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When the Postal Service announced its plans to close several large mail sorting facilities across the country in a cost savings measure, few residents understood the impact of these closings. 

Right here in West Union, postal customers are starting to see their mail service change.  Mail trucks that once went to the sorting facility in Clarksburg are now taking mail all the way down to Charlestons sorting facility.  This is causing at least a full day delay in service and in some instances two days or more.  Periodical subscribers will get their news a little later than usual.  Some customers in out-of-county zip codes will see a delay in receiving newspapers and magazines

Add to that the Postal Reform Act of 2013 and you have a perfect storm brewing of unhappy customers and mail carriers.  But don’t take this out on your local carrier, this is a directive from Washington DC and the Federal Government.

Understanding the Reform Bill

Regular mail delivery could be cut to five days a week - or less - and door-to-door delivery would be studied under provisions of the U.S. Senate’s latest attempt at Postal Service reform. 

The Postal Reform Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Tom Carper, D-Del., has already drawn fire from postal employees who fear it will further degrade service standards and make the Postal Service less competitive by eliminating jobs and closing sorting stations. 

“It’s all about customer service,” said one postal employee “If we’re not taking care of their needs, it isn’t going to work.” 

Senator Coburn, ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees the Postal Service, said the bill, introduced this month, is likely to change substantially. 

“This proposal is a rough draft of an agreement, subject to change, that I hope will move us closer to a solution that will protect taxpayers and ensure the Postal Service can remain economically viable while providing vital services for the American people,” Coburn said in a written statement. 

Carper, chairman of the committee in charge of the Postal Service, sounded a similar note. 

“The bill that Dr. Coburn and I introduced ... presents a comprehensive and bipartisan solution to the Postal Service’s financial challenges,” Carper said. “This bill isn’t perfect and will certainly change as Dr. Coburn and I hear from colleagues and stakeholders, including postal employees and customers. But the time to act is now.” 

The national presidents of the four postal worker unions have asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to back a competing bill sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., but there is some optimism that the Carper-Coburn bill will move Congress closer to a resolution of the Postal Service’s deteriorating financial situation. 

The Postal Service lost $15 billion in 2012 and is expected to lose $6 billion this year, though postal unions point out that more than half of those deficits were because of pension funding requirements far in excess of what is needed to keep the system financially sound. 

Among the bill’s other provisions: 

  • Delivery would be allowed on five or fewer days per week no earlier than one year after enactment; package delivery would continue six days a week for at least two years, with seven-day-a-week package delivery where it is financially advantageous to USPS.
  • New addresses would not receive door-to-door service, and the Postal Service would be required to study the feasibility of alternate delivery for existing addresses. In towns and cities, this most likely would take the form of cluster boxes similar to those in apartment complexes.
  • Shipping of wine, beer and distilled spirits would be allowed.
  • Employee and spousal benefits would be reduced.
  • A three-year moratorium would be put on payments to over-funded pension plans.
  • Current first-class and periodical delivery standards would be lifted after two years.
  • A two-year moratorium would be placed on closing or consolidating mail-processing centers.
  • Current ban on new “non-postal” products and services would be lifted.