Rahall