EO Media Group, owner of the La Grande Observer and Baker City Herald, recently announced its decision to switch from local contract paper delivery to the U.S. Postal Service.
The reason given is the difficulty in finding responsible carriers. Since La Grande's printing press broke down, printing has been outsourced to Pendleton. Transporting papers from Pendleton to La Grande and Baker City is currently the company's responsibility. Under the new arrangement, papers will be loaded directly from the Pendleton printing office onto postal service trucks and delivered to La Grande and Baker City post offices. Outsourcing the trip over the mountain as well as delivery to subscribers will now be handled by the U.S. Postal Service.
Rural route carriers require dependable vehicles to handle all kinds of conditions. Presumably the job helped make payments. In town delivery provided extra income for adults. Carriers were given the mandatory 30-day notice. However, as contract workers they will receive no severance pay.
The carriers' connection to the lives of subscribers and thus to the social fabric of our community was made clear in "A salute to the unsung news carriers" (The Obsever, Jan. 24). They delivered far more than papers to our community. That sort of casual but attentive connection is virtually impossible to replicate.
Subscribers could cushion their carriers' transition by giving a final gift by the end of this month.