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Posts tagged: U.S. Postal Service

Rural postal cuts would not change processing center closures

Wednesday's announcement that the US Postal Service is considering reductions in hours for 13,700 rural post offices doesn't impact other plans that would close urban post offices, including three in the Spokane area. Those are in Hillyard, Parkwater and Dishman.

That's the view of Ernie Swanson, the USPS spokesman for Washington.

Swanson said the new plan also doesn't change earlier plans by the USPS to shut down some postal processing centers.

That plan, released earlier this year, would close processing centers in the TriCities, Yakima and Wenatchee, as well as one in Missoula.

Those closures would mean additional workers at Spokane's West Plains mail processing center. But a final decision on all those closures will wait until later this year, the USPS has said.  

Unlikely that Congress would approve cutting Saturday mail delivery

Last week a group of Spokane area postal workers and their backers gathered downtown to voice opposition to plans that would shut down hundreds of post offices and dozens of processing centers across the country.

The Postmaster General has said those cuts are needed for the privately funded, non-tax supported Postal Service to eliminate an $8 billion shortfall in its annual budget.
While people debate the issue of whether cuts at that level are needed, others are concerned that the Postmaster General will push plans to eliminate Saturday delivery.
That concern, however, seems to be one that won't gain much support in Congress; any initiative to cut Saturday delivery has to be approved by Congress.
Last week, more than 100 members of Congress signed a letter in support of six day mail, rural post offices and new innovations.
Rep, Don Young (R-Alaska) joined a number of other D.C. legislators in circulating a letter that read, in part:
“Rather than pass legislation which dismantles the Postal Service, Congress must be a partner in building a postal business model for the 21st century,” said Connolly.
“By allowing the Postal Service to innovate and relieving the retirement prefunding obligation imposed by Congress in 2006 we can protect the infrastructure of a $1 trillion mailing industry while maintaining universal service for all Americans—rural, suburban, and urban.”

Area postal service workers rally Thursday, saying mail service will suffer


Area post office workers will hold a rally Thursday in   downtown Spokane, protesting planned cuts they say will degrade mail service.

The rally, organized by the American Postal Workers Union, starts at 4:30 p.m. at 10 N. Post.

It’s meant to call attention to pending cuts and future job losses that the union says are avoidable.

Needing to vastly shrink its budget, the U.S. Postal Service has laid out plans to close more than 220 processing centers and thousands of post office nationwide.

Jack Talcott, a Spokane Valley postal worker and union spokesman, said the closing of processing plants in Yakima, Pasco and Wenatchee will eliminate the one-day delivery Spokane and North Idaho residents currently have.

The postmaster general has said the final decision on cuts and closures would be made on May 15. Talcott said Congress can still intervene and adopt other budget cuts that would avoid most of the closures and preserve existing mail service.

The rally’s goal, Talcott added, is “to educate people so they know what may happen to mail service.”

He said the likely scenario if the three Washington centers are closed would be: all mail normally processed there would be routed to Spokane’s center near the Spokane airport. Even though 22 or so new workers would be assigned to the Spokane center, the extra volume of mail would create a workflow bottleneck.

“It would definitely change what is now a one-day delivery schedule for area mail,” Talcott said.

If Congress makes no changes in the proposed cuts and closures, the postmaster general’s office would start implementing closures and some layoffs in late May. 

USPS will not decide on post office closures until May

Thursday's and today's Spokesman-Review had stories about planned mail processing center closures, and the resulting increase in volume to be felt at the Spokane center near the Spokane Airport.

Still undecided are considerations by the USPS to close post office buildings around the country. At one point the USPS said it might close up to 3,600 post offices as part of an effort to eliminate an immense $3 billion budget shortfall.

Several Spokane area post offices have been on the list for possible closure. Ernie Swanson, the Washington state regional USPS spokesman, said no decision on the post offices will be made until May 15, at the earliest.

On a related matter, the USPS is still trying to find a sub-leasor for office space it vacated at the Crescent Court building in downtown Spokane.

Swanson said no new agreements have been made to sublease the 24,000 square feet in the building. The USPS said last year it's paying about $490,000 per year for that space, formerly used when Spokane ran a regional office. That regional office closed and was consolidated in Seattle.

Spokane would likely gain jobs in U.S. Postal Service shuts Montana centers

UPDATED 11:45 Dec. 6:

After a conversation Tuesday with USPS District spokesman Ernie Swanson, we'll now add these details to the story:

  • In addition to possible western Montana processing center closures, USPS sites in Pasco and Wenatchee that might close would also affect Spokane's processing center headcount.  No firm numbers are being discussed, and it's not certain any of those four sites (Kalispel, Missoula, Pasco and Wenatchee) will be closed.
  • Any closures won't happen until mid to late 2012, Swanson said. Decisions will be made around March 2012. Any closures would take a few months to plan and execute, he said.

Postal officials say the closure of two Montana mail processing centers could add jobs to the Spokane processing center, on the city's West Plains.

No decisions have been made about any closing of post offices or processing centers. The discussion has started getting more focused as U.S. Postal Service officials are hosting meetings with communities that are on the possible-closure list.

