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USPS changes hit rural communities hardest 

Emily Scott

(Colorado News Connection) Ahead of the busiest season of the year for the U.S. Postal Service, some Colorado labor organizers are voicing concerns about the latest policy changes.

They include new "service standards" that slow down First Class Mail delivery. Mail traveling less than 1,000 miles should reach its destination in three days, and mail traveling more than 1,900 miles will take about five days. The Postal Service also hiked rates for mail, packages and other special services.

Robert Lindgren, political and organizing director of the Colorado AFL-CIO, said he is hearing from postal workers they are worried the changes will affect people who depend on the USPS for their prescription medications.

"In places where other services don't provide service, the Postal Service does," Lindgren pointed out. "And a delay of a few days might not seem that important on its face, but when that's your life-saving medications in a rural community, these sorts of planned delays are not helpful."

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said the Postal Service is hiring 40,000 seasonal workers to help with the holiday rush, and the changes are needed to trim a $160 billion loss by 2030.

Christopher Shaw, an author and historian of the U.S. Postal Service, said he is already hearing reports of how the changes are affecting small business owners. They often depend on First Class Mail and have said the slowdown will impact their 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 noted. "Which could very well lead to degradation of the service that Americans have expected and received over the years."

The changes are part of DeJoy's 10-year plan, called "Delivering for America," which includes modernizing the vehicle fleet and making investments in mail-processing facilities.