After Wednesday's announcement by the U.S. Postal Service that Saturday mail delivery will be cut in about six months, postal service officials said there were no plans for layoffs at local post offices.
U.S. Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe said Wednesday that the postal service would stop delivering mail on Saturdays beginning Aug. 5., to save the financially struggling agency about $2 billion annually. However, it will continue to deliver packages six days a week, and post offices currently open on Saturdays will keep those same hours. Postmasters at local offices were not able to comment on the situation.
Richard Watkins, a postal service spokesman for Kansas and Missouri, said Thursday that it was "too soon to tell" if there would be layoffs or buyouts at post offices in Lawrence or in Douglas County in the future, but he didn't expect there to be.
Even so, he said, the number of postal service jobs at the national level is decreasing. Thousands of employees have left their positions through buyouts in recent years, and the agency is leaving thousands of positions unfilled. The agency expects to lose between 20,000 and 25,000 employees over the next year through attrition, Watkins said, and just last week 25,000 post office clerks and drivers accepted buyouts and left their jobs.
Those changes, as well as shorter hours at some rural post offices and consolidations of mail processing centers, are likely to be seen across the country, Watkins said, including Kansas.
"No one step will put the USPS back on a solid financial footing," Watkins said.
Not everyone agrees with the postal service's strategy. Local representatives of the letter carriers union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, said Wednesday that their position was detailed in a statement released by the union's president strongly opposing the cuts.
Postal service officials say cutting Saturday delivery capitalizes on the agency's strengths. Package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.