WASHINGTON Feb 27 Trade groups representing
greeting card makers, paper manufacturers and newspapers are
fighting to prevent the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service from
dropping first-class mail delivery on Saturdays.
The groups are lobbying Congress to pass legislation
introduced in the House of Representatives compelling the Postal
Service to continue its six-day mail delivery service.
The Postal Service said on Feb. 6 it plans to drop Saturday
delivery of first-class mail beginning in August, a move
intended to save it $2 billion annually.
The Greeting Card Association, National Newspaper
Association, American Forest & Paper Association, National Rural
Letter Carriers Association and Envelope Manufacturers
Association trade groups, along with the National Association of
Letter Carriers labor union, are among those pushing to preserve
"We all lose if the Postal Service doesn't continue with
Saturday delivery," said Rafe Morrissey, vice president for
postal affairs at the Greeting Card Association.
But Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in an interview
that the Postal Service has identified only one group of
commercial mailers that could lose by the elimination of
Saturday first-class mail delivery - small newspapers that do
not have their own Saturday deliverers.
The Postal Service, an independent U.S. government agency
that is not funded by taxpayers, lost $16 billion last year and
is bleeding money due to dropping mail volumes as people
increasingly use email as well as expensive payments into a
mandatory future retiree healthcare fund.
"The public is looking for an organization to make the right
financial decision so that we don't become a financial burden to
the taxpayer," Donahoe told Reuters. "We plan to do what we said
we were going to do."
Morrissey said eliminating Saturday delivery could dampen
people's willingness to send greeting cards while also driving
away revenue for the Postal Service. About 60 percent of the
cards made by the Greeting Card Association's member businesses
are sent through the Postal Service, the group said.
The Postal Service plans to continue to deliver packages and
pharmaceutical drugs on Saturday, but not direct mail,
newspapers, periodicals or first-class mail.
"The least-used delivery day is Tuesday, and mail builds up
on Thursdays and Fridays," added Envelope Manufacturers
Association CEO Maynard Benjamin. "Why did they throw Saturday
under the bus?"
Representative Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who is a
co-sponsor of the House bill to preserve Saturday delivery, said
in an interview that the Postal Service has not substantiated
its projected $2 billion in annual savings from ending Saturday
delivery. Connolly said eliminating Saturday delivery is illegal
because Congress did not authorize the Postal Service to do so.
Congress has included a provision in legislation to fund the
federal government each year that has prevented the Postal
Service from reducing its six-day delivery service. The current
funding measure expires in March, and would free the Postal
Service to change its delivery schedule unless Congress
prohibits it in the next spending resolution.
The newspaper association, which argues that eliminating
Saturday delivery will hurt commercial mailers, said
representatives of member newspapers from around the country
will come to Washington next month to make their case to
lawmakers for preserving six-day delivery.
"It's a business decision for us just like it's a business
decision for them," Max Heath of the newspaper group said. "It's
not over until it's over."
(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Karey Wutkowski and