19 U.S. states seek to block postal service cutbacks

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Postal Service (USPS) logo is pictured on a mail box
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The state attorneys general of 19 states and the District of Columbia on Thursday filed an administrative complaint seeking to block U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's 10-year strategic plan to close some local post offices, slow some mail deliveries and cut some retail hours.

The states, including New York, California, Michigan and Pennsylvania, asked the Postal Regulatory Commission to review DeJoy's full plan announced in March https://www.reuters.com/world/us/congressional-panel-take-up-us-postal-reform-bill-2021-05-10, aimed at cutting $160 billion in forecasted red ink.

"With little regard for the process or the consequences, these proposals threaten to put our democracy and our people at risk. Americans from all across the spectrum rely on the U.S. Postal Service for their medication, paychecks, and election mail," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

A USPS spokeswoman declined to immediately comment.

The states argued that DeJoy has only asked the Commission to review two components of the plan.

New U.S Postal Service first class mail standards https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-postal-service-finalizes-plan-slow-some-mail-deliveries-2021-08-06, finalized in August, took effect on Oct. 1, revising existing one- to three-day service standards to one to five days and will impact about 40% of first-class mail.

Delivery standards are now slower for about 7% of periodicals. Some major U.S. businesses have sent notices telling customers to account for additional time when mailing bills.

USPS has struggled with poor delivery performance over the past year, facing a huge boost in packages and staffing issues due to COVID-19.

USPS has reported net losses of more than $90 billion since 2007. One reason is 2006 legislation mandating it pre-fund more than $120 billion in retiree healthcare and pension liabilities, a requirement labor unions have called an unfair burden not shared by other businesses.

DeJoy, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, was named to the post in May 2020 and has been accused of trying to gut the postal service. Congress is considering a plan to provide USPS with $46 billion in financial relief over 10 years, including eliminating the requirement that USPS pre-fund retiree health benefits for 75 years.

DeJoy has denied wanting to harm the USPS and told Congress in February the Postal Service was losing $10 billion a year and without reform was "on a death spiral."

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)