Postmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled his 10-year strategic plan for the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday, which includes higher postage rates, some slower services and reduced post office hours aimed at cutting red ink.
“The need for the U.S. Postal Service to transform to meet the needs of our customers is long overdue,” DeJoy said in a presentation of the plan online with other postal officials. DeJoy said unless changes are made soon, the postal service stands to lose $160 billion over the next decade.
“The Postal Service’s problems are serious, but working together, they can be solved, he said. "Our 10-year Plan capitalizes on our natural strengths and addresses our serious weaknesses.”
Among the cost-saving measures he announced is a plan to "modify" first class delivery services by shifting transportation "from unreliable air transportation to more reliable ground transportation."
"First-class mail traveling within a local area will continue to be delivered in one or two days and 70 percent of first-class mail will continue to be delivered within three days or less," the agency said in a release detailing the plan, which NBC News reported on last month.
DeJoy also said prices would likely increase for mail and packages, but said he couldn't predict by how much or how widespread the price hikes would be.
"We are dedicated to competitive pricing," Dejoy said.
The report also suggests hours could be reduced at some post offices, but is vague on how much and where. "Building on the success of our past efforts to evolve our retail network while continuing to fulfill the needs of our customers, we will further align Post Office hours of operation to local use," the plan says.
But the plan isn't all cutbacks: It expands seven-day package delivery and includes tens of billions of dollars in investments, including "enhanced package delivery services for business customers" and $40 billion "in workforce, new vehicles, improved Post Offices, technology improvements, and infrastructure upgrades."
"This is a very positive vision," DeJoy said.
It also calls for Congress to overhaul the way the USPS funds it pension and health care benefits.
American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein said the plan "contains both positive attributes as well as some proposals that should be of concern to postal workers and customers."
Dimondstein hailed the plan's employee recruitment and retention strategy, and its goals of creating more community based services and maintaining six-day deliveries. But he said, "We have deep concerns about other elements of the plan that, if implemented, would fail to meet its stated goal of providing ‘service excellence.’"
"Any proposals that would either slow the mail, reduce access to post offices, or further pursue the failed strategy of plant consolidation will need to be addressed," Dimondstein said.
Democrats broadly oppose DeJoy’s changes, and it is unclear how much of the plan he will be able to implement.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said she was "extremely concerned about the Postal Service’s unacceptable decision to make permanent slower mail delivery."
The plan "should not be implemented until Congress and the American people have the opportunity to fully review it and provide substantive feedback,” Maloney said.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., ripped the plan as "draconian" and said it "guarantees the death spiral of the United States Postal Service.”
"The only way to right this ship is new leadership, a better vision, and a realistic plan that serves all Americans,” said Connolly, who chairs the House oversight panel's Subcommittee on Government Operations.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden nominated three new members to sit on the USPS Board of Governors, which would give the board a Democratic majority and the means, if it chooses, of firing DeJoy.
It’s not clear when the Senate will vote on those nominations, but advancing them does not appear imminent.
In the meantime, the current Board of Governors does not intend to wait for the confirmation of the new board members to begin implementing DeJoy’s plan, a source with direct knowledge told NBC News.