The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is accelerating its plans to consolidate mail processing plants, adding dozens of those originally scheduled to be closed in 2014 to the list of facilities already set to be shuttered this year. It made the announcement in a letter it sent last Thursday (March 28) to Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which represents many of the employees at those plants.
As we reported numerous times last year (click on USPS on the list of “Categories” to the right), USPS has been shrinking and planning for further downsizing—including the closing of retail facilities and processing plants, as well as the reduction of service standards—for years. Last July, USPS began a three-phase downsizing effort aimed at cutting the number of area mail processing (AMP) plants in half (from 460 to about 230) by the end of 2014. Forty-eight were closed last year; in January 2013, after the USPS Board of Governors issued orders to the Postal Service to speed up its cost-cutting efforts (in response to Congress’s failure to pass postal reforms in 2012), it said it would accelerate 18 AMT closures from 2014 to this year. Last week’s announcement of 53 additional accelerated consolidations of facilities—in communities from Akron, Ohio, to Waco, Texas—brings the number of accelerated closings in 2013 to 71, meaning that a total of more than 140 will be shut by the end of September 2013. The remainder will be closed next year.
As we might have expected, the reason cited for the accelerated closing schedule was “the Postal Service’s dire financial conditions.” USPS expects the closings to result in annual savings of about $1.2 billion.