How the U.S. Postal Service legally justifies five-day mail delivery


For anyone with a background in appropriations law and a little time on their hands, FedLine has obtained a copy of the legal opinion that the U.S. Postal Service is using to justify its decision to end Saturday mail delivery this August.

The gist: The long-standing congressional ban on curtailing six-day delivery doesn’t apply at present because the federal government is operating under a stopgap continuing resolution. And even if did apply, lawmakers don’t have to continue the ban when that resolution expires March 27, Postal Service lawyers write in the nine-page opinion.

The underlying reasoning is complicated enough that even Postmaster General Pat Donahoe had trouble explaining it at the Feb. 6 news conference announcing the planned delivery change. You can read the opinion for yourself here.

But while USPS attorneys say the agency is not flouting Congress’s will, the legal niceties may be lost on some lawmakers. “You said you’re satisfied that you have legal authority–I’m not,” Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., told Donahoe at a hearing last week of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee. “And I’m not sure the committee is,” Pryor added.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., also wasn’t satisfied. Despite “what’s in the law, your lawyer apparently is saying that you can cancel that sixth day,” he said. And while Donahoe pleaded with lawmakers to stay out of the way, Levin suggested that the agency might actually need additional congressional oversight of its contracts with Federal Express and UPS.

“Every contract in this Postal Service is competed,” Donahoe responded.

“That’s fine,” Levin said, “But it’s also the American way that there be some congressional oversight of your contracts.”



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  1. I am happy that Congress (at least some) agree withthe rest of the public. Postmaster Donahoe and his lackies should be dealt with for their misjustice and ignorance pertaining to the law. Raise prices and give less service. That is the USPS way. Next time you see or talk to someone who works in the USPS thank them for their service they provide you. The service is the person serves you, not the USPS way of thinking!

  2. It is good to see someone take the lead and do something. The pmg did come up with a brilliant idea. By haveing 6 day delivery of pakages, any one can still recieve any thing that they really want. 25 year postal employee.

  3. Congress has no right to complain. The USPS has been trying to get postal reform for years. Congress has known the USPS has financial problems but kept putting them off. Once again our govt failec to help their people!!!

  4. I am still blown away that even if five day delivery occurs there is no way anyone gets left in the dust…you simply cannot cram a six day delivery schedule into a five day work week without causing so many problems that will cause overtime every single day of the week…forever. First of all, we will have to deal with another simple fact. A five day work week now becomes a 9.5 hour a day work week. This being the average of dropping one day and taking the difference into five days. What was a six day 48 hour route now becomes a five day 9.5 hour a day route. Now take into consideration that the added workload requires us to enlarge all our cases and cell sizes to accommodate all the mail in this new adventure. Since regulars only work eight hour days this means the CREATION of new routes to bring us all back to eight hour days. For every four routes another MUST be created just to keep us in a normal 8 hour schedule. Now imagine taking all your ‘house to house’ mailings and all the extra parcels that will supposedly be delivered on Sat and Sun. NEVER going to happen. Do you realize how many carriers must be called in every weekend to get these parcels to the street? Exactly…it is impossible. Those parcels will be there Monday morning taking our new 9.5 hour day into V-time. Take into consideration how much mail you will have to take to the street five days of the week instead of six! Many more flats, many more letters, many more ‘house to house” and many more parcels. Do you have a walking route?? WOW! Managers can’t just say get it all out in eight hours as this will be IMPOSSIBLE even for the fittest Postal employee.
    The only cost savings eliminating Sat delivery brings is taking all our vehicles off the street one day per week. This will save millions every week for sure but this cost savings will pale in comparison by the additional hours needed to deliver our new five day work week. I am tired of people saying it eliminates jobs when it increases jobs and most of all it increases stress.

  5. I’m glad to hear Senator Levin say that about additional Congressional oversight of the USPS contracts with Fed Ex and UPS. We sure are doing a lot of their work for them these days. I just hope we’re getting paid more than it costs us to deliver all those parcels for them.

