50 US Senators Call for 1-Year Hold on Postal Service Cuts

At Last! Something Democrats and Republicans Agree On

More Mailboxes :Like These May Be Retiring Soon. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Even after the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) reported losing another $2 billion, 50 of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate have called for a one-year hold on a USPS plan to cut its costs by closing mail processing plants and reducing mail delivery services​.

Despite realizing a 2% increase in gross revenue compared to the same period last year, the USPS reported a $2 billion net loss for the third quarter of 2014, representing the 21st loss in its last 23 quarters.

Even though faced with the nearly certain probability of similar or lager USPS losses in the future, a bipartisan group of 50 Senators signed a letter to leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees opposing the Postal Service’s plan to save money by closing as many as 82 mail processing plants nationwide and reducing the frequency of mail delivery, thus allowing the elimination of up to 15,000 jobs starting in 2015.

Also See: Postal Service Losses by Year

The letter calls on the appropriations committees to include a one-year ban on implementation of the plan, or any other move by the Postal Service to reduce mail-delivery in the spending bills Congress will have to pass before September 30, in order to prevent another government shutdown.

Also See: The Antideficiency Act and Government Shutdowns

“At a time when our middle class is disappearing, the loss of 15,000 good-paying Postal Service jobs will harm our local communities and economies,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Slowing down mail delivery even further will hurt senior citizens on fixed incomes, small businesses and the entire economy.”

In a press release, the Postal Service expressed its disappointment in the Senators’ efforts to prevent it from eliminating “excess capacity from our mail processing network.”

“It would be unfortunate if this action were to impede our current progress,” said the USPS statement. “A comprehensive legislative package is the most appropriate way to address our systemic business model and financial issues.”

Rocky Road for USPS Cutback Plans

In January 2012, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) shot down another controversial Postal Service cost-cutting plan that would have closed over 3,600 local post offices.​

In talking the action, the PRC specifically pointed out the plan’s inherent discrimination against rural communities, citing a federal law stating, “No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities.”

And in March 2011, the PRC ruled that the Postal Service and failed to adequately evaluate the impact of its long-delayed plan to end Saturday mail delivery on rural Americans. According to the commission, the plan would have “significantly reduced service” to rural areas compared to urban addresses.

“Mail must be sent to one specific address, either to a post office box address or a street address; a customer could not choose to have street delivery Monday through Friday and post office box delivery on Saturday.

Furthermore, rural areas may not have convenient access to post office boxes,” stated the PRC at the time.

Postal Worker Unions Also Oppose Cuts

Since 2011, bills to reform, as in “save” the Postal Service from financial Armageddon have included similar mail-facility, mail-delivery and staff reduction proposals. Also since 2011, the major unions representing the nearly 630,000 postal workers have opposed those proposals.

Both the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and the National Postal Workers Union (NPWU) have declared the facility closures and mail-service cutbacks “counterproductive.”

“Ending door-to-door delivery for tens of millions of Americans would particularly harm small businesses as well as the elderly and people who live in areas with extreme weather,” said NALC president Fredric Rolando in a press release.

“And it's counterproductive financially, because -- as is the case with the proposal to eliminate Saturday delivery -- degrading service would drive mail out of the system and reduce revenue.”

Also See: How 3-Day Mail Would Lift You Up​​

Rolando was referring to a USPS plan that would replace most remaining front-door mail delivery with delivery to curbside mailboxes or clustered boxes centrally located in residential neighborhoods.

Not quite so restrained in his criticism of postal reform legislation was APWU President Cliff Guffey.

“If it is enacted, this bill will lead to the demise of the Postal Service,” he said in a press release. “The bill would punish postal workers and deprive the American people of vital services.”

Also See: Mail Customers Willing to Accept Service Cuts