(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus is urging the U.S. Postmaster General to meet with him and provide a long term plan on Postal Service operations in Montana before finalizing any decisions to close facilities in the state.
In 2006, Baucus successfully stood up against an effort to move the Helena Area Mail Processing center to Great Falls. In his letter to Donahoe today, he said a long term plan is necessary to avoid continuing threats to jobs and service for Montanans.
"Montanans have spoken out loud and clear – we’re skeptical current U.S. Postal Service plans to close and consolidate postal facilities make sense. This process of drastic reorganization is looking to shortchange Montana jobs and the service we depend upon," said Baucus. "While the USPS must address its fiscal challenges, they shouldn’t do so without proper public input and in a way that unfairly affects Montana. I’m looking forward to sitting down with Postmaster Donahoe to help him better understand what we expect so we can come up with a balanced solution."
The Postal Service has revealed plans to close processing centers in Butte, Helena and Havre which would result in the loss of up to 43 postal service jobs. Baucus is also pushing the Postal Service to prove the "savings" behind its plans, while questioning whether the public has had adequate opportunity to weigh in on the process.
Text of letter:
May 2, 2011
Dear Postmaster General Donahoe,
I am writing you today with concerns regarding the consolidation of the Big Sky Postal District with the Dakota District, as well as proposals that would consolidate mail processing facilities and close small town post offices.
Reliable and efficient postal service is critically important to Montana communities. Post offices are anchor institutions in Montana. As the Postal Service reviews the comments it has received on the proposed closures, it is imperative that the voices of Montanans who would be most affected be heard and considered.
Montana is a big state, and families rely heavily on their local post office to stay connected with their loved ones, receive time-sensitive prescription medication, and to operate family businesses. While I understand that the current financial outlook of the U.S. Postal Service is dire, it is imperative that changes made to reduce operating costs do not disproportionately affect rural areas.
In addition to the threat of closing rural post offices, I am also concerned with the possibility that mail processing operations would be consolidated in Montana. This is not a new issue to me. In 2006,1 spoke out strongly against the proposed movement of Helena Area Mail Processing activities to Great Falls. I opposed that because I believed it would cost jobs and adversely impact mail service to and from Montana’s capitol city. In 2007, the Post Office announced that it was abandoning the study of consolidating Helena and Great Falls mail processing.
Now, the same consolidation that I opposed five years ago is back on the docket and it is accompanied by additional transfer of mail processing activity in Havre and Butte to Great Falls. I remain very concerned that these proposed consolidations will all adversely impact the timely processing and distribution of mail and take away jobs from Montanans during difficult economic times.
I strongly encourage the Postal Service to consider the feedback that it has received from Montanans as it considers the proposals for mail processing consolidation. These jobs, and the quality mail service that they help to ensure, are critically important to Montanans.
As the Postal Service works to reduce its costs and put itself on stabile financial footing, I would like to request an appointment with you to discuss the consolidation and closure proposals, as well as the long term outlook for the Postal Service. I appreciate your consideration of my concerns, and look forward to working out a time that we can discuss these issues together.