Jack Davis August 6, 2021 at 3:59pm
The U.S. Postal Service is on a fast track to slow down even as it is raising stamp prices.
The Postal Service’s Board of Governors on Friday debated a plan to slow mail delivery.
The Postal Regulatory Commission, a separate body, has already given its seal of approval to a plan from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to boost the price of a first-class stamp to 58 cents, NPR reported.
The increase takes effect Aug. 29.
Currently, the Postal Service has a goal of delivering first-class mail in one to three days. Under new standards that are planned to take effect next year, that can shift to as long as five days, according to Fortune.
Part of the change calls for an increase in sending mail via ground transportation, with a reduced reliance on air transportation. The change is aimed at reducing the sea of red ink in which the Postal Service swims.
Ronald Stroman, a board member appointed by President Joe Biden, said the change 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,” according to NPR.
Stroman, a past deputy postmaster general, said during a Board of Governors meeting that the country was “only beginning to emerge from a global pandemic” and that mail delivery has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
The changes DeJoy wants to enact “disproportionally impact our seniors, middle- and low-income Americans, [and] small businesses, who are our most loyal customers and most dependent on us,” he said.
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Board member Anton Hajjar said he is doubtful about the change away from air transportation and that he has not seen proposed savings from the plan “quantified.”
DeJoy admitted his plan has “uncomfortable changes.”
“We are confident we are headed in the right direction, which is slightly away from what we have done in the past,” DeJoy said, adding that the current operational plan “has not worked.”
DeJoy said critics want the Postal Service “to stop what we are doing, study more, increase service, keep prices low, cut employee benefits” in what he called “single-interest issues disguised as solutions.”
“The best days of this thinking and what it has to offer has come and gone,” he said.
The Postal Regulatory Commission last month said the changes may not work out as planned, finding that “estimated annual cost savings for the proposed service standard changes do not indicate much improvement, if any, to the Postal Service’s current financial condition.”
The Postal Service lost $3 billion in its most recent quarter, having lost $2.2 billion in the same quarter a year ago.
In assessing the impact of the proposed changes, The Washington Post reported that they “would disproportionately affect states west of the Rocky Mountains and the country’s mainland extremities, including large swaths of southern Texas and Florida.”
“All told, at least a third of the mail in 27 states will arrive more slowly under the new service standards.”