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Ponnada: Going postal

BY SRI PONNADA | FEBRUARY 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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The U.S. Postal Service has been having financial troubles for quite a while. But when the service reached its limit in September 2012 of $15 billion set by Congress, it was evident that major changes would take place. I thought I had it bad as a college student who expects to be in thousands of dollars of debt after graduation.

One of the major changes, announced on Feb. 6 by the Postal Service, is discontinuing Saturday delivery, except for packages, mail-order medicines, Priority Mail, and Express Mail — to be in effect starting Aug. 10.

Some Iowa City residents — including Bill Nusser, the owner of Hands Jewelers, 109 E. Washington St., who contends that the change would negatively affect his business — are concerned about mail service.

Our concerns, however, should focus on what will happen to the trusty mail people who for years have delivered our mail regardless of rain, wind, or snow.

“We’re just a postal substation, so it doesn’t really affect our business that much,” said Brianne Wulf, a customer-service representative for the post facility at1720 Waterfront Drive. “But I’m sure that for the Post Office, it’ll definitely affect them in terms of their business and employees.”

An unsigned internal document from the Postal Service states that the switch to five-day delivery is expected to save the agency approximately $2 billion. These savings, according to the document, will arise from a combination of expenses, but most of them will be from carrier labor. When estimated 35,000 people could be cut from the workforce in the next six months, it’s absolutely ridiculous to be crying about getting coupons in the mail only five days a week.

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor show that there are more than half a million people employed by the Postal Service. More than 315,000 of these employees are mail carriers who make an average of $51,390 per year — but many of them may end up making nothing by the time the changes are fully in effect.

So what if we don’t get some of our mail on Saturday? I never check my mail on the weekend anyway, and I’m sure a lot of other people don’t, either. If there is anyone who should be enraged or upset about the new change, it’s the thousands of middle-class American citizens who won’t see their regular paycheck in the mail.


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