Cummings: Postal Service cuts would hurt minority groups, single mothers

The U.S. Postal Service's decision to eliminate Saturday delivery could disproportionally hurt minority groups, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee.

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"You're talking about just this reduction … from six days to five days will cut anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 employees. And with regard to Asian, African-Americans, and Hispanics, they comprise about 40 percent of the Postal Service employees," Cummings told Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC Friday night. "So it's logical to believe if they were to lose that 30,000 jobs, easily 40 percent of them would be African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans."

Cummings also pointed out that 40 percent of postal employees are female and warned that many are single mothers.

"So you have a lot of women, many of whom are single women — head of household, and they depend upon that decent wage, decent working conditions and benefits to take care of their families," he said. "So, yes, it would have a devastating effect in an economy that is already very, very fragile."

The U.S. Postal Service, which has been losing money for years due to decreased use, announced earlier this week that it would end normal Saturday delivery to save $2 billion in annual costs. Lawmakers have previously fought hard against such a change, and while there is resistance to the idea this time, the outcry hasn't been as loud.

The Senate passed a bill last year that would have forestalled the end of Saturday delivery for at least two years, but the bill stalled in the House.

Cummings admitted the service was struggling because more and more people were using the internet, and said "some downsizing" was necessary to match reality but that "there are all kinds of ways to achieve this without necessarily going through drastic measures."

"Basically, what the Congress needs to do is do a comprehensive bill whereby we have what we call an innovation officer, which is my idea. And that person would keep the Post Office as cutting edge of innovation and bringing in new ways to of making money," he said. "The other thing we`re going to have to do is we are going to have to do some downsizing. But when we downsize, we have to downsize with compassion. Keep in mind we have more than 100,000 people that are right now eligible to retire. And what we have to do now is make sure that they have a decent parachute to land. In other words, to give them some incentive money so they can go ahead and retire, and so that we can right-size the Post Office."