About 40 jobs in western Montana would be eliminated if processing operations in Missoula and Kalispell are shut down. 
All the processing from Montana would shift to Spokane, according to plans by the postal service. Spokane's operation would not be reduced.
District spokesman Ernie Swanson offered no estimate on how many jobs Spokane would gain if the Montana sites are closed.
Postal officials say they expect the mail carrier to lose about $5 billion this year. One study estimated that shutting the Missoula center could save an estimated $1.2 million per year. 
Other operations targeted for possible closure are in the Tri-Cities, Wenatchee, Kent, the Puget Sound area and in Oregon.
A decision to make the cuts final will be made in the first quarter of 2012.

Postal Service here says get your own tape, ours isn’t free anymore

Postal Service employees have been given the word:  No more free tape left on retail counters.

Certainly you have to hope even this little bit of savings will make a difference, at a time when the  U.S. Postal Service is looking at losses of at least $10$5 billion in fiscal 2011.

The flyer here, handed out internally to downtown Spokane postal workers, lays out the rules. It sums up the new harsh reality of No More Free Tape. Customers won't find rolls of tape to use on packages or containers. In other words: buy your own, or buy tape from the post office.

Another sign of the new hard reality: The Postal Service is giving customers notice they should return any stolen items.

A Nov. 11 Washington Post story noted: Starting Saturday, the cash-strapped delivery service said, it is giving customers two weeks to return stolen equipment, no questions asked.

The USPS spent nearly $50 million last year replacing equipment that was stolen or inadvertently taken and never returned by customers, officials said this week, labeling such thefts “a serious issue.”

“We are in a financial crisis and simply cannot afford this type of unnecessary expense,” said David Williams, vice president of USPS network operations. “The equipment is federal property, and we want it back.”

US Postal Service lists parcel shipping deadlines for the holidays

Despite the dour forecasts for the U.S. Postal Service, they still do a solid job during the holiday season.

They helpfully notified us of their recommended shipping deadlines for customers sending items domestically; so here they are:

First class mail, cut off date Dec. 20

Priority mail, cut-off date Dec. 21

Express mail, cut-off date Dec. 22

Parcel post, cut-off date Dec. 15 

First class postage will go up by a penny in January

First class postage stamp prices are going up by 1 cent starting in January, the U.S. Postal Service said Tuesday.

The cost of a first-class stamp — also known as a Forever Stamp — will climb to 45 cents on Jan. 22, the first price increase in more than 2 1years, USPS said.

Other costs, including the price of mailing magazines, standard mail and some package services, will also go up.  Express Mail and Priority Mail prices will not change.

The goal is generating an additional $888 million in revenue, postal officials said Tuesday.

The Riverside Station’s big move: who will feel it most? Plus, bonus name trivia

Some leftovers from last week's big announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will move out of the downtown Riverside post office.

First: some of the area's businesses will feel the impact. Close to 1,000 post office boxes are rented at the Riverside office, and many belong to nearby businesses. Those boxes will also move out, in the first half of 2012, when the downtown station is relocated.

Question One: Who's going to feel the relocation the most?  Vote for your choice.

  • A) U.S. District Court and its associated offices (judges and magistrates).
  • B) U.S. District Attorney's office (in the Foley building).
  • C) The big law firms in the Lincoln Building across the street.
  • D) The Cowles Company, which relies on the post office for inbound and outbound mail.

Another tidbit: the downtown Riverside office was never known as the “Main” post office, according to our historical research. The “main” office is by tradition the name only for the one that houses the local postmaster's office.

The current postmaster, Karen Fairlee, didn't move into the downtown office until 2000. Fairlee said the head office, before then, was at the old Terminal Annex, where Gonzaga's baseball field is now.

“The postmaster moved downtown in  2000 and since everyone knew (the downtown office) as “Riverside” (because that had been the office name for 90 years), the designation was not officially changed,” Fairlee explained in an email.

“Currently, the proper title is the Riverside Station,” Fairlee added.  

The Riverside post office’s history includes the notorious office ‘sneak hole’

Today's story about the plan to close the Riverside Avenue Post Office and relocate in a smaller building downtown provokes this question:

How will this affect your regular life?  As a business person, what's the impact?  As a regular or occasional user, how does it change things for you?

The justification for the move is clear; the US Postal Service doesn't need that much space, especially after sending the carriers who use it to another office.

We found a few interesting tidbits while conducting research. One of the most interesting is this item found in the GSA archives of its historic buildings: 

In additition to the ornate floors, the building contained a common feature in post offices of the era. The “sneak hole” was a specially constructed, enclosed gallery located above the postal workroom that allowed inspectors to secretly observe the actions of employees through strategically placed peep holes. The “sneak hole” is no longer in use today.


What would you do if those three Spokane area post offices close down?

A news item this morning reports the possibility that a number of area (Eastern Washington, North Idaho) post offices could be closed.

Which leads to the question: what's the best next use for any of those buildings that do might close?

Three Spokane area offices are on that possible list: those in Hillyard, in Dishman and Parkwater.

I'm eager to hear what you'd propose be the best next uses for those locations, assuming they could be converted. 

No, not another Starbucks. My suggestion: Hillyard's post office becomes a guitar-making studio and woodworking shop.

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John Stucke John Stucke is a deputy city editor who helps build local news coverage and writes about health care, bankruptcy and rural affairs.

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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