2011 September 15 - postalnews blog

Archive for September 15th, 2011

Sen. Carper Statement on USPS Announcement Regarding Changes to Its Distribution Network

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, released the following statement on the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement regarding changes to its distribution network:

"Obviously I am deeply saddened to learn that the Hares Corner processing center in Delaware has been included in the U.S. Postal Service’s list of nearly 250 distribution centers around the country – including two others in our region – that will be studied for closure. It is painful any time the possibility emerges that a community could lose a postal facility – be it a post office or a distribution center – and I know that communities in Delaware and around the country are struggling with the ramifications of the Postal Service’s proposals.

"Like the recently released list of 3,700 post offices also being studied for closure, today’s announcement is just the start of an official process that must be reviewed by both the Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission. This review process involves a public comment period and additional studies on the impact this decision could have on the affected community before it can move forward. I will be following the review process closely to ensure that it is transparent and fair to employees and customers – both business and residential – in Delaware that depend on the Hares Corner facility.

"Today’s announcement is part of an ongoing effort by the Postal Service to streamline its business operations to reflect reduced demands for its services. This dramatic step of proposing to close hundreds of distribution centers around the country underscores again the very dire financial challenges it faces. The hard truth is that, if nothing is done, the Postal Service is going to lose $10 billion this year. Congress and the Administration must act quickly to help the Postal Service save itself. Failure to act will result in the Postal Service being insolvent within a year, if not sooner, bringing more pain to communities across the country and wreaking havoc on our already fragile economy."

via Press Releases – Newsroom – Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware.

DMA urges members to lobby Congress to throw out USPS union contracts

The Direct Marketing Association today sent a letter to its members urging them to call on Congress to allow the US Postal Service to renege on the contracts it has negotiated with its employees.

The only way to ensure that the Mail remains a viable marketing channel is for Congress to remove USPS’ shackles and let it operate as a real business. The Postmaster General has lots of ideas about how to put USPS on the right track while keeping the Mail affordable for your business. All he needs is the authority to make those changes.

The Postmaster General’s “ideas” include ignoring the no-layoff clause he agreed to just a few months ago, and eliminating federal health and pension benefits for postal workers.

Ironically, the DMA claims to be concerned about jobs, saying “This is not the time to lose American jobs.”

That concern apparently doesn’t extend to the jobs of postal workers.

Update: The DMA’s Jerry Cerasale posted the following comment in response to our story:

For full disclosure, I am a Senior Vice President at DMA. The article makes an incorrect conclusion. DMA did not call for the abrogation of union contracts. The DMA call to action says to “remove USPS’ shackles and let it operate as a real business. I don’t recall that real businesses can “throw out union contracts.”

With all due respect, I would point out that the letter the DMA asked its members to send to Congress says

The Postmaster General (PMG) has asked for authority to help him avoid insolvency for the USPS. He needs the tools that private sector CEOs have to control pension and health care costs their employees and retirees, and to eliminate excess capacity in mail processing plants, retail outlets and employee complement.

Congress should grant the PMG’s request. It is vital that the USPS eliminate its excess capacity because its customers – including my company – cannot afford to continue paying for that excess capacity in light of shrinking mail volume.

The PMG’s request was very specific: “Allow the Postal Service to establish its own health benefits program, Allow the Postal Service to administer its own retirement system, Give the Postal Service the ability to adjust the size of its workforce to match operational needs and the changing marketplace.”

All of those items are covered by provisions in the contracts the USPS has with its unions, including the APWU contract that is just a few months old. The PMG isn’t asking the unions to renogotiate the contracts- he’s asking Congress to throw them out. How can you say “Congress should grant the PMG’s request”, and then turn around and say you’re not calling for the abrogation of union contracts?

via DMA Urges Members to Take Action to Keep Mail Viable.

