WASHINGTON (AP) - The financially troubled Postal Service said
Thursday it may close more than 250 mail processing facilities
across the country and plans to reduce service standards for
first-class mail in an effort to cut costs.
The steps are part of a broad effort to cut costs for the agency
that lost $8.5 billion last year and is facing ever more red ink
this year as the Internet siphons off the lucrative first-class
mail and the stagnant economy holds down the growth of advertising
mail. Over the last five years mail volume has declined by more
than 43 billion items..
"We are radically realigning the way we process and deliver the
mail," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. "With the
dramatic decline in mail volume and the resulting excess capacity,
maintaining a vast national infrastructure is no longer
Postal officials said 252 mail processing facilities across the
country will be reviewed over the next three months for possible
closing. Currently there are 487 such offices. That's in addition
to about 3,700 local post offices also being reviewed for closure.
Closing the mail-processing facilities could affect 35,000 workers.
In addition, the agency said it plans to reduce current delivery
standards for first-class mail. Such mail is now supposed to be
delivered in one-to-three days depending on how far it has to go.
That will be changed to two-to-three days, meaning mailers could no
longer expect next-day delivery in their local community.
Officials said that could have some impact on commercial mailers
but individual customers are not likely to notice the change. They
promised to work with businesses to help solve any problems the
change might cause.
The closings and service changes could save the post office as
much as $3 billion annually and are part of an effort to reduce
annual costs by $6.5 billion. Other savings are being sought
through requests that Congress allow the post office to eliminate
mail delivery on Saturdays and change or eliminate an annual $5.5
billion payment the post office is required to make into a fund to
cover future retiree medical benefits.
Last year the Postal Service had revenue of $67 billion and
expenses of $75 billion.
"Cutting costs is essential to saving the Postal Service and
the 8 million private sector workers whose jobs rely on it," said
Art Sackler, coordinator of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal
Service, an industry trade group. "The Coalition welcomes this
important step and looks forward to the details. But what's needed
even more are fundamental reforms only Congress can make."
Postal Service: http://www.usps.com
List of possible closings: