The U.S. Postal Service's decision to eliminate Saturday mail home delivery could affect hundreds of postal workers in the state and many newspapers that rely on the Postal Service to deliver the news to subscribers.
The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week, an apparent end-run around an unaccommodating Congress.
The service expects the Saturday mail cutback to begin the week of Aug. 5 and to save about $2 billion annually, said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe.
“Our financial condition is urgent,” Donahoe told a news conference.
Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but still would be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.
Donahoe said the elimination of Saturday mail delivery would mean a combination of employee reassignment and attrition.
The curtailed mail delivery schedules could affect about 450 postal workers at the U.S. Postal Service's Tulsa mail sorting plant, said Koquise Edwards, president of the Oklahoma City area local for the American Postal Workers Union, which represents clerks, mechanics and other postal service workers.
The mail processing center has been targeted for eventual closure.
“We don't know if five-day delivery is going to speed up that process or not,” Edwards said.
Mail carriers could see their hours cut when Saturday delivery comes to an end, said David Miller said, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 548, based in Oklahoma City.
The elimination of Saturday mail delivery could keep about 100 part-time mail carriers in the area from becoming full-time postal service employees, Miller said.
“This is the first step in taking the drastic cuts of going to two- or three-day mail delivery,” Miller said. “What was once a strong, middle-class, full-time job could be eliminated.”
Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association, said the postal cutbacks could force some state newspapers to reconsider their publishing schedule.
“We think that the Postal Service has other options to bring their expenses in line, other than cutting service to some of its most loyal customers,” Thomas said.
Because many federal holidays without mail service fall on a Monday, there will be weeks during the year where Oklahoma publications will have to deal with four consecutive days without first-class mail service, Thomas said.