In this Feb. 24, 2021, file photo, Nick Mathews, a mail carrier in Newport, walks up West Street. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Maine joined 19 other states on Thursday to challenge a cost-cutting plan from the U.S. Postal Service that will allow up to five days to deliver the most popular class of mail instead of three.

The 10-year plan, which was led by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, went into effect last week after the agency’s board of governor approved it in August. The change to First-Class Mail standards is expected to save $170 million per year out of a budget of roughly $80 billion.

Maine is expected to be one of the states hit hardest by the plan, alongside much of the West Coast and parts of Florida and Texas. More than 70 percent of ZIP codes here would see slower service, according to an analysis from the American Postal Workers Union.

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation have opposed the plan, as has Attorney General Aaron Frey, a Democrat whose office joined a California-led challenge of the plan before the Postal Regulatory Commission on Thursday. The states argue that the plan had to be fully vetted by the oversight commission before going into effect.

“​​If you’re going to make sweeping changes to national delivery standards, you have to do it right,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, said.

DeJoy, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, became a controversial figure after a cost-savings plan last summer slowed mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Maine, the share of First-Class Mail that arrived at least a day late doubled for a time last summer and the plan was mostly set aside amid worries about effects on mail-in voting.

The Postal Service has struggled over more than a decade under declining mail volumes and increased costs, which drove $78 billion in losses between 2007 and 2019, plus a pre-funding requirement for pensions that the agency has defaulted on in recent years.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...