  6. I hope that congress gets it this time. The real losses created by the 2006 year mandate would strangle-hold ANY business!!
    since congress ITSELF is responsible for this mandate-only they can fix it!! Last quarter USPS showed an over 100 million
    profit….of course it was all but eliminated because once again
    the 5.5 billion taken BY congress puts USPS back in the red.

    We Need the action of Senator Bernie Sanders bill s316 which
    would put a STOP to the 5.5 BILLION OVER-FUNDING of the Postal Service. The Office of Inspector General has suggested
    that the USPS has the most over funded health and pension system in THE WORLD …MORE than any other fortune 500 company or any other branch in the government.

  7. I suspect that The PMG’s legal opinion is actually correct. It may flout the will of The Senate; but if you run a government on nothing but band-aid legislation then doors like this open. Moreover, The Obama Administration wants 5-day delivery too. As for The USPS contracts with private shippers, the government hasn’t passed a budget in 4 years. Who the hell are they to lecture The PMG about how to run his business? At least he has a budget for the future.

  8. Don’t bother posting on this site unless you are happy with Donahue or you are a postal worker who knows what is going on and whats going to happen to us…it will be deleted.

  9. Raise prices? Do you really think 46 cents is alot of money to mail a letter? That is the problem as well; USPS has hands tied to how much they can even raise prices. Try mailing that same letter with UPS. I dare say it would cost at least 14 dollars, probably closer to 20 dollars. Take a seat now.

  10. Yes the contracts with UPS an Federal express need to be reviewed. In one contract the USPS lost tons of money paying for planes to fly with no.mail in them. They gave federal express enough money to redo their ground transportation and THE ONLY REASON THAT THEY WANT TO DELIVER PACKAGES ON SATURDAY IS THAT USPS DELIVERS BOTH UPS AND FEDERAL EXPRESS PACKAGES AND THE CONTRACTS HE SIGNED WITH THEM REQUIRES IT. The USPS does not care about universal service or delivery standards. standards it just cares about giving huge discount to corporate America. Look at it New program to let large businesses get the second ounce for free in first class.mail while the rest of America pays full price to subsidize big corporations

  11. Additional Congressional oversight? Given the stellar condition of USPS form said governance in the past decade, surely more will only be an improvement. If only they could find a way in Congress to draft and pass a “cut everyone else’s service not mine” bill, the problem would be resolved. Congress isn’t the biggest worry of the USPS. Time is! As time goes by, and additional insane arbitration results accrue involving COLAs, rising gas prices and dwindling profitable mail volume, the money will simply fail to cover costs. How do you decide which parts to spend limited funds to cover? Employees without vehicles and fuel don’t work well. Buildings without power or water resemble a cruise ship. Perhaps they can cut USPS in for a slice of the Fed budget. Whew, wasn’t sure I could type that without cracking up laughing…

  12. Thank you, Brett. I am a letter carrier with 24 years service with the USPS. I continue working hard every day for my customers, not Donahoe or other management. Cutting to six days will not affect my pay or retirement, but it will eliminate over 30,000 jobs. Also, new employees the USPS is finally hiring are already taking more than $6.50 cut in pay, they will be laid off!!! How’s that for helping create middle class jobs.

  13. 6 days to 5, or 48 hours compared to 40. One friend wrote he is tired of hearing that jobs will be lost, he says jobs will be created. Well the only statement he wrote which is true is TIRED, he will be very tired each and every day. Keep the pipe dreams of adding employees, what are you smoking!

  14. Although people may complain about the cost of first-class stamps, when adjusted for inflation, the cost of stamps remains virtually unchanged over the past four decades – something that cannot be said for health care premiums, homes, autos or almost any other consumer product or service.

  15. Gas went up about 30 cents per gallon in the past week or two. 1st class stamps went up a penny. I am really tired of those who complain about the “high cost” of stamps! With only this one expense, it’s amazing that we could earn a profit at all. Come on Congress! Get rid of your 5.5 billion dollar drain fiasco and let the USPS get back on track!!!!

