Say goodbye to Saturday mail delivery? It looks that way.
The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it expects to cut back delivery of mail on Saturdays – limiting it to packages only – starting the week of Aug. 5.
Many in Western New York, along with the rest of the nation, shrugged off the news as a sign of the times.
“One less day of junk mail,” Madalyn Fliesler, of Buffalo, quipped on Facebook.
The move is expected to save the Postal Service $2 billion a year – a cost-cutting action that the agency desperately needs as it grapples with the steady loss of business to the Internet and social media, and the crushing cost of medical care for future retirees.
“Our financial condition is urgent,” Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe said at a news conference in Washington.
If the new proposal is approved by Congress, the Postal Service would continue to deliver packages on Saturdays, a service whose volume has actually increased by 14 percent since 2010, prompting optimism about that segment of its market.
Also, post offices that are now open on Saturdays would continue to be open.
The proposal would not result in mass layoffs, although workers are expected to be reassigned, and attrition of retiring workers is also being factored in, officials said.
The Buffalo News asked its readers on Facebook how they felt about the changes.
Several worried about how it would affect Postal Service employees.
“I don’t like it,” said Christine Snyder. “It is just another way to get rid of people who do the actual work. If anything, they need more workers.”
Another reader, Anita Costello, said she would miss opening up her mailbox on Saturdays.
“But if it keeps my post office open, I will be happy. My post office is local and convenient,” she said.
Another woman wondered whether taking a midweek day off instead might serve the community better.
“2 days off in a row would be bad. Then it would be 3 days off in a row on holiday weekends,” she said on Facebook.
Some wrote that they felt only the elderly would miss Saturday delivery.
Richard Wohlfeil, 81, a Bethlehem Steel retiree, said he doubted that. He had joked via Facebook that he’d be fine with mail delivered only on three days.
Reached by phone, he said, he hardly ever gets any mail on Saturdays as it is.
“I would not miss it at all,” he said.
He recalled when he was a child and mail was delivered twice a day. “That was the norm back then,” he said. “Times are changing. We have to change with the times.”
The proposal to end mail delivery on Saturdays was a compromise worked out after repeated attempts by the Postal Service to try to end all deliveries and service on Saturdays.
While the Postal Service is an independent agency that gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations, it is subject to congressional control.
Since 2006, Congress has required the Postal Service to set aside $55 billion to cover future medical costs for retirees. In November, the agency reported an annual loss of $15.9 billion for the fiscal year, $11.1 billion of which came from the mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits.
Locally, it’s not clear how things will shake out, said Karen Mazurkiewicz, spokewoman for the Western New York region of the Postal Service.
“We don’t know what the local implications will be,” she said. “That level of detail hasn’t been provided.”
What’s known, she said, is that everyone will be affected, but it’s likely that changes won’t be dramatic. “We’ll continue to deliver our packages, so it’s kind of a win-win,” Mazurkiewicz said.
But the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Fredric V. Rolando, said that the end of Saturday mail delivery is “a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers,” particularly businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication.
He said Donahoe’s effort to make the change “flouts the will of Congress, as expressed annually over the past 30 years in legislation that mandates six-day delivery.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report. email: email@example.com