Post Office: Expect Big Cuts Starting In Mid-May

WASHINGTON (AP) – With no financial relief in sight, the U.S. Postal Service is pushing ahead with planned cuts to more than 260 mail processing centers around the nation, part of a billion-dollar cost-cutting effort that will slow delivery of first-class mail.

In a statement Thursday, the cash-strapped agency said it had completed a review of closings to mail processing centers it had proposed last fall. Based on community input and other factors, the post office said, it will move forward with consolidations involving virtually all of the 252 facilities on the list, as well as up to 12 new locations, beginning in mid-May.

Of the 264 facilities, roughly 41 won’t be closed or consolidated right away as the post office conducts additional reviews.

The consolidations are expected to result in a loss of roughly 35,000 jobs, which the post office hopes to achieve mainly through attrition. The agency described the move as a necessary cost-saving measure because of declining mail volume as people and businesses continue switching to the Internet in place of letters and paper bills.

The 12 locations added to the list include those in Fort Worth; Corpus Christi; Owensboro, Ky.; Washington, Pa.; Cardiss Collins (Chicago), Ill.; Gaylord, Mich.; Staten Island, New York; Mankato, Minn.; Champaign, Ill.; Atlanta, Ga.; Mid-Florida, Fla.; and Butte, Mont.

“The steps we are taking now will put the Postal Service on a strong financial footing for decades to come,” the agency said in a statement.

The estimated $3 billion in reductions are part of a wide-ranging effort by the Postal Service to quickly trim costs, seeing no immediate help from Congress. It is seeking to close or consolidate more than half of its nearly 500 mail processing centers.

Because the consolidations typically would lengthen the distance mail travels from post office to processing center, the agency also would lower delivery standards for first-class mail that, for the first time in 40 years, will eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.

Last week, the Postal Service warned it will lose as much as $18.2 billion a year by 2015 unless Congress grants it new leeway to eliminate Saturday delivery and raise the price of a postage stamp by as much as 5 cents.

It is asking Congress for permission to make service cuts and reduce annual payments of about $5.5 billion to prefund retiree health benefits. At the request of Congress, the cash-strapped agency agreed to wait until mid-May to begin closures so lawmakers would have time to stabilize its finances first.

But in recent weeks, the Senate and House have stalled as lawmakers differ widely on costs, the level of financial oversight and the prospect of widespread postal closures.

The Postal Service, an independent agency of government, is subject to congressional control on major aspects of its operations. Earlier this month, the Postal Service said its quarterly loss ballooned to $3.3 billion amid declining mail volume and said it could run out of money by October.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is pushing for legislative changes that would stop or delay mass closings of mail processing centers, described the proposed closings as counterproductive. He and 26 other senators recently signed a letter to congressional sponsors of postal legislation seeking to prevent cuts to first-class mail delivery.

“At a time when the Postal Service is competing against the instantaneous delivery of information from email and the Internet, slowing down mail delivery service will result in less business and less revenue, and will bring about a death spiral for this institution,” Sanders said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • YRofTexas

    If the Postal Service were run like a well-tuned business, it would not have been crippled from competition, but would have thrived and become stronger. I recall the PO putting a kid who was delivering mail for his neighbors “out of business”. Such a Goliath as the PO was doomed to fail due to the bureaucratic web that runs in its veins. Needed good management and lacked it from the get-go. Unions didn’t help it to grow, but stifled it, also. Not surprised. Heavy at the top was designed to topple over.

    • Mailman Dan

      “annual payments of about $5.5 billion” required by the government to “prefund retiree health benefits” 125 years in advance… works out to 22 billion a year, which the government spends on “other” things it can’t afford. If they lost 18.2 Billion, i’d say they are running better than most businesses…. that don’t have to give the government 22 billion a year…

      Not even oil companys feed the governments bank like that.. they get “deals” and government money…

  • Posted

    I feel sorry for all those people, they are the true victims. But they make it almost impossible to do any business with them, and when you do…you have to wait in super long lines??? Why is it that a company can have people lined up out the door, but not turn a profit? They close the little satellite offices so now you have to go to the main one. Then they got rid of the self service stamp machines, so now you have to wait in line for 20 minutes for just 1 stamp!!!! (actually happened) They need to have branches open after 5:00 PM so people that work can go use them. I have no love loss for the postal company. They had an opportunity to grab a foothold in the shipping business and just let it slip between there fingers. It’s the worse business model I have ever seen. I completely agree with Sen. Bernie Sanders. Raising the cost of a stamp will only stop people from mailing a letter. They won’t just pay the higher price. Lets face it, a letter today is an option…no longer a necessity.

