True to form, the U.S. Postal Service said it intends to diminish conventional mail delivery service to newly built homes going forward and, apparently, hopes nobody will notice.
To justify this service reduction the USPS is trotting out its usual rhetoric about how it will save money amidst its perpetual multi-billion dollar deficits. There’s no way shuttering a few post offices and drop-off boxes is going to raise enough money to pay down the deficit Congress created in the 2007 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. That supposed reform act saddled the USPS with an unsustainable $5.8 billion-a-year obligation to pay healthcare costs for future retirees.
According to Government Executive, the USPS declared in an update of its Postal Operations Manual that it will no longer deliver mail to the doors of new houses https://www.govexec.com/management/2018/05/new-addresses-usps-will-no-longer-deliver-mail-your-door/147985/.
It’s unclear when and how widespread this cluster box practice will become. In fact, the USPS says this notice is just “clarification” of its existing practices
What the hell is the postal service’s problem? Does the country’s oldest and most trusted public agency really think it can get away with walking away from its basic mission without a fight?
The movement toward relying more on cluster boxes idea is really just another part of the USPS’s service reduction that began in 2011 when it began shedding both post offices and distribution facilities all over the country. Besides the ostensibly trying to improve efficiency, the USPS was also apparently seeking to reduce the size of its workforce hence the power of its labor unions.
Despite rhetoric from the mailing industry and others that the postal service is overstaffed and in many cases redundant, closing post offices affects many ordinary people—especially those with lower incomes and disabilities that cannot travel far from their homes.
People in rural areas are particularly suffering from post office closures and service cutbacks, as reports The Nation https://www.thenation.com/article/in-rural-america-the-postal-service-is-already-collapsing/. One way in which this manifests itself is fewer and fewer rural carriers are required to cover more ground often at great risks to their personal safety. These rural postal carriers are the last resort for delivering packages in areas that the likes of United Parcel Service and Fedex shun because they can’t make enough money there.
Thankfully, the USPS has been stopped legally from shutting all its locations. Recently, a court ruled the postal service cannot arbitrarily walk away from its historic post offices and just sell them off.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in Berkeley CA ruled against the USPS when it sued the California city when it rezoned the area around its main post office to prevent it from selling off the property to real estate developers, according to Berkeleyside.com http://www.berkeleyside.com/2018/05/15/federal-judge-rules-in-berkeleys-favor-in-fight-over-post-office.
In 2016, the USPS sued Berkeley contending that it had no right to declare the areas around its landmarked main post office as a historical district even though the building dated back to 1914 and held deep significance for the city.In throwing out the claim, the judge rejected the USPS’s argument invoking the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution which grants the post office greater rights over localities in land use disputes.
No word yet on whether the postal service will appeal this decision but the USPS may do so because this uling may set a precedent for other building selloffs.
Protests against shuttering Berkeley’s main post office building sale began in 2012. They got so heated that longtime consumer rights and political activist Ralph Nader got involved, going to the city to encourage local activists in their fight to prevent the deal from going through.
At least so far they seem to be successful.