The U-S Postal Service warned Congress today it could lose $10-Billion in the fiscal year that ends this month. That puts the Postal Service in danger of defaulting as it reaches its borrowing limit. The Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is asking Congress to let it break union contracts to fire employees, change retirees’ health benefits, and end mail delivery on Saturdays.
He testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Alaska Senator Mark Begich questioned the plan to cut Saturday service.
We’re concerned about this: the rural component, but also as a small business person, What will it impact a small business owner who really depends on a much delivery time as possible. They’re not coporate, they don’t have mail runners to package up their stuff and ship it off to the post office. The owner has to do it. And small businesses depend on delivery as well as making sure they get their mail coming in. How do you respond to that?
Begich says he’s especially concerned about very small businesses, those with 15 employees and fewer.
Postmaster General Donahoe says of all the possible places to cut, Saturday service makes the most sense.
Generally the volume is about 10-15 percent lower on Saturday than the rest of the week. We will keep post offices open on Saturdays. So people would have access to our 30,000 plus post offices For shipping pacakages and so forth for the small business…right. We’d be able to provide that service. Now we will not be running outgoing mail that night, that would be Monday, but they would have access to our services.
Senator Begich’s office said after today’s hearing that he remains concerned about the impacts of cuts on rural Alaska.
Thousands of post offices throughout the country are being studied for closure, but Alaskans got the news last month that 25 of its 36 post offices being considered for shuttering are safe for now. Senator Begich said that news came in a meeting with Postal Service officials and rural community groups concerned about the harm closures in remote communities could bring. 11 Alaskan post offices are still being eyed for closure. Exactly which ones are being spared remains to be seen – release of the list was delayed because postal officials said they had to focus on problems in the wake of Hurricane Irene on the East Coast… but that was more than a week ago and the Alaska Congressional delegation hopes to receive the list soon.