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  • Gary

    If your post office is just like the expeience I had 5 minutes ago, i am not suprised, I made a mistake on postage with the automated machine and was to feel like an indiot. They need to learn cusotmer service and be run like a business, For those agents that are rude, they need to be FIRED and the Austin Branch by Northcross Mall is the worse, from Manager down

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  • Mailman Dan

    What other company has to pay 5.5 BILLION to “to prefund retiree health benefits” 125 years in advance? Name ONE other company required to do this? If not for the governments ABUSE of this to “balance” their budgets, as well as their stealing of retirement funds from workers accounts, the USPS would be in the black, and could hire more workers for customer service… (over a 2 billion profit we would have got last year alone!)

    However, under the governments plan, they will close offices, cut Saturday services, and add to unemployment. They are doing this to keep those payments coming in, not to “FIX” anything… Lucky for them most people in the world are stupid, and don’t know, or care, what they do…

  • EasyFix

    Correction to the statement that mail is only an option today, for some it remains a mandatory method of bill paying. It’s the only method I have available to pay my trash bill. The U.S. Mail service will always be needed since others cannot securely deliver packages or mail to all locations in the U.S.. Not one of my packages delivered by the P.O. has been eaten by my livestock but several delivered by other carriers has been.
    If Unions did infiltrate the PO, then yes that is exactly the reason for it’s demise. Just like the military service, Unions should not be allowed into anything run by the Government. When you use the term United States, then you should not be entitled to have a Union in your mist. If countries can be toppled by internet communications, then Unions are no longer needed to organize or protect people.
    Throwing more money for them to waste is not the solution (higher stamp prices). If there is less volumes of mail then downsizing is right, yet that needs to be done Nationally on the scale so that every American has to drive just as far to get to a Post Office location for both rural and urban. Each location should have a line for picking up and buying stamps (takes less time to do), one for mailing packages only and one for mailing letters or oversized envelopes. Lowering your prices is how you defeat competition, not raising it to keep up with them. More grunts and less management is also needed along with lower wages especially in management.
    Saturday delivery is nice, but a better option would be to close down one day of week and be open all day on Sat. with delivery for those who can’t make it to the post office before 5 during the week.
    As for paying 125 years ahead of time for retiree health benefits, just end that and reward them with with free VA care since it is good enough for those who put their lives on the line for this Nation. Otherwise close down the VA system and give all your Veterans as good of health care in the public systems as those who worked for the Post Office get. It’s also true a lot of military Veterans work in the Post Office.

    • YRofTexas

      Hey, I like what you say! Great ideas and perspective!

      • EasyFix

        Thanks, I like a lot of your posts also since in a lot of subjects we think of them on about the same level.
        Putting the kid out of business brings up another good point. The cost of delivery to every doorstep or mail box which is huge and adds to pollution. Old people rely on it, thus a system of putting up mail delivery boxes at the end of major rural roads (routes often driven to work or to get supplies) and at the end of blocks in urban areas could save a lot of time and gas for the PO. If there are enough good people left in both rural and urban area’s they won’t mind taking the time to pick up and deliver mail to those who can’t get out to get it. Plus even shut ins have to weekly get food or items brought in, thus however they are surviving being shut in is how they can have their mail delivered or packages picked up. We no longer live in a world where it is safe to leave a package on a doorstep or gate unless someone is there to bring it in right after it arrives. Nor is it safe for mail to set in a box. Technology we have today can easily report if any boxes like that are being broken into.

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