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Next-day mail delivery to become limited, USPS says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 6th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

"This isn't a change we're happy about," Art Sackler, executive director of the National Postal Policy Council, a trade group for large mailers says. The U.S. Postal Service has announced an economic proposal that would no longer deliver first-class mail the following day. Sackler says it's a necessity. " . If they don't cut somewhere and substantially, they're going to run out of cash next summer. It's one of the lesser evils."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to interviews with several mail industry officials, the cash-strapped agency will present to its overseers a proposal to change its national standard for first-class mail to two-to-five days from one-to-three.

Postal customers on average currently receive mail the day after it was mailed. That may still happen, but a lot less frequently under the proposed rules, say the insiders who were briefed on the proposal.

The postal service had previously asked for public comment in September on "eliminating the expectation of overnight service" for first class mail. This will have a major impact on customers who still use the postal service to pay their bills.

It's not yet known when the plan could take effect.

"These changes are being proposed, because they will allow for significant consolidation of the entire postal network in terms of facilities, processing equipment, vehicles and employee workforce," U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Sue Brennan says.

On the brink of insolvency, the Postal Service is facing another 20 percent drop in mail volume on top of the 20 percent volume drop it has already weathered. The Post Office has racked up $5.1 billion in debt this year and faces a deadline to make another $5.5 billion payment to its health care retirement fund on Dec. 18.

However, some areas of the country may still get next-day delivery, depending on whether their local mailing processing plant survives the next set of potential closures under review. According to its 2011 annual report, the Postal Service wants to bring the number of mail processing facilities down to under 200 from 463 currently in operation.

Postal officials discussed the proposed changes at a meeting this week of the Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee. Cutting back on next-day delivery of first-class mail would help make the mail processing system more efficient, postal officials agreed.

The Postal Service currently runs mail processing equipment about six hours a day. According to Jessica Lowrance, executive vice president of the Association for Postal Commerce, the current goal is to run the equipment 20 hours a day.

The move could be quite controversial, especially among unions that oppose any moves that degrade the quality of mail service and cost mail customers.

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