Saturday mail delivery set to end

Tumwater processing facility likely to consolidate with Seattle location, regional Postal Service spokesman says

rboone@theolympian.comFebruary 7, 2013 

The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it will end Saturday home mail service for first-class mail, a move that is expected to save the financially strapped agency $2 billion.

The decision to cut Saturday service is set to take effect Aug. 5.

No first-class mail means letters, magazines, advertising mail, catalogs, newspapers and Netflix DVDs will not be delivered on Saturdays, regional Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson said. Parcels will be delivered on Saturdays, and those who have a post office box will still get their mail, he said.

“We are simply not in a financial position where we can maintain six days of mail delivery,” Postmaster General and Chief Executive Patrick Donahoe said. “The ease of online bill payments has led to the decline of first-class mail volume since 2008, a major blow to the institution.”

In the past fiscal year, the Postal Service has seen a financial loss of $15.9 billion.

The larger effect on Thurston County was not immediately known.

The mail processing facility in Tumwater, which employs 105, likely will be consolidated with a similar plant in Seattle. That plan is still in the works. “Nothing has been solidified in terms of a particular (date),” Swanson said.

The number of Postal Service employees in the county also wasn’t immediately available.

The decision to end Saturday home mail service doesn’t necessarily mean layoffs or other wholesale changes, Swanson said.

The Postal Service has been operating very lean in recent years, he said, not hiring and providing incentives to employees to retire or take early retirement.

Since 2006, the agency has reduced its workforce by 193,000, Swanson said.

If a job is eliminated as a result of Wednesday’s announcement, that employee might be able to work at another Postal Service location, he said.

“We’re trying to handle the change through attrition, and not have to lay anybody off,” Swanson said.

However, Richard Gallegos, vice president of the Fresno Area American Postal Workers Union in California, estimates 30,000 to 40,000 carriers will lose their jobs because of the cut.

Meanwhile, the end of Saturday home mail service takes effect the same week as Washington state’s August primary. The primary is Aug. 6.

Secretary of State spokesman David Ammons said the agency was disappointed by the postmaster general’s announcement, but was not caught off guard, saying they were on notice that something like this could happen.

“We’re disappointed, but we will deal with it,” he said, adding that they will respond to the change with drop boxes and will encourage voters to mail in ballots by the Friday before elections.

Drop boxes already are a popular choice with voters, with many counties recently reporting that more than half of voter ballots were returned that way, he said.

He said Secretary of State Kim Wyman has asked counties to provide more drop boxes at convenient locations. $36 million

Financial losses suffered by the U.S. Postal Service each day

$15.6 BILLION

The Postal Service’s net loss for its 2012 fiscal year

Source: The New York Times Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com McClatchy news services contributed to this story.

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