PRC to Expedite Decision on APWU Complaint

The Postal Regulatory Commission will issue an expedited decision on a complaint filed by the APWU that seeks to stop the USPS from implementing its network consolidation plan on July 1, the panel has announced. The union filed a complaint on June 12 asserting that the USPS cannot implement the changes without first obtaining an advisory opinion from the commission

The PRC announced [PDF] June 15 that it will issue a final order on the APWU motion in advance of the July 1 implementation date announced by the Postal Service, and ordered the USPS to reply to the union’s motion by June 20.

Federal law requires the Postal Service to request an advisory opinion from the commission when it seeks to make nationwide changes in service, but the agency announced it would proceed with its latest plan on July 1. The USPS announced a modified, two-stage version of its network consolidation plan on May 17, and filed a formal notice of the revised plan on May 25. The PRC is not expected to issue an opinion until close to Labor Day.

Phase 1 of the modified plans calls for the consolidation 48 Processing and Distribution Centers by the end of August and for another 92 plants to be consolidated or closed in 2013. Phase 2 calls for an additional 89 plants to be consolidated by the end of 2014, for a total of 229 — half of the nation’s mail processing centers. The PRC was considering an earlier version of the plan when the USPS announced a revised timetable, along with changes to plans for service standards reductions and revised projections for savings.

Under the modified plan, overnight delivery of first-class mail will be limited to “intra-SCF” [sectional center facility] mail beginning July 1. Periodical mail will also be slowed. Beginning in 2014, overnight delivery of first-class mail would be available only to large presort mailers and periodical mail will be further slowed.

The complaint also contends that the service cuts scheduled for July 1 are unnecessary, unsupported by the evidence, and in violation of federal law that establishes criteria for service.

At a June 7 hearing on the modified plan, the APWU asserted that the Postal Service justify the plan by relying on testimony and evidence presented to the commission about the earlier version of the plan.

“Given the complete lack of analysis and evidence, there appears to be no justification for management’s claims of an estimated $1.2 billion in savings from Phase 1 of the plan,” APWU counsel told the panel.

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