The U.S. Postal Service will discontinue Saturday mail a part of a large plan to cut costs. The change is scheduled for Aug. 1, and would halt the delivery of letters and standard mail on Saturdays, although packages would still be delivered as normal. Ending Saturday mail service would save approximately $2 billion annually according to reports from the Postal Service, which lost over $15 billion dollars during the last fiscal year.
An official announcement from the agency is expected to come during a press conference Wednesday, along with other proposed changes to Postal Service policy. As electronic methods of communication become standard across the nation, the USPS has seen a sharp decrease in business. The agency defaulted last year after surpassing its borrowing limit with the Treasury Department.
“The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation,” Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said in a statement prepared for the Wednesday press conference.
“The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail.”
Last year, a similar proposal to end Saturday delivery was put forward to Congress, but did not reach a vote. Congress could also look to block the end of Saturday delivery without the agency’s consent. Congressional interference with the Postal Service is often viewed as one of the reasons for the agency’s fiscal woes. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the Postal Service to pay $5.5 billion into health care benefits for future retirees each year.
Financial troubles have also affected the nation’s postal workers, as the agency closed dozens of locations to cut labor costs. The American Postal Workers Union believes that ending Saturday delivery will prove more harmful for the agency in the future.
“The APWU condemns the Postal Service’s decision to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, which will only deepen the agency’s congressionally manufactured financial crisis,” union President Cliff Guffey said, according The New York Times.