By: Lloyd Green Jr.
More changes with the United States Postal Service are leaving consumers questioning the organizations ability to perform its duties.
The United States Postal Service announced Thursday, February 23 that it will close fourteen of California’s mail processing facilities as early as May 15, 2012 as it begins its major consolidation of its national network of mail processing facilities.
This decision was made after the completion of the Area Mail Processing consolidation study that began more than five months ago. In an effort to ensure the future of the nation’s mail system, while adapting to America’s changing mailing trends, the U.S. Postal Service believes that these changes are a necessary part of a larger comprehensive plan developed by the Postal Service to reduce operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 and return the organization to profitability.
Local mail processing facilities affected is the one located in Redding. The closing of the Redding facility will result in the loss of 70 jobs and cause delays for mail taking two to three days to get a letter, rather than the current overnight for local mail as mail will all be forwarded to the West Sacramento facility. Mail will be trucked 161 miles south to Sacramento for sorting, then trucked back to Redding for delivery.
Additionally a mail processing facility south Stockton will close, with an unclear vision on what will happen to the 340 people who work at the facility. Mail currently processed in Stockton will now have to go all the way to West Sacramento before being shipped to its final destination, a journey of at least two days – even when you send a card to your neighbor down the street.
In October of 2010, the United States Postal Service closed the Marysville Processing Facility causing 200 employees there will be relocated or searching for new jobs. Additionally, this closure has caused many delays for first-class mail with delays of seven or more days for mail to reach Williams from Colusa.
The closure will take place within the next three months and affects nearly everyone by making overnight delivery of first-class mail a luxury of the past. County elections offices are worried as vote-by-mail ballots can take up to seven days for the voters to receive their ballots. This is a major problem considering many voters wait until just before Election Day to cast their ballots. Officials recommend returning ballots in person to the Registrar of Voters Office during business hours or in person to any polling place in their county from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen warned the Postal Service over her fears of serious consequences in the presidential election this year. “I implore you: Do not begin closing down USPS processing centers this close to the 2012 presidential election,” Bowen said.
The Stockton and Redding facilities are just one of 223 across the Untied States that will at least partially close under a Postal Service plan to cut $20 billion by 2015. The Postal Service predicts it will lose as much as $18.2 billion a year by 2015 unless cuts are made including eliminating Saturday delivery and raising the price of a stamp by as much as 5 cents.
For the employees of those facilities, the United States Postal Service claims it is working on solutions by preparing a list of possible transfer jobs for those employees since USPS is contractually barred from lying off career employees. However, many employees are optimistic the transferring facilities do not need any more workers – leaving employees scratching their heads wondering what’s next.
The United State Postal Service has also considered an early retirement for many; however negotiations with unions are still under way. It is estimated that 35,000 positions may be eliminated as a result of postal closures nationwide.
The Postal Service is in the midst of a financial crisis due to the combined effects of the economic recession, increased use of electronic communications, and an obligation to prefund retiree health benefits. First-Class Mail volume has deteriorated, leading to significant revenue declines, and the obligation to prefund these retiree health benefits on an accelerated basis remains unresolved. To date, legislative proposals to address the financial crisis remain pending, leaving the Postal Service and the mailing industry it supports in an increasingly precarious position.
Since 2006, First-Class Mail volume has rapidly declined, leaving a mail mix that generates far less revenue than it costs to sustain postal operations. The dramatic decline in mail volume has resulted in an enormous amount of excess capacity within the network, creating significant opportunity for consolidation.
The Postal Service continually assesses its infrastructure, network, logistics capabilities and mail processing operations and constantly makes changes designed to improve efficiencies by making better use of space, staffing, equipment and transportation to process the nation’s mail. ■