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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Postal service cuts hit home in two ways

By Sarina Trangle
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The Bronx General Post Office located on 558 Grand Concourse may be relocating.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Social Realist Murals by Ben Shahn are on view as at the Bronx General Post Office at 558 Grand Concourse.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Social Realist Murals by Ben Shahn are on view as at the Bronx General Post Office at 558 Grand Concourse.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Social Realist Murals by Ben Shahn are on view as at the Bronx General Post Office at 558 Grand Concourse.
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The U.S. Postal Services to slash Saturday delivery service and consider selling the Bronx General Post Office, a landmark that houses several social realist murals.
Patrick Donahoe, the postmaster general, announced on Feb. 6 that the postal service will halt Saturday deliveries, beginning Monday, Aug. 5.
Package delivery will continue on Saturdays and offices currently open on weekends will maintain the same hours.
Mr. Donahoe said a five-day mail delivery cycle will save the postal service $2 billion annually by reducing the agency’s schedule by 45 million hours.
The postal service has struggled to eek out a profit as more people pay bills online, according to Mr. Donahoe. The agency, however, opted to maintain Saturday package deliveries due to a strong demand for the service and the desire to capitalize on the growth of online shopping.
A 2006 law curtailed the postal services’ financial options by giving the Postal Rate Commission greater authority over the agency’s fees and by requiring the postal service to pay billions annually toward retiree health benefits.
New York Letter Carriers Branch 36, which represents mail carriers in the Bronx and Manhattan, issued a statement calling for Mr. Donahoe to step down because the union says his plan violates legislation mandating a six-day delivery schedule. Though the postal service has unsuccessfully lobbied the legislature to change this law, the office no longer believes it applies.
Charlie Heege, president of Branch 36, said the loss of Saturday deliveries would chip away at the bottom lines of small businesses and the means of communication relied on by elderly and disabled people.
The postal service has not yet determined how employee schedules would be adjusted under the five-day delivery schedule, according to Congetta Chirichello, a spokeswoman for the postal service.
At the Riverdale Post Office, a few customers said they welcomed the five-day mail delivery plan, so long as it protected the West 238th Street office. In 2011, the postal service considered closing 15 Bronx locations, including the Fieldston and Spuyten Duyvil post offices.

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