Strong USPS results, but service cuts on tap

usps-stop-delaying-mailWASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Postal Service’s announcement of its financial results for the last calendar quarter of 2014 show an operating profit of $1.1 billion and a continuing trend of increased revenue. While the release trumpets a $754 million loss, that loss exists only on paper, a product of a much-criticized law designed to transfer $55 billion over ten years from the postal budget to a federal treasury account, purportedly to fund retiree health benefits in the distant future.

The clear improvement in postal finances calls into question the wisdom of cuts in service to the public, cuts that were planned before the rebound in the economy and postal revenue.

On Jan. 6, service standards throughout Washington state and nation were put on a new, slower schedule, virtually eliminating next-day delivery of local mail. Letters, invoices, bill payments, medicine, Netflix, and other important mail that has taken a single day to be delivered locally, will now take a minimum of two days, even if sent to an address on the same block.

In Pierce County, for example, the decision to cut service standards directly impacts the local economy, which stands to lose 200 union-wage jobs if the mail processing operation at the Pine Street facility in Tacoma is closed in July as planned, a direct result of the January service cuts.

In 2014, 51 U.S. senators, including Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and 178 House members, including Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Adam Smith (D-WA), and Denny Heck (D-WA) called for a one-year moratorium on the reduction in service standards and the closure of the mail processing centers to allow Congress time to enact postal legislation that would improve, not degrade, postal service.

“This is a time to strengthen — not degrade — the now-profitable networks,” said Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. “We hope to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, with the administration and with the new postmaster general to build on the progress achieved in the last Congress, within the mailing industry and among major stakeholders on consensus postal reform that promotes a strong and vibrant Postal Service… There is no reason for it to be a partisan issue.”

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