A spokesman for the union that represents Iowa’s rural mail carriers is calling for the removal of Patrick Donahoe as U-S postmaster general. David Heather of Kansas City is executive committeeman for the National Rural Letter Carriers Association. Heather says the recent announcement by Donahoe to end Saturday mail delivery in August is an example of his poor leadership.
It wasn’t just based on this decision,” Heather says. “It was based on a lot of things he’s been doing the last couple of years that we feel are irresponsible in his running of the business. The main infraction though was the unilateral move without congressional approval to eliminate the delivery of mail on Saturday.”
Heather says his association believes the lack of Saturday delivery would have an extremely negative impact on rural America. “The elimination of the delivery of mail on Saturdays would have a devastating effect to the postal service, especially in the rural areas where the carriers that we represent live and work,” Heather says. “We feel the $2 billion in savings Postmaster Donahoe has touted can’t be substantiated and we feel that’s a very high estimate of the savings that would actually occur.”
The Postal Service reported nearly $16-billion in losses for its last budget year and expects even larger losses in 2013. The losses last year were triple the losses from the previous year. Heather says eliminating Saturday deliveries will have a negative effect on the ability of the postal service to remain viable. “We believe that cutting out service will lose business for the postal service,” he says. “When you’re a business that all you have to sell is the service you provide and you cut down on that service, we don’t feel like that’s a wise way to run a business.”
Heather says the biggest obstacle for the post office to maintain a positive cash flow is a congressional requirement passed in 2006. “This legislation requires the postal service to pre-fund health care benefits for future retirees 75 years into the future. And it requires the postal service to pay for all those benefits 75 years into the future in just a 10-year period. The result is a charge of a little over $5 billion a year to the bottom line of the postal service.” Heather says it’s extremely unfair and not fully understood by the general public. “This is a requirement that’s not placed on any other government agency,” he says. “This is a requirement that’s certainly not placed on any private company.” While it will stop regular deliver of mail on Saturdays, the Postal Service will continue to deliver packages six days a week, post office boxes will still get mail on Saturdays and post offices that are now open Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays.