WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Postal Service isn't waiting any longer for permission from Congress to quit delivering mail on Saturdays. It says it's going ahead with plans to start five-day-a-week delivery in August.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the agency's financial condition is urgent, and the change will save about $2 billion a year.
Under the plan, letters would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday. Packages would continue to be delivered on Saturdays.
Mail would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays, and post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open.
The Postal Service has been advocating a shift to five-day delivery for several years, but Congress hasn't approved it.
Congress included a ban on five-day delivery in its appropriations bill. But because the federal government is now operating under a temporary spending measure, rather than an appropriations bill, Donahoe says the agency believes it can make the change itself.
He says the agency is asking Congress not to reimpose the ban when the spending measure expires on March 27.
Letter carriers union denounces move
The head of the letter carriers union says it's a "disastrous idea."
Fredric Rolando is reacting to the announcement that Saturday mail delivery will come to an end in August.
Rolando says the move will hurt "millions of customers" -- particularly businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery. He also says it goes against the will of Congress as expressed over the past 30 years.
But the postmaster general, Patrick Donahoe, says research indicates that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.
It's not clear how the service will be able to eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval. Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages, and it unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. The postal service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations, but it is still subject to congressional control.