Mail center closures set to begin in May
Postal Service tries to trim $1 billion from its costs
WASHINGTON – 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.
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 estimated $3 billion in reductions is 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.
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