and businesses. You wrote that a Senate appropriations bill would require six-day delivery; in fact, that’s already the law. You said this would “overturn” a provision in Senate postal legislation allowing the agency to go to five-day delivery; but that’s backwards. Legislation can seek to overturn current law; not the reverse.

And in this instance there’s no immediate conflict: The appropriations bill deals with next year, while the reform bill would allow a possible shift to five-day delivery in two years if the postmaster general can justify such a request.

More significant is ensuring that your readers understand six-day delivery’s importance. The postmaster general says that Saturday delivery costs the Postal Service $3 billion a year. In declining to back dropping Saturday delivery, the Postal Regulatory Commission determined that dropping Saturday would save at best $1.7 billion a year. That means the Postal Service would sacrifice 17 percent of its service to save 3 percent of its budget, an irrational business formula.

The PRC also stated that ending Saturday delivery would particularly hurt the elderly, rural populations, people needing medicines on weekends and small businesses — creators of 80 percent of all new jobs — that need to send and receive financial documents on weekends. Compelling them to contract with expensive private carriers would impose new costs on them, leading to higher prices.

Dropping Saturday delivery would be destructive to the Postal Service itself, which receives no taxpayer money. Degrading service will drive people away from the mail and thereby reduce revenues.

Moreover, Saturday delivery is a key to the agency’s future. When the Postal Service announced a $200 million operational profit delivering the mail in fiscal 2012’s first quarter, it cited a rise in delivering Internet-ordered goods. Capitalizing on that expanding market is critical. The best day to deliver packages: Saturday, when people are home.

The Postal Service needs a business plan, not a congressional dismantling of the world’s best delivery network.

— Fredric Rolando, president, National Association of Letter Carriers, Washington

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