MADISON, Wis. - The U.S. Postal Service plans to stop delivering and collecting letters and other first-class mail on Saturdays in an effort to cut costs.
Karen Cronin, a customer-relations coordinator for the Postal Service, said cutting Saturday service has been "a long time in the works."
This, in addition to cutting hours and its workforce over the years, is another attempt to keep the struggling service afloat. Rather than waiting for help from Congress, the Postal Service unveiled the plan Wednesday.
"I was on Facebook and someone had a thing in their news feed about the reduction of mail service," said Michelle Martin, who heard the news by the time her afternoon mail arrived Wednesday.
A friend of Martin's who worked for the Postal Service anticipated the move and pursued a different job.
"He was afraid this sort of thing was coming and saw the possibility for his job being eliminated and has moved on to selling cars," Martin explained.
The new delivery schedule starts in August, but it doesn't affect packages, express or priority mail, PO boxes or offices already open on Saturdays.
"Saturday is the day with the least amount of mail to be delivered and so that was the best choice," Cronin said. "This change is expected to save $2 billion annually, and those costs are not only in fewer employees to deliver on Saturdays but also no processing and fuel costs."
Its financial woes might stem from a 2006 mandate ordering the Postal Service to pre-fund benefits for future retirees; however, it has since defaulted on loans and given up on waiting for help from Congress. There are also questions over whether the Postal Service would need approval from Congress to make this change.
Cronin said most Americans think ending Saturday service makes sense to save money.
"When surveys were done earlier, 70 percent of Americans supported the five-day delivery as a means for the Postal Service to cut costs," Cronin said.
Unions oppose the decision, saying it deepens the financial crisis.
"I think as a society we are moving to quick and cheap, instead of long-term and living wage and sustainable," Martin said.
Budget issues also stopped Saturday mail deliveries, but only temporarily, in 1947 and 1957.