But GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, bemoaned the decision to back away from a "delivery schedule that polling indicates the American people understand and support."
Postal officials said that to restore the service to long-term financial stability, the agency must have the flexibility to reduce costs and come up with new revenues.
"It is not possible for the Postal Service to meet significant cost reduction goals without changing its delivery schedule — any rational analysis of our current financial condition and business options leads to this conclusion," the board statement said.
An independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control. It lost nearly $16 billion last year — $11.1 billion of that due to a 2006 law Congress passed forcing it to pay into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does.
"Given these extreme circumstances and the worsening financial condition of the Postal Service, the board has directed management to seek a reopening of negotiations with the postal unions and consultations with management associations to lower total workforce costs, and to take administrative actions necessary to reduce costs," according to the statement. It offered no giving further details.
It said the board also asked management to look at further options to raise revenues, including a rate increase.
Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, scoffed at the idea of renegotiating labor contracts, saying that suggestion "is yet another sign that the Postal Service needs new executive leadership."
He also contended that ending Saturday delivery would cut mail volume and revenue, and send the Postal Service "on a death spiral."
The Postal Service already is executing a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations. Since 2006, it has reduced annual costs by approximately $15 billion, cut its workforce by 193,000 or 28 percent, and consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations.