Bill proposes to cut back on post office operation hours

Emily Berman, sophomore in Engineering, prepares a letter to be mailed at the University Station Post Office in Altgeld Hall on Tuesday. Erica Magda

Emily Berman, sophomore in Engineering, prepares a letter to be mailed at the University Station Post Office in Altgeld Hall on Tuesday. Erica Magda

By Erik Allgood

Post office workers’ weekends may get a little longer in the near future.

Legislation has been proposed that would reduce the operation of the post office from a six-day workweek to a five-day workweek, said Kirk Edgecombe, acting postmaster for the city of Urbana.

“We don’t have enough information at this point to be worried,” said Tammy McDivitt, clerk in charge of the post office in Altgeld Hall.

This reduction in operating hours is one of many things that the post office has done in an effort to cope with reduced patronage. It also increased rates and is pushing to increase them again.

Edgecombe said that this measure is partially due to the lagging economy and competition from other companies, but this is also part of an ongoing trend.

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“The way things have changed it is easy to understand why there’s a problem,” Edgecombe said. “We have competition from e-mail and other ways of sending information.”

Edgecombe said that he does not believe this will be a permanent measure and that he thinks the post office will return to its normal six-day workweek once the economy picks up.

“It would be a little more inconvenient for me, especially if it closed on Saturday, because that’s the day that I usually go to the post office,” said Nathaniel Vorderstrasse, junior in LAS. “But I can understand why they are making the shift.”

Edgecombe said he does not know when the changes will take place because they have to go through the levels of post office bureaucracy; the Central Illinois division is part of the Great Lakes division, which is under the post office’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

“I wish they would stay open longer,” said Taylor Leahy, freshman in Engineering. “There’s already a 15 minute wait every time I go there.”

The post office has put a freeze on hiring postal workers and is offering voluntary early retirement as an alternative to firing workers.

“The postal service has a history of not firing workers and does not want to start now,” Edgecombe said.

In the event of bankruptcy, the postal service has the option of borrowing money from the treasury but is obligated by law to pay it back, Edgecombe said.

“We are forced to make our own way,” he said. “No giant government bailouts.”

Edgecombe said he did not know whether this reduction in operating hours will actually solve the problem or just cover up the greater issue: the decline in relevance of the postal service due to newer and more efficient ways to share information.

“I’m confident that there will always be a postal service,” Edgecombe said. “But in what capacity I do not know.”