WASHINGTON—The U.S. Postal Service plans to end Saturday delivery as part of a strategy to halt losses at an agency that hemorrhaged $15.9 billion in its most recent fiscal year, according to the Wall Street Journal online.
The Postal Service is set to stop Saturday mail delivery to homes and businesses on Aug. 1 but will continue to deliver packages that day, a spokesman said Wednesday. Post-office boxes would continue to receive mail on Saturdays. Postal officials are scheduled to announce a broad cost-cutting plan later Wednesday.
Many American rely on Saturday mail to receive such items as newspapers, NetFlix movies and bills. Postal carriers pledge that "neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail" can stop deliveries.
Ending Saturday delivery "would be particularly harmful to small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication," said Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, a union representing many mail carriers.
The plan to end Saturday delivery could meet resistance from members of Congress, and it is unclear of the agency can take the step without lawmaker approval. For many years, the annual appropriations bill has contained a rider that prevents the Postal Service from ending Saturday delivery.
Legislation in the Senate last year would have put a two-year moratorium on ending six-day delivery and called for additional study to be completed. The House never took up the bill.
The Postal Service, however, says there is broad support for the cost-saving move. The agency plans to point to a study showing that about seven in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery.
"The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation," Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said in remarks prepared for Wednesday's announcement.
"The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail."
In other efforts to cut costs, the Postal Service has closed or consolidated dozens of mail-processing plants and relocated or cut hours at many post offices.
The annual loss for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 was the largest in Postal Service history. The loss in large part reflects a default on $11.1 billion in required retiree-health-benefit payments and the continued decline in first-class-mail volume.
The Postal Service is set to release results for October through December, typically its most profitable quarter, on Friday.