House Members Seek Moratorium On USPS Plans to Close Post Offices

February 14, 2012

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More than 100 members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe asking him to place a moratorium on plans to consolidate thousands of post offices “until the USPS resolves the numerous problems” identified by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in a Dec. 23, 2011, advisory opinion. The Feb. 13 letter was initiated by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY).

The Postal Service has agreed to a moratorium until May 15; the letter signers seek to extend the moratoriumm until problems identified by the PRC are corrected.

The PRC report blasted the USPS “Retail Access Optimization Initiative,” concluding that the Postal Service lacks sufficient data to predict cost savings from proposed closures; engages in a pattern of inaccurate and overly optimistic estimation of savings; fails to adequately consider whether alternate post offices are located near those targeted for closure, and displays a careless disregard for community concerns.

“The primary commission finding,” according to the report, “is that notwithstanding its name, the Retail Access Optimization Initiative is not designed to optimize the retail network.”

In the letter to Postmaster General, 111 members of the House wrote, “We strongly urge you to rectify these issues within the RAOI before proceeding with any discontinuance studies. The closure of Post Offices, stations, and branches will undoubtedly affect communities and lead to the loss of middle-class jobs.

“We remain dedicated to protecting our nation’s postal service and ensuring that all communities are adequately served by the USPS,” the congressmen concluded.

APWU Applauds Effort

APWU President Cliff Guffey praised the effort to secure a moratorium. “The APWU looks forward to working with members of Congress to strengthen the Postal Service so that is can continue to serve the American people,” he said.

The PRC found “serious flaws in the methodology used by the USPS in developing its consolidation plan for post offices and other retail facilities,” Guffey noted. “We believe these criticisms also apply to USPS plans to close more than half of the nation’s mail processing centers.

“Despite the Postal Service’s inability to substantiate projected savings, the agency is forging ahead with plans to close 3,600 post offices and shut 252 mail processing centers,” he said. “At the same time, the USPS is proposing to degrade service standards – to eliminate overnight delivery for first-class mail and periodicals, change next-day delivery to two days, and extend two-day delivery to three days

“These actions would severely disrupt mail service, eliminate jobs, hurt local economies, and lead to the demise of the USPS,” Guffey said.

The APWU is urging union members to contact their senators and representatives to express their views on three bills that would have an extremely detrimental effect on postal employees.

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