The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 6, 2013

Residents express concerns: Little info available on local workers

JOHNSTOWN — The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service plans to eliminate first-class mail deliveries on Saturdays.

By August, residents and businesses will receive letters, bills, magazines, etc. only Monday through Friday.

The change will not only affect customers but also employees at post offices throughout the region. However, little information is currently available concerning how local workers will be impacted. “We informed all of our employees of Postmaster General (Patrick Donahoe’s) decision,” said Johnstown Postmaster Mike Hudak.

“That’s all the information we were able to share with them at this time. ... As information is forthcoming, we will share it with all our employees.”

Some area residents expressed concerns about the plan.

“I think that it’s going to be tough,” said Peggy Miller, whose mailing address is in Sidman. “Those of us that work, we need our mail on Saturday; we need to send mail out. Lots of times that’s whenever we’re at home doing our bills or whatever.”

Rick Terine, from Benshoff Hill, added, “I don’t like it. I’m a landlord, and sometimes you get your rent on Saturdays, sometimes you don’t.”

Eliminating Saturday deliveries is expected to save $2 billion annually because of job cuts, which Donahoe feels can be made through attrition and buyouts.

The Pennsylvania State Association of Letter Carriers has no official comment about possible job losses at this time, according to President Joseph Antal, an Ebensburg resident.

USPS officials made the decision after studying the issue over the past few years.

“This isn’t something that was just developed or thought about recently,” said Tad Kelley, spokesman for the Postal Service’s Western Pennsylvania District.

The Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer money for day-to-day operations, lost $15.9 billion and defaulted on payments to prefund retiree health benefits during the 2012 fiscal year. USPS recently reached its borrowing limit from the U.S. Treasury. With Americans increasingly using the Internet for corresponding and paying bills, the volume of delivered mail has dropped by 25 percent since 2006, according to Kelley.

“We have to adjust,” Kelley said.

Packages will still be delivered on Saturdays. That aspect of the USPS operation has increased by 14 percent since 2010.

“That’s a growth market,” Kelley said.

Donahoe believes the Postal Service can eliminate Saturday delivery without approval of Congress. The Congress, however, might need to give an official go-ahead. Congress currently prohibits a five-day delivery plan in its appropriations bill. But, since the government is now operating under a temporary spending measure, Donahoe thinks his agency can make the change.

He is basically asking Congress to not reimpose the ban when it expires on March 27.

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