- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

The U.S. Postal Service will keep delivering for you six days a week.
The beleaguered agency, which faces losses as high as $2 billion this fiscal year, had considered dropping one day of service each week. But yesterday, its Board of Governors decided to scrap that plan.
Postal unions, publishers and members of Congress who had opposed the suggested cut were relieved to hear the news.
"Obviously, we're very pleased they've dropped that foolhardy notion," said Tom Fahey, a spokesman for the American Postal Workers Union, which represents 366,000 postal workers.
He said the idea was rejected by "anyone in the postal community besides a few bozos on the postal board and higher-ups in postal management."
"It was one of the stupidest things they've ever come up with," Mr. Fahey said.
Earlier this year, the Postal Service predicted it would have a deficit of about $3 billion, but in April it amended that figure to somewhere below $2 billion.
"The Board of Governors had asked the Postal Service to do a study on our financial challenges and see if it would save us money or what would be the repercussions to cut out one day a week," Deborah Yackley, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said yesterday.
The agency said it will not make that study available to the public.
The Postal Service has already increased rates twice this year and has frozen hiring and construction projects to keep costs down.
Labor costs account for 76 percent of the Postal Service's expenses, compared with 56 percent for its chief private-sector rival, United Parcel Service Inc., and 42 percent for FedEx Corp.
The agency blamed its financial woes on the slowing economy.
"People don't mail so many packages, buy stamps as often, there isn't as much advertising out there, and not so many bills because people aren't buying things," said Miss Yackley.
Rising fuel and energy costs are adding to the problem, she said.
"We have the largest vehicle fleet in the country," she said. "Every one-cent increase in fuel cost increases our costs by a million dollars a year."
Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the possible elimination of Saturday service. The House and Senate have held hearings on Postal Service reform over the past year.
Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said yesterday that he was glad the Postal Service decided to keep its current schedule.
"At a time when postal rates are increasing, service should be improved first, not reduced," he said.
Moving to five delivery days would have further reduced service that once brought mail to homes and businesses on Saturdays and twice each weekday. The Postal Service phased out twice-a-day deliveries to homes in 1950 and to most businesses by 1969.
The Postal Service said yesterday it would not necessarily have cut service on Saturdays.
"In reality, those who have been looking into this for a number of years say if you were to eliminate one day it might not make sense to eliminate Saturday because then you'd have two days in a row without delivery," said Robert Wientzen, president of the Direct Marketing Association, a New York trade group that represents thousands of catalog companies and commercial mailers. "So you might make it Wednesday or Tuesday."
Mr. Weintzen said his association's members were happy to hear their service will remain the same, but he said they support other efforts the agency can make to reduce its costs.
"We want to encourage them to look at every feasible way of lowering costs," he said, "like closing facilities and finding automation solutions that reduce costs."
* This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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