BISMARCK, North Dakota -- The majority of North Dakota's counties are rural. Opponents of new U.S. Postal Service standards argued it spells trouble for the state, with customers now seeing slower mail delivery.
This month, the Postal Service implemented cost-cutting moves, including a longer delivery window for some first-class mail, stretching to up to five days. Rural areas, senior citizens, and low-income customers are expected to be hardest hit.
Sharyn Stone, central regional coordinator for the American Postal Workers Union, said when broadband connection gaps are factored in, there is a risk of further isolating rural populations.
"Sometimes, for the smaller communities, that's the only way they can get access to information, if it's mailed to them," Stone observed. "Also, if they have medications coming and other things that are normally mailed, it's going to take longer for 'em to get there, and they may have to go further to get 'em."
A reduction in retail hours also is part of the ten-year plan, along with higher fees, some of which are temporary through the holiday season. The Postmaster General claimed without the moves, the organization is looking at $160 billion in losses over the next decade.
Christopher Shaw, an author, and historian of the U.S. Postal Service said there are anecdotal reports of how the changes are affecting small businesses. They often depend on first-class mail and have said the slowdown will impact day-to-day operations.
Shaw thinks some may turn to other delivery providers, which could lead to further privatization of the industry.
"These changes are part of a trend where the Postal Service is conceived of not as a public service, and instead, more like a for-profit business," Shaw explained. "Which could very well lead to degradation of the service that Americans have expected and received over the years."
Nearly 20 states recently filed a complaint, asking for a more detailed review of the plan by the Postal Regulatory Commission, which had already questioned some of the changes.
Source: Prairie News Service