The Ottumwa Courier

February 7, 2013

Will Saturday mail service survive?

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The word is out. The Postmaster General has announced his intentions to stop Saturday mail delivery, except for packages.

Pauline Jelinek of the Associated Press reported the “struggling” U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week.

Jelinek also noted “it’s regrettable that the Postal Service is caught up in a political crisis caused by an uncooperative Congress.”

Richard Watkins, corporate communications spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Kansas City, said he “can’t give specifics,” but the service “won’t need as many employees” to deliver the mail.

Lance Coles of the Federation of Labor said no mail delivery on Saturday will cause undue hardship on the economy, impact rural Iowans and increase the workload on the letter carriers.

“We’re not sorting as much mail as we did ... so we want to match the work force with the declining work load,” Watkins said. “I can’t give you specifics, but we won’t need as many employees for delivering the mail.”

Congressman Dave Loebsack said Wednesday that inaction by Congress has real-life consequences for Iowans.

“By requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund retirement health benefits to the tune of over $50 billion over 10 years, which no other agency or business has to do, Congress is tying their hands,” Loebsack said. “The USPS wouldn’t be in the dire situation it is today if it hadn’t been required to pre-pay these funds.”

Loebsack also claimed the legislation to address the USPS problem was introduced last Congress, but House leadership refused to bring it up.

“I can’t think of a less partisan issue than the postal service. It is past time Congress works to find a solution to this problem,” he added.

Ken Sagar, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, said no mail delivery on Saturday will cause undue hardship on the economy, impact rural Iowans, and increase workload on the letter carriers — especially on Mondays and delivery days after a holiday.

This action will impact over 22,000 postal employees and millions of Americans from small business to the elderly and the disabled, according to Sagar.

A few Ottumwans offered some comments about the mail delivery.

Bettie Mae Wymore said the only thing the change would do to her is cause slowness in mailing her provider’s claim to the Iowa Department of Human Services.

“I’m all for the country and the postal service if it would help,” Wymore said.

Kelly Spurgeon is the county auditor, and the change would affect her work mail every other year because of the two Saturdays before the general election. She picks up the mail for the whole courthouse and worries about missing any absentee requests and ballots.

Wes Westmoreland said he was concerned about delays in important mail and possible bigger problems at Christmastime. He also wondered about the court system’s correspondence and how that could slow down a court case.