The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on Friday finalized a plan effective Oct. 1 to slow down some first-class mail deliveries as part of efforts to cut red ink.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy proposed in March to revise existing one- to three-day service standards to one to five days for first-class mail.
USPS said in a notice published in the Federal Register current standards require it “to rely heavily on air transportation, using air cargo transportation carriers and commercial passenger air carriers.”
USPS said on Friday that 61% of first-class mail will remain at its current standard.
Two newly confirmed members of the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors spoke out Friday against DeJoy’s plan to slow delivery of first-class mail, but the board took no steps to stop or even modify the 10-year plan despite the concerns expressed by the board members and regulators.
Ronald Stroman, one of three new governors named by President Joe Biden, said that intentionally slowing first-class mail and package delivery by changing service standards is “strategically ill-conceived, creates dangerous risks that are not justified by the relatively low financial return, and doesn’t meet our responsibility as an essential part of America’s critical infrastructure.”
Stroman took the most aggressive approach in criticizing DeJoy’s plan, saying the delivery slowdowns would hinder the agency’s ability to provide prompt and reliable service without federal funding.
Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general, noted at the Board of Governors open meeting that the country was “only beginning to emerge from a global pandemic” and is now struggling with the delta variant and that mail delivery was below pre-pandemic levels.
He said the plan is “strategically-ill conceived, creates dangerous risks that are not justified by the relatively low financial return, and doesn’t meet our responsibility as an essential part of America’s critical infrastructure.”
He added that the changes “disproportionally impact our seniors, middle- and low-income Americans, [and] small businesses, who are our most loyal customers and most dependent on us.”
DeJoy acknowledged the plan calls for some “uncomfortable changes,” but he said, “We are confident we are headed in the right direction, which is slightly away from what we have done in the past,” which DeJoy contended “has not worked.”
DeJoy also acknowledged the opposition to the plan, which he attributed to “stakeholder push back and fatigue,” saying, “We are listening and have adjusted some.”
Anton Hajjar, a former American Postal Workers Union official and another recently confirmed Biden nominee, took a more measured approach, saying there was “a whole lot to like” in DeJoy’s plan.
Hajjar questioned why the slowdowns were necessary before examining the impacts of the investments and other reforms postal management plans to implement.
USPS expects to save about $170 million annually from the changes, a small fraction of its operating budget.