In Cost-Saving Move, Post Office Cuts Saturday Delivery

Feb 6, 2013

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with an ending.

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GREENE: The U.S. Postal Service has just announced the end of first class mail deliveries on Saturday. It is part of an effort to slow enormous financial losses. And NPR's Yuki Noguchi has come into the studio to tell us what all this means for customers and the Postal Service. And Yuki, so when will my Saturday deliveries stop?

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Well, as of the week of August 5th, there will be no regular first class mail - envelopes, bills, magazine deliveries on Saturdays. But the service will continue for delivering packages - which is an area where the Postal Service is trying to compete better with rivals like Fed Ex and UPS - so they want to continue to do that. Also, the Post Offices themselves will remain open on Saturdays.

GREENE: OK, but letters, I'm not going to be getting those on Saturday anymore.

NOGUCHI: That's right.

GREENE: Well, how much money is the Postal Service going to save from this?

NOGUCHI: Two billion dollars a year. But, of course, it lost 16 billion last year. So it's a little bit of a lot of losses.

GREENE: Yeah, an important savings, it sounds like. I think - explain this to - they're a federal agency, right? I mean, do they need Congress to approve this before they change?

NOGUCHI: Well, they're technically independent, but they did - they had been clamoring loudly for Congress to allow them to make all kinds of changes - from the way it funds its employee health care, to this Saturday delivery issue - which is probably the most controversial. And Congress did take it up last year. A bill passed in the Senate that would have cut other costs first, but nothing was signed into law. And Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, believes that he has the authority, in the temporary appropriations language, allowing him to do this. But more than that, he kept saying today, we have no choice. We have to do this.

POSTMASTER GENERAL PATRICK DONAHOE: We take no tax dollars. We do not want tax dollars.

NOGUCHI: And so, as you can see, the Postal Service feels that it does not need Congress's go ahead in order to do this. And we'll see what Congress has to say about that.

GREENE: Well, I mean, even though they don't take tax dollars, he says - I mean could Congress reverse this decision, in some way, if they want to?

NOGUCHI: Well, it's not clear, at this point, what they would do. I mean, Congress will probably weigh in, and certainly, the unions will. There are some powerful interests in that will continue to lobby to keep Saturday delivery in place. These will include magazine publishers, greeting card makers, seniors who get their drugs through the mail. And there are lots of rural interests who will also say that this will particularly disadvantage them.

GREENE: Yuki, thanks for joining us.

NOGUCHI: Thank you.

GREENE: That's NPR's Yuki Noguchi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.