  16. I must comment on Lou s comment. Facts are that our street time will be of no change, savings. Our office time will change only by 1/6 th volume added each day to the office time only. What were doing on the street we are already doing and we do it once. The 12 to 15 minutes added to your office time is all that will potentially change. Our routes were designed in our hay day of getting 10 to 12 feet of mail a day. Now we get about 3 to 4 working mail per route. Our productivity will in crease due to more mail to work so it will be almost a wash. Lets wake up and look at this realisticly. 5-day is better than no-day delivery. We are a bankrupt company, cutting is what you do to survive. Sorry your math is wrong Lou, no more OT. A more productive Postal Service. Why tihis is a good plan is because of still being open and delivering pakages on saturday. Over 25 years as a City Carrier. Thanks,

  17. Short answer: Saturday’s office time for working mail is the only thing really added to each of the other 5 days work load is the “workable mail time”. With a route than is 1 1/2 hours in office time and 6 1/2 hours in street time for an 8 hour route. So one would tke saturday’s “workable mail time” which is 70 minutes (the other 20 minutes we do already for pulling down the mail and other functions). 70minutes divided into the 5 other days is14 minutes. Thus all will change is 14 minutes added to the office, we allready go to the street. This 14 minutes will be a realistic change of only 8 minutes cause wi have “work to do” and it just gets asorbed into our momentum. Very little change to us……

  18. for all those who think 5 day delivery will make for longer days, you are obviously a union thinker. We don’t have enough mail each day to make an 8 hr day on any given day of the week! Oh, wait….you union slugs have one speed…overtime speed. That is all you care about; not saving the very entity that’s lining your pockets and buying all your toys. Look deeply into any integrity that you might have and be honest. Or is that just impossible for thieves? Yea, I think it is

  19. Dear Lightfer<
    I am impressed that someone has taken the time to comment on the issue of the math in our 5 day predicament. My hat is off to you as opposed to others asking me what I am smoking…whatever…really? So it's a pleasure to respond to you.
    I am a carrier of only 2 years transferring out of the APWU after they tried screwing me out of 1/4 of my pay per year but telling me I was good now as a FTFR. WOW got my thirteen holidays but a gigantic pay cut–no thanx! Steward APWU even implied I should smile and say cheese. I said SEE YA!
    I have enjoyed being challenged in mail delivery especially after I swore I would never do it. I have held many positions in my 23 years. Being a carrier is way cool. I actually thrive on the chaos of the everyday mechanics of delivery. I am not a brain surgeon but I make a great band-aid and that's how I make bank.
    I walk some days (all day) and I am mounted some others. Had to learn 25 routes and double setting like I am a rubix cube. Very challenging plus I am 50 now so the exercise is nice.
    I have to respond politely on the issue of mail volumes and our five day week…I agree mail volumes have declined and they will probably some more. The economics in the USA are not good and business is being pressured tremendously into gutting everything including advertising. Total Operating Expense or TOE even applies to us and we are not used to these terms in the USPS. Lets get used to it and I agree that we should go to five day. I agree with anything that cuts costs. I also applaud any other method to sell our products up to and including raising prices just like our competition does each and every year–oh–and not just by one penny per stamp my new friend!!
    I can't see management arguing that all this can be done in 8 eliminating Sat. From my point of view and the office I work at-it does not seem possible-unless mail volume goes off the side of the cliff. Not sure on this yet-we will see.
    Saturday delivery of parcels is not possible. Just bring in one TE to deliver all the parcels on even one route would be delusional unless they are provided with a smart device to guide them around the route in a coherent pattern that makes the most of their time. Multiply this times 25 routes in our office and I say 'yep' and good luck+it won't happen. All those parcels will be there for us on Monday except the ones Mgt. deems are important enough to get to their destination. This will make every Monday the hell day we have never seen+toss a Holiday in there every once in a while to really wreck it good. Now lob in all the call-ins. I don't know if that's a problem where you work but in all these years here at the PO it's always a problem.
    My biggest question has always been why don't they even attempt to manage the mail flow by rolling heavy days and cutting the OT this way? Does not matter now because with a five day we can't roll anything!
    My question is simple…how do we do this?
    All I see is routes being created, volumes per day going UP. Letters up, flats up and parcels up. Not because the volumes are up but taking a 48 hour route to a 40 hour route increases the daily average. I respectfully disagree that my estimation is this far off. It's hard to e-mail thoughts but I am trying my best to take everything into consideration. This includes call-ins, hold downs, daily volume, casing time and the way we work as Postal Employees. Are you saying Postal employees will move mail at a faster clip then we do now? Isn't this a natural evolution when eliminating 1 whole day?
    I did your math and compliment you for using your mind OMG thank you. I will state then to make the discussion continue that somewhere in your numbers and my numbers lies the answer. Throw in our fraternal brotherhood–some who are the laziest piles of dog doo-doo I have ever witnessed–the attitudes of the dregs–those in the middle and the rest of us that give a hoot and we will have some sense of an answer.
    I am not a regular so you have to view my comments this way as I am the guy who gets dumped on. No problem I am good with this. All I see is More O.T. everyday. Does Mgt. plan on hiring 5 or 10 part timers here? Everywhere?
    Forgive me. I see my math as straight on. We will see!
    Thanks you for your input and I am genuinely interested in your comments.

