By Alexis Taylor, Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –
The United States Postal Service is an American institution that has simply always been there. However, after weathering a bitter recession, competition from private mail companies and deeper cuts to an already stretched budget, the age old organization is struggling to survive. This year will see the introduction of record breaking reductions in service as well as price increases for basic USPS materials such as stamps.
Fighting to keep their heads above water, continue to employ its 574,000 career employees, and provide adequate health benefits to its workers, the USPS has taken major hits in the few years. “The U.S. Postal Service must reduce its operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 in order to return to profitability,” said David Williams, vice president of Network Operations in a press release.
“The proposed changes to service standards will allow for significant consolidation of the postal network in terms of facilities, processing equipment, vehicles and employee workforce and will, when fully implemented, generate projected net annual savings of approximately $2 billion.”
Processing on average 563 million pieces of mail a day, in 2010 alone the USPS had to cut back 75 million work hours, which is roughly the equivalent of 42,800 full-time employees. Jan. 22, Americans will see a one cent increase on first class stamps to 45 cents, and a three cent increase on postcards to 32 cents.
“Mail from Baltimore to Chicago takes 2 days today and would take 2 days if the proposed changes occur, but mail from Baltimore to Baltimore that is overnight today would take 2 days if the proposed changes occur,” said Sue Brennan of the USPS Mail Processing and Mail Delivery divisions.
These changes, which are set to take place in Spring 2012, have already caused a national uproar, as readers who have not ridden the wave of new technology are now facing major dilemmas on how to receive their news promptly, or at least while still relevant. Customers of newspapers and periodicals such as the Afro American Newspaper have already seen major changes in their service, with subscribers who usually receive their papers the next day after printing now waiting two weeks.
Slow to sign up for Internet subscriptions, the elderly and the disenfranchised with limited computer access will suffer the most from the proposed cuts.
Highlighting a need for “a line of posts be appointed under the direction of the Postmaster general, from Falmouth in New England to Savannah in Georgia, with as many cross posts as he shall think fit, ” the Second Continental Congress of this Country established the United Sates Postal Service (USPS) in 1775.
Since then, mail has been moved by pony, steamboat, rail, truck, airplane, and other effective mode of transportation to get checks, gifts, news, and unwanted bills where they need to go in a timely fashion.