By LISA M. REED
IRON MOUNTAIN - In an effort to save $2 billion annually, the United States Postal Service will not deliver mail on Saturdays, beginning the first week in August.
Sabrina Todd, media relations with the Greater Michigan Postal Service, said that locally and nationwide magazines, cards, letters, etc. will only be delivered Monday through Friday, beginning during the week of Aug. 5.
Packages and medications and will still be delivered Monday through Saturday. Post Office Boxes will still be delivered all mail Monday through Saturday.
"This is one of the responses to address our financial crisis," Todd said. "It's mainly because of a decline in first-class mail. This is one response to that financial decision."
Post offices already open on Saturday will remain open.
The Postal Service did not make public what employee changes, if any, would be made.
Todd said that as far as the employee impact, the postal service will be communicating with respective unions and management associations regarding the transition.
Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages. However, recent strong growth in package delivery (14 percent volume increase since 2010) and projections of continued strong package growth throughout the coming decade led to the revised approach to maintain package delivery six days per week.
Todd said this is just a piece of the puzzle to help solve the Postal Service's financial situation.
"It will save $2 billion annually. This is for the Postal Service to return to long term financial stability," Todd said.
Market research conducted by the Postal Service and independent research by major news organizations indicate that nearly seven out of ten Americans supported the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs in its effort to return the organization to financial stability.
Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO, said the Postal Service is advancing a new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of the package business and response to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits.
"We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings," he said.
Post Offices remain open
As for post offices around the country reducing hours, Todd said local post offices that may be reducing hours will post that information.
Customers were surveyed and changes in hours were based upon the survey results, Todd said.
The Postal Service plans to publish specific guidance in the near future for residential and business customers about its new delivery schedule. Given the ongoing financial challenges, the Postal Service Board of Governors last month directed postal management to accelerate the restructuring of Postal Service operations in order to strengthen Postal Service finances.
"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," said Donahoe. "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."
The operational plan for the new delivery schedule anticipates a combination of employee reassignment and attrition and is expected to achieve cost savings of approximately $2 billion annually when fully implemented.
Lisa M. Reed's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.