MEMBER ALERT: USPS experiments with new city carrier sorting priorities

Tonda Rush

Jul 22, 2020

National Newspaper Association President Matt Adelman, publisher of the Douglas (Wyoming) Budget, today sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy requesting clarification on possible delays in delivering newspapers under an experimental program called “Expedited to Street/Afternoon Sortation” (ESAS).  The new program directs city letter carriers not to prepare presorted and walk-sequenced mail in the mornings but to move directly to their routes after they arrive.  They will return in the afternoon to sort mail in their cases for the following day.   
Publishers and circulation directors are being told by some postmasters in the program that newspaper bundles will be held for afternoon sortation rather than being worked for delivery in the morning.  If that is the case, newspaper bundles dropped in the later afternoon or evening for next day delivery would be held over for a second day, and overnight bundles for same-day delivery would be held for delivery the following day. 
The experimental program is being tested in several hundred zip codes across the country.  The intent is to limit overtime and focus on what USPS calls its “key product lines,”  according to a USPS directive. 

“NNA hopes we will learn that USPS intends to have newspapers delivered according to today’s service standards,” Adelman said. “Given the high level of presorting done by publishers, there is no good reason to hold this mail for afternoon sorting. Carriers should take the newspapers out if they are at the post office before they begin their rounds.” 
Adelman said the directive has drawn the attention of members of Congress and is being questioned by postal labor unions, who say it will lead to the loss of mail.  NNA has also informed leadership of the oversight committees in Congress of the concerns of community newspapers.  

An unconfirmed list of affected post offices is available here (member-login required).