Save Our Post Offices and Branches

Debby Szeredy

September 19, 2023

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Be on the lookout for Suspensions and Discontinuance of Post Offices. If you are the employee being affected or are a customer and hear or read about a post office possibly being suspended or discontinued/closed, contact your local union as soon as possible. Your union can investigate the situation and may be able to file a grievance.

The Postal Reorganization Act (Title 39) of the U.S. Code protects the public from losing post offices. Any decision of the Postal Service to close or consolidate a post office or facility triggers legal requirements that must be strictly followed. The law requires that the Postal Service consider that it “must provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where Post Offices are not self-sustaining; the economic savings to the Postal Service; and any other factors the Postal Service determines necessary.” “The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal service to bind the nation together through personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to all communities.”

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act Sec. 3691 also requires the Postal Service to reasonably assure Postal Service customers delivery, reliability, speed, and frequency consistent with reasonable rates and best business practices.

But the Postal Service cannot just close an office to avoid complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and it must give affected communities advance notice and a chance to be heard on shutting down their post office. Employees and the Union have rights too, to discuss the impact on employees.

It is important to protect our communities’ postal services and encourage their right to due process, a public meeting, and a challenge to the Postal Regulatory Commission, whenever they are losing a post office that they value. Their fight is also our fight to preserve good postal jobs within their communities.

There are legally required rules that the Postal Service must follow before suspending or discontinuing a post office. Communities have the right to advance notice and to voice their opinions at a public meeting. They can also challenge a closure before the Postal Regulatory Commission. If a post office is unsafe and cannot be repaired, an alternative post office must be researched within the same town to provide services within the community. The community has a voice in making sure the Postal Service knows how valuable a post office is, and that they want a local post office to provide mail and postal services with ease, convenience, and security.

The Postal Service is a service not a business. An example of a suspension that needed to be investigated recently, was where the Postal Service said it was suspending the office due to health and safety and structural issues identified in the building. The union was notified two days later of this notice. According to a newspaper article the lessor said he never heard of any complaints from the Postal Service, nor did he know of the building being unsafe, as his son lives in the upstairs apartment. The Code Enforcement Officer of the town said he had not made any reports at this time. Every suspension or discontinuance of a post office needs to be investigated to make sure the rights of the community and the rights of postal workers are considered and upheld. ■

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