U.S. Senator Susan Collins release the following statement today after the U.S. Postal Service announced it intends to end Saturday mail delivery this summer.
As former Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Collins was coauthor of a bipartisan bill, that passed the Senate last year, that would prohibit the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday delivery for at least two years. Instead, the legislation would have required the USPS to embark on a two-year period of aggressive cost-cutting first, and then only allow this reduction in service if the Government Accountability Office and postal regulators both certify that elimination of Saturday delivery is necessary to achieve solvency.
"There is no doubt that the U.S. Postal Service is in a financial crisis. It has been hit with falling mail volume, the recession, and the loss of customers to digital technology such as e-mail and online bill paying that has replaced traditional mail. Cutting service should, however, be the last resort, not the Postal Service's first choice. The Postal Service's decision to eliminate Saturday delivery is inconsistent with current law and threatens to further jeopardize its customer base.
In fact, in a report released in March 2011, the Postal Regulatory Commission found that the Postal Services' proposed savings from moving to five-day delivery were overly inflated by $1.4 billion dollars. It also found that a reduction in delivery days will result in more lost revenue and fewer customers than the Postal Service had anticipated. I have always been concerned that cutting service will drive more customers away, causing revenues to decline further, and thus ensuring that the Postal Service's financial free fall continues.
"The Postal Service is the linchpin of a $1 trillion mailing and mail-related industry that employs more than 8 million Americans in fields as diverse as direct mail, printing, catalog companies, magazine and newspaper publishing, and paper manufacturing. A healthy Postal Service is not just important to postal customers, but also to our national economy.
"The fact is, nearly 80 percent of the Postal Service's costs are workforce-related and, as painful as it may be, finding a compassionate way to reduce these costs is simply unavoidable. That is why the bill passed by the Senate in the last Congress provided for buyouts to reduce the workforce and sensible reforms in the postal workers' compensation program to save substantial money.
"It is critical that the Postal Service try to preserve regular, dependable service. I am disappointed that the Postal Service will only maintain six-day delivery for packages, post office boxes and priority mail. The service upon which so many American families and businesses rely will only deteriorate with the end of six-day, first class mail delivery. This may pose problems for newspapers that are mailed to customers, for seniors who rely on prescription drug deliveries, and for small businesses who send advertising flyers, among others.
"Last year, the Senate passed bipartisan postal reform legislation that former Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Tom Carper, former Senator Scott Brown and I coauthored. It's unfortunate that the House failed to act. Our bill encouraged the Postal Service to operate more like a business: by cutting internal costs first instead of driving away customers with deep service cuts or steep price hikes."