Locals react to Saturday postal stoppage

Proposal would eliminate service starting in August
2013-02-06T19:49:00Z 2013-02-06T19:50:17Z Locals react to Saturday postal stoppageHOWARD YUNE Napa Valley Register
February 06, 2013 7:49 pm  • 

Battered by billions of dollars in losses, the U.S. Postal Service is pushing to end most Saturday deliveries starting this summer. But the future of the cost-saving measure remains murky — as well as its day-to-day effect on Napa businesses and residents.

The Postal Service announced Wednesday its intention to cease delivering and collecting first-class mail, including magazines, sales brochures and circulars, on Saturdays starting Aug. 5. The cutback would leave Americans without full six-day mail service for the first time in 150 years.

“Our financial condition is urgent,” Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe said in a Washington, D.C. news conference, where he predicted the elimination of Saturday service would save $2 billion a year.

Package deliveries would remain available on Saturdays, reflecting their role as one of the Postal Service’s few remaining growth areas. Deliveries of parcels have increased by 14 percent since 2010, even as revenue from letters and other traditional mail has plunged with the rise of email and social networks.

Postal boxes would continue to be stocked six days a week, and branches already open on Saturdays would remain so, officials said.

For some local merchants, the shrinking of the mail schedule has been a long time coming — and thus unlikely to be much of a roadblock to sales or shipments.

“I’d be sorry to see any service go, but it’s a business decision that has to be made,” said Anette Yazidi, founder of Anette’s Chocolates on First Street. “It’ll affect the convenience of residents but it won’t affect my business too much.”

The confectionery once mailed about 3,000 copies of a candy catalog twice a year, but ceased the circulars in the mid-2000s in favor of an online store to save on postage costs, she said.

On Demand Direct Mail, which produces mailers for various Napa businesses and nonprofit groups, has seen its total of mailings fall from a high of 4.5 million in 2004 to 3 million in recent years, according to Maggy Walton, the company’s direct mail manager. However, local post offices already accept commercial mail only on weekdays and the shorter schedule should have little effect on business, she said.

The reduced postal schedule, which Donohoe has proposed for several years, has faced steady opposition from postal carrier unions who have called its savings both insufficient and misaimed. Union officials instead have pointed to the fiscal drain from a 2006 Congressional requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund $55 billion of future employee medical benefits within a decade, a rule that accounted for $11.1 billion of its record $15.9 billion loss in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers from across the U.S. are scheduled to hold a special meeting this weekend in Las Vegas to decide on a strategy to fight the Saturday cutback, according to John Beaumont, president of the California State Association of Letter Carriers.

Beaumont called the Postal Service’s announcement a chance for unions to push again for an end to the advance payments — the goal of a House of Representatives bill unveiled in 2011 but yet to pass.

“I think it’ll accelerate the effort to get rid of the pre-funding,” he said. “That costs $5.2 billion a year, and they’re talking about saving $2 billion a year (from slashing Saturday delivery). Getting rid of a day makes no sense; they may save money in the short run, but in the long run they won’t replace the revenue they’ve lost.”

Outside the Postal Service’s downtown branch on Second Street, some customers showed neither surprise nor alarm at the news.

“I work Monday to Friday anyway, so we don’t deal with (weekend) mail,” said Deanna Seyler, a paralegal for a Napa law firm. “And at home there’s nothing in the mail that can’t wait.”

“I think the five-day week was inevitable,” said Lee Brock, a Napa railway engineer. “Obviously, they have to cut costs, and they can’t seem to find any other way to do it. Of course, once you cut service, more people will go online.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. napa1957
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    napa1957 - February 06, 2013 10:26 pm
    Sounds like it's a non-issue to most folks, except the union. What part of "we don't have any money" do they not get. No amound of savings is "insufficient" as quoted by the union.
  2. publiusa
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    publiusa - February 06, 2013 10:32 pm
    Last year the post office agreed not to layoff postal employees even when massive cut backs are necessary to stay in business. Now they have raised the rate to mail by another cent and they are cutting Saturday service. Raising costs and cutting service...only government can get away with this scam. I will never mail another letter. I will pay my bills on line...I will not be held hostage by employee unions. You can earn my business when you cut costs and increase service, but not the opposite. If you do not care to earn my business, then you will suffer, not me.
  3. selim_sivad
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    selim_sivad - February 07, 2013 10:12 am
    Raising costs and cutting service happens all the time in the private sector. Does Comcast ring a bell? AT&T? Heck, Verizon puts data caps in place when you PAY MORE for new technology. All costs go up and the customer gets less.

    Your anti-government tirades are unimaginative, repetitive, tiresome, and poorly thought out. Business changes. Facts of life. Bet you still can't find another company that can get a physical letter coast to coast in 3 days for under a dollar, can you?
  4. MyWrites
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    MyWrites - February 07, 2013 2:16 pm
    It was a Republican majority (2006) who put a terrible constraint on the US Postal system - pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years out into the future – basically funding benefits for future employees who aren’t even born yet and cover the costs in 10 years. Was this just badly designed law from a bunch well-intending politicians? No, it was deliberately designed to financially destroy the USP system.

    Now that we have come to this point, you will hear the conservatives start to complain that this is just another badly run US government entity and it ought to be dismantled and PRIVATIZED! We all know, of course, that private businesses can operate more profitably and efficiently while paying their employees a minimum wage. So privatization was Part 1; Part 2 is the elimination of one of our nation's largest unions.

    This isn't a Post Office problem, this is a Republican designed problem to destroy their own government. Way to go yahoos!
  5. glenroy
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    glenroy - February 09, 2013 8:54 am
    Of course...Bush's fault...nothing like mindless liberalism..Dems voted twice to remove Saddam then blamed Bush for doing what they demanded.

    The simple fact is the Postal Service has thousands of employees who do NOT even work but paid full wages & 'gifted' benefites.....that threatens the retirements of the one who do work...hint.

    Look around folks... since this state was given to the public employee, Davis in the 90s, unions, as it is with the Postal service, there is no money for books, roads, new teachers, care for returning vets because all the funds go to wages and what's left to benefits.

    What MW forgets to remember, while blaming Bush, is like our state public employee retirement funds, the letter 'carriers' are underfunded to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and rather than just pass the buck upon US the plan included funding the funds, imagine that, everyone of us fund ours, why not public employees..

    The unions said all or nothing...but they have all already.
  6. glenroy
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    glenroy - February 09, 2013 9:37 am
    Direct TV is an excellent provider...since it launched as Hughes Sat the cost to customer is a fraction of what it was and there are hundreds more stations, more being added all the time too. This is a simple, basic, example of how markets work without liberals taking a cut...the opposite of the Postal Service...to be fair all government services.
    Every Blue state is in the same boat as USPS and it's killing private sector union jobs… especially now that the phony 'green stimulus' flared out….the same thing Thompson now wants more...I wonder if he's ever had a real job?
    Just since obama took office the first time around, blue states combined are down over 5,000,000 tax paying jobs, we’re talking union private sector jobs as a large part. The city of Napa building dept and FD are so so over staffed it's ridiculous…just keep raising rates/costs until there are no tax payers...real public servants understand this...but so few of them are.
    That is what it is and that's all that it is...
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