Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) pressed the U.S Postal Service to reconsider its plan to close four mail processing centers throughout Minnesota. The closures, he said, will hurt Minnesota’s rural communities and drive more and more customers away from using the Postal Service.
In a letter to the Postmaster General sent Wednesday, Sen. Franken said that shutting down these facilities is a shortsighted, irrational plan that will ultimately degrade customer service and cause more harm than good.
“These closures will hurt the communities that house these facilities, and the greater regions that they currently serve,” wrote Sen. Franken in his letter. “I understand that the Postal Service is under severe financial strain… But closing facilities, uprooting employees, and degrading your customer service will only cause more harm. I would therefore urge you to avoid deteriorating mail service in Minnesota and to refrain from closing additional facilities.”
In addition to urging against the closure of four processing centers across Minnesota—in Bemidji, St. Cloud, Mankato, and Duluth—Sen. Franken also called for legislation to reform the Postal Service. Last Congress, Sen. Franken helped push a bipartisan reform bill through the Senate to restore financial stability to the Postal Service. Included in the legislation was an amendment he wrote to prevent closures likes these from happening. The U.S. House of Representatives, however, failed to act on the bill.
You can read Sen. Franken’s letter to the Postmaster General here or below.
July 2, 2014
Dear Postmaster General Donahoe:
I write today to urge you to reconsider your plan to close four processing centers in Minnesota. These closures will hurt the communities that house these facilities, and the greater regions that they currently serve.
First, I am concerned that any financial savings derived from this action will be negated by the subsequent deterioration of service, which will drive more and more customers away. In a letter sent to me announcing the plan, Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman wrote that, “The Postal Service continues to face significant financial challenges associated with the decline in First-Class Mail volume and revenue.” This comes after a year of changed service standards, which shifted mail that had been subject to an overnight standard to either the 2-day or 3-5-day service standard. The closures of these facilities will only further deteriorate mail delivery times. I struggle to see how the deterioration of service will help solve your stated problem of declining mail volume.
Second, these closures have already hurt communities in Minnesota. The closures were announced as part of a “network rationalization” plan. The first wave of closures included a processing center in Rochester, Minnesota. I’ve heard from my constituents that as a result of this closure, a letter sent from one Rochester address to another in the same city now travels all the way to the Twin Cities, and can take up to eleven days to get back down to Rochester. There’s nothing rational about that.
I understand that the Postal Service is under severe financial strain, which is why I supported bipartisan Postal Reform legislation that passed the Senate last Congress. Unfortunately the House did not consider that bill, and work remains in Congress. But closing facilities, uprooting employees and degrading your customer service will only cause more harm. I would therefore urge you to avoid deteriorating mail service in Minnesota and to refrain from closing additional facilities.