  20. Hello Lou. Thanks. I understand you a lot better. Yes you are one of those that give 11o % and many around you treat you as if youre doing 80. Your hard work will be discovered by the sensable. So do not give up your work ethic, it will carry you through. Ive been in big city units with large volumes (heavy on the shoulder and shorter on the street) and now im in a small town unit with light volumes( light on the shoulder and long on the street). I prefer the latter. Every unit is different but the effect of the 5 day will be similar. I my self am not a great fan of the unions. I think they dont see the employees as human beings as they claim to represent. But good and bad on both sides sure. I think they are throwing out the baby with the bath water a bit. So I thank the Lord for my Job and treat others how I like to be treated. So dont loose sleep over the politics. But if I understand you right with 2 years in this transitional time were in and not being a regular I think its hard to get a balance cause you as a PTF of TE are expected to clean up each days mess so to speak. Keep your chin up, continue to enjoy carrying. 50 years old and paid to exercise, what a deal. I look at it as a chalenge personally, this adjustment to 5 day. I see them being flexable on mondays load and saturdays will be nice like delivering express all day if you work saturday. You will soon be a regular and you will be able to breathe again. So I see little adjustment where Im at due to a small unit in a small town you may be in a larger unit and have it different. Supposed to be 8% of the carriers as CCAs. That is 1 out of ten almost. TE s are done away with on April 10th. So I think youre going to be fine. Thanks again, L F

  21. So your question “How do we do this”? I think it’s simple. We are only adding saturdays mail volume not the street time we already go to the street the other 5 days. So we only add 12 minutes of work to each day, period, I think its that simple. I think all pakages will be delivered on saturday that come in on saturday, period, that simple. One CCA per ten routes, They will be done by 2 oclock, and then they will case some mail on the routes to make it easier on Monday for the Regulars who will be done crying in a few months, Well, thats how Id do it any way. Oh another point , if the number is 30,000 , its not 30,000 JOBS its 30,000 POSITIONS not JOBS. And these Posistions many are vacant to allow for the T-6 s to be placed. So with attrition, and TE s who simply quit I think the reall Number is minimal as far as people loosing their Jobs. O T minimal too after a few months. Thanks again,


  23. Significant other on

    Levin suggested that the agency might actually need additional congressional oversight of its contracts with Federal Express and UPS. ….. Sounds Like a threat to me. Throw the Blackmailer in Prison!

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