Editorial: Not all post offices should pay their way

In an editorial by the Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor they wrote:

The postal service has since the 1980s operated as an “independent establishment of the executive branch” and, as such, is expected to be self-supporting. For the most part, it is. But in exchange for its monopoly on first and third-class mail, it is charged with providing universal service, which means delivering mail at a loss in many parts of the nation.

Some 26,000 of the service’s post offices operate at a loss. The service has embarked on a long and cumbersome review of 2,000 of those offices to decide how many to close. By law, it is not allowed to close offices solely because they are losing money. Doing so in some cases makes sense. In other cases – for example, when the nearest alternative post office would be many miles away – a money-losing office shouldn’t be closed.

Some conservatives want to end the postal service’s monopoly and let private companies deliver rural mail. Rural residents, of course, would be charged rates commensurate with the cost of delivery. A move in that direction, however, would be a tragic break with history and a breach of the social contract, one that would be economically and sociologically devastating to much of rural America.  Read full article

Not so fast!  At a meeting last year the Postal Service briefed APWU National officers  about plans to consolidate operations in large stations and branches. USPS conceded that:

…among the reasons for closing stations and branches is that there are fewer “procedural requirements” for closing stations and branches than for small post offices. They also said that 34 percent (now 35%) of current postal revenue comes through alternative access, and that they are striving to increase that percentage.

 The reasons given by USPS on what Triggers a station/branch to close or consolidate:

Operational Efficiencies
Declining Office Workload
 – Retail Transactions
 – Mail Volume
Proximity of Other Facilities
Loss of Lease; No Suitable Alternate Quarters
Economic Savings Offered through Alternative Service

So is it closing money-losing stations/branches, a way to increase alternative access to postal services or both?

APWU expressed its  concern that USPS may be attempting to circumvent the contract:

We also believe that if management backfills the stations and branches it closes with contract postal offices (CPUs), this would violate the procedural requirements on subcontracting in Article 32.1 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The other point to ponder: In many of the locations where stations/branches are closing or consolidating  sits FedEx Kinkos and UPS stores. So  USPS  customers may choose to utilize alternative companies in lieu of  traveling the extra distance for USPS alternative access to mail services.  Only time will tell.

 Below is a timeline USPS  developed for closing Post Offices (9 months or longer) vs. “Classified” Station/Branches (4 months)

Task Name     [Post Offices]
Authorization to Study
10 days
Review & Investigation Study (data gathering)
25 days
Community Input
25 days
Proposal* Posting & District Manager Review and Approval
100 days
Headquarters Review & Final Determination
30 days
Final Determination Posting and Customer Appeal Period*
30 days
If appealed, 120 days are added to timeline for PRC Review
Office Closeout (60 days after posting of final determination)*60 days
Classified Stations/Branches
Task Name
Authorization to Study
5 days
Review & Investigation Study (data gathering)
15 days
Community Input
20 days
Proposal (No Posting)
10 days
Headquarters Review & Final Determination
10 days
Union Notification and Office Closeout (60 days after HQ Decision)
60 days

2 thoughts on “Editorial: Not all post offices should pay their way

  1. I have stated this before and I will say it again….Upper Level USPS Management is intent on MAKING PERMANENT STRUCTURAL CHANGES to the USPS, including permanently closing thousands of Post Offices to “SAVE MONEY”.

    Let’s address the “MONEY” part of THEIR ARGUMENT…Has anyone noticed the ACTUAL NUMBERS ANNOUNCED by the USPS regarding their MONTH OVER MONTH “operating deficit”?? If you FACTOR OUT the amount of “PREFUNDING” DOLLARS that OPM and the Congress have required the USPS to pay, the USPS would NOT BE OPERATING AT A LOSS.
    If this is the case, why would you be CLOSING POST OFFICES and consequently changing how and where the PUBLIC utilizes and gets mail services?

    Though we will not know the extent of THE USPS MANAGEMENT REALIGNMENT until the end of March, it is clear THAT THESE CHANGES HAVE LONG BEEN OVERDUE. The USPS has been, quite literally, WASTING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF REVENUE with duplicitous layers of MANAGEMENT, every year for for decades. It is SO BAD THAT THEIR OWN OIG HAS OBJECTED TO IT.
    It’s about time.


  2. All other areas should be cut before rural post offices are closed. Universal delivery is the USPS’s mandate. Cut all the big city fat out and leave the rural’s open without affecting universal delivery.

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