Eight members of Arizona’s Congressional Delegation, 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans sent the following letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, asking that she take action to stop the deterioration in mail service in the state:
Dear Postmaster General Brennan:
As members of the Arizona delegation we are writing to inform you of the results of an extensive community survey regarding the impacts of the consolidation of the Tucson Postal Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC)/Cherrybell. We appreciate the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement to delay phase II consolidation at Cherrybell into 2016; however there remains great uncertainty regarding how the negative consequences of the consolidation will be addressed moving forward.
The survey, conducted by Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Vice Mayor Richard Fimbres, the Tucson City Council and various local business and community organizations, collected more than 1,700 submissions expressing concern. The vast majority of respondents, 84.0 percent of individuals and 86.0 percent of businesses, reported a noticeable delay in their mail delivery services since the first phase of consolidation stopped the processing of some outbound mail.
Overall, respondents widely reported waiting additional days for medicines, delays in Veterans benefits and medications and delays in receipts and payments for regular business transactions. These delays are not merely a nuisance, but can be costly in terms of health impacts and businesses’ most fundamental operations, such as meeting their payroll. Numerous concerns have been raised regarding a major barrier for non-profit organizations to reach members and potential funders through direct mail. Additionally, there are serious concerns regarding the Phoenix postal center’s ability to takeover timely processing of personal items such as tax payments, bills, school transcripts and personal holiday cards.
We appreciate your efforts to protect Tucson and surrounding communities from the negative impacts of consolidation, but do not believe there is a feasible path forward to address the concerns of the community if the facility is closed. We ask that you review the attached survey summary and provide us with information on how the numerous concerns will be addressed.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today introduced legislation to improve rural mail service and delivery, increase protections for rural post offices, and make sure postal employees are treated fairly in North Dakota and across the country.
Building on what she has heard from individuals from across North Dakota, including through her Fix My Mail initiative, Heitkamp – a member of the Senate committee overseeing the Postal Service – introduced legislation to specifically address the postal concerns and challenges in rural America. Since launching her grassroots Fix My Mail initiative in January 2014, Heitkamp has received stories from more than 200 North Dakotans about issues they have encountered with delayed mail delivery and poor service from the U.S. Postal Service, and she has led efforts to make sure the Postal Service better works for all rural communities. Earlier this year, she brought together the first bipartisan meeting of Senators from rural states to speak with the U.S. Postmaster General.
A vocal advocate for rural America, Heitkamp’s bill would make sure rural states and communities are no longer disproportionately impacted by cuts to mail service. Over the past few years, communities in rural America, including North Dakota, have faced excessive closures of post offices and mail processing facilities, which is increasing delivery times, reducing service standards, and hurting the Postal Service workforce.
In the Dakotas, only about 65 percent of non-local mail arrived on time within three to five days last quarter, which is about 30 percent below the Postal Service’s own annual goal. And from 2001 to 2013, nearly 400 post offices closed across the country, hurting mail service, particularly in rural communities.
“Mail is a critical lifeline in rural America, and all North Dakotans deserve access to high-quality mail delivery and service, regardless of where they live. But in too many places in North Dakota and rural America, that has not been happening,” said Heitkamp. “Through my Fix My Mail initiative, I’ve heard from folks from across our state that they aren’t receiving their mail and prescription drugs on time, or their local post office has had its operating hours significantly reduced. That can’t be the way the Postal Service operates. My commonsense bill aims to address the needs of rural families and postal employees, and will make an honest difference in rural communities across North Dakota. This isn’t the final step to fixing all the problems with the Postal Service, but any effort to do so needs to include these kinds of protections and support for rural America, and I’ll keep building support so we can meet the postal needs of all Americans.”
Heitkamp’s legislation would tackle rural postal concerns and make meaningful changes to better protect rural communities by:
Improving Mail Service Standards – The bill would make sure mail reaches its destination faster by restoring stronger service standards, and place a two-year moratorium on the closure of additional mail processing plants.
Meeting the Needs of Rural Postal Customers – The bill would preserve six-day mail delivery, instead of being added annually in appropriations legislation as it has in recent years.
Protecting Rural Post Offices – The bill would protect rural post offices from closures, require specific procedures for reducing operating hours at rural post offices, and enable communities to formally petition the Postal Service to reverse closures or reductions in hours.
Improve Postal Employee Morale – The bill would establish a Chief Morale Officer within the Postal Service to oversee working conditions, staffing, communication, and training efforts.
Joining Heitkamp in introducing her Rural Postal Act were Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Gary Peters (D-MI). For a one-page summary of the bill, click here. For reactions on the bill from the postal community, click here.
Heitkamp has long led efforts to make significant improvements to mail delivery and service throughout North Dakota’s rural communities, including:
Standing up for Rural Postal Customers – After sharing stories she received through her Fix My Mail initiative with the Postal Service, Heitkamp successfully received commitments from the agency to improve mail service and delivery throughout North Dakota, including keeping more hours of operation at nearly 30 rural post offices in the state. Last Congress, Heitkamp also successfully gained bipartisan support for two amendments to postal reform legislation to protect rural service, improve oversight of service changes in the Postal Service and develop a strategy to better support postal employees in rural America.
Pushing for Accountability and Transparency from the Postal Service – Last March, as part of her Fix My Mail initiative, Heitkamp requested a Postal Service Office of Inspector General review of postal standards and employee issues in North Dakota. The report found that for the past several years, the Postal Service failed to process and deliver mail in a timely fashion, lacked retail windows to meet demand, did not have a plan to address rapid population growth, overworked employees, and rarely met national service standards in the state.
Leading Efforts to Protect the Postal Needs of Rural Communities – In May, Heitkamp brought together the first bipartisan meeting of solely rural-state Senators to meet with U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan about the impacts of mail processing facility closures and service standard reductions, and secured a commitment from the Postal Service to work better to meet the needs of rural America. Later that month, Heitkamp co-hosted a Senate roundtable discussion on rural postal issues, calling on leaders in the postal community to work with her to protect delivery and service in rural America.
Minnesota Senator Al Franken has sent a letter to the Postmaster General to discontinue the rerouting of mail parcels from northeast Minnesota to the Twin Cities. In April, the Postal Service began rerouting mail from northeast Minnesota. Specifically, mail that used to be canceled at the Duluth Processing Center is now trucked to Eagan where that mail then canceled and trucked back into Duluth.
Senator Franken says that he has received many complaints that mail is being delivered at rates that are unacceptable rates. Specifically he says there have reports of newspapers being delivered 10 days late and medicine delivered after it has expired.
WASHINGTON, May 30 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed news that the U.S. Postal Service quietly backed off a self-defeating plan to shutter nearly all of 82 mail sorting facilities which were on the chopping block this year.
Sanders had led an effort in Congress to keep the Postal Service from closing the plants as part of an ill-considered cost-cutting plan by the money-making mail service. Word of the Postal Service decision came in a low-key formal notification yesterday to members of Congress. Continue reading →
Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) — U.S. Representative Rick Nolan is angry that the U.S. Postal Service plans to shut down and consolidate postal services across the country, and cutbacks have impacted Northland mail deliveries.
At a rally on Wednesday, Congressman Nolan stood up with others who support returning the Duluth Processing and Distribution Facility back to a full service operation.
Earlier this year, some of the services provided by the Duluth facility were consolidated to cut costs, and the consolidation took effect last month.
(U.S. Senate) – As the U.S. Postal Service continues to face a budgetary shortfall, Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) want better postal data so policymakers can make informed decisions on how to improve service in rural America.
Tester and Heitkamp wrote Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) Chairman Robert Taub to urge his agency to conduct an in-depth study of rural mail delivery. Continue reading →
The Postal Service has decided to defer most of the plant consolidations that were scheduled to take place this summer as the final stage of its Network Rationalization Initiative. The Network Rationalization Initiative is the multi-phase, multi-year effort announced in 2011 to balance mail processing infrastructure costs against current and anticipated mail volumes and successfully right-size the postal processing network. The decision to defer the next phase of the initiative was based upon operational considerations, and was made to ensure that the Postal Service will continue to provide prompt, reliable and predictable service consistent with the published service standards. The planned consolidation activities will resume in 2016. The Postal Service will continue to implement network efficiencies and to pursue service performance improvements as it has always done.