“This is not something anybody is happy about,” said Mary Dando, spokeswoman for the Postal Service. “It’s a very difficult situation.”
A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Century Center at 120 S. St. Joseph St., South Bend. And postal employees have their own meeting set for 4 p.m. today at the rear of South Bend’s main downtown post office at Columbia and Monroe streets.
“The Postal Service itself is on the brink of financial ruin,” she said.
The post office is being financially hurt by several things, including the movement to e-mail and online bill payment, she said. Annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and it is continuing to decline, according to the Postal Service.
Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail - letters bearing postage stamps - has declined 36 percent in the same time frame.
And because of expanding population, more people now receive mail, said Dando. Also, the U.S. Postal Service deals with regulations, she said, that their competitors, such as FedEx and UPS, don’t deal with.
For example, the Postal Service must deliver to the most difficult spots in the U.S. Private companies, on the other hand, can add a surcharge to such deliveries, an option the post office does not have, Dando said.
Meanwhile the Postal Service runs on a model based from when Richard Nixon was president.
In 1971, it became the U.S. Postal Service, Dando said, changing from a similar name. “And we were mandated to become a self-supporting organization and to be run like a business,” she said.
“And we’ve been doing that. We don’t get the tax dollars.”
Rather, the main revenue is from stamps and postal products, she said. It worked in 1971.
“There was an abundance of mail,” Dando said. “And mail was king.”
Nowadays, the main revenue even still is coming from first-class mail, Dando said.
But back in 1971, 3 percent to 5 percent growth was projected per year.
And that projection worked into the new millennium, she said. “Then of course we know what happened - e-mail, paying your bills on line and this kind of thing.”
Dando said the National Association of Letter Carriers and others support House Bill 1351.
Among other things, the bill would address financial shortfalls created by mandates that the Postal Service fund 75 years of retiree health benefits. The bill would allow the Postal Service to use surplus pension funds to temporarily meet some 2011 obligations.
“Frankly, the Postal Service agrees with them,” Dando said, referring to the bill. “It doesn’t give us all that we need, but it certainly starts.”