APWU Denounces USPS Plans to Dismantle Mail Processing Network

APWU President Cliff Guffey condemned USPS plans to study 252 mail processing facilities for possible closure, saying widespread closures would “dismantle the mail-processing network.” On Sept. 14, the USPS released a list of offices where studies will take place.

“The Postal Service should be urging Congress to address the cause of its problems – not slashing service and demolishing its network,” the union president said.

A 2006 law has pushed the USPS to brink of insolvency by imposing a burden on the Postal Service that no other government agency or company bears. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act requires the Postal Service to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees. The mandate, which forces the agency to pre-fund a 75-year liability in just 10 years, costs the USPS more than $5.5 billion annually.

“The mail processing network is a major asset,” Guffey noted. “Destroying it is misguided and counterproductive.

“Degrading service is not the answer to the Postal Service’s problems,” he said, noting that extensive closures would force the USPS to reduce delivery standards and delay mail delivery. “The Postal Service should be looking for ways to strengthen service and increase its relevance in the age of digital communication.”

Guffey said he was extremely displeased by the Postal Service’s refusal to provide the union with any advance notice of its plans.

Mandatory Standup Talk

USPS Presentation on Network, Service Changes

Plant Closing List

USPS Network Presentation

Network Changes FAQ

Service Standards FAQ

Text of Service Changes for Federal Register

Postal Service Faces New Reality

Here’s the USPS press release on today’s announcement. Click here for the list of facilities being considered for closing.

WASHINGTON — Faced with a massive nationwide infrastructure that is no longer financially sustainable, the U.S. Postal Service today proposed sweeping changes designed to save the organization up to $3 billion a year by cutting its network of processing facilities by over half and adjusting service standards.

Proposals under consideration include studying nearly 250 processing facilities for possible consolidation or closure, reducing mail processing equipment by as much as 50 percent, dramatically decreasing the nationwide transportation network, adjusting the workforce size by as many as 35,000 positions, and revising service standards for First-Class Mail.

“We are forced to face a new reality today,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “First-Class Mail supports the organization and drives network requirements. With the dramatic decline in mail volume and the resulting excess capacity, maintaining a vast national infrastructure is no longer realistic. Since 2006, we have closed 186 facilities, removed more than 1,500 pieces of mail processing equipment, decreased employee complement by more than 110,000 through attrition and reduced costs by $12 billion.”

Mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past 5 years and is continuing to decline. First-Class Mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece First-Class Mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe, and nearly 50 percent in the past ten years. The decline has created substantial excess capacity within the postal processing network.

The mail processing network itself was constructed to process and deliver First-Class Mail within a 1–3 day window depending on where the mail is sent and delivered. With the proposed change, the new service standard would become 2–3 days, meaning that on average, customers would no longer receive mail the day after it was mailed. If implemented, the change in service standards would allow for significant infrastructure changes to be made across the nation.

“Our employees continue to do a terrific job for our customers and are among the most dedicated workforce anywhere. These are difficult times and our announcement today does not reflect on their commitment to service,” added Donahoe.

An Advance Notice of Rulemaking pertaining to the proposed overnight service standard changes was submitted to the Federal Register earlier today. A copy of the submission can be found at the URL below. The Postal Service intends to file with the Postal Regulatory Commission this fall.

Stephen Colbert offers suggestions to help USPS

We’ve covered the “helpful” suggestions of Darrell Issa and Red State, so why not consult yet another respected conservative?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Return to Sender
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Video: Customer told to leave PO because she has too much mail

USPS Threatening to kick me out for having to many packages ALL CAUGHT ON CAMERA – YouTube.

Proposed USPS Plant Consolidation List Revealed

21CPW.com has posted a copy of the list of processing facilities set to be considered for closing by the USPS. The list was apparently faxed (is the USPS the only company that still faxes things?) to the unions yesterday at 5PM.

Note that there are multiple consolidation options listed in some cases. For example, each of the three plants closest to Boston is listed as a candidate for consolidation into one of the other two. Presumably at least one of them will remain open.

USPS Plant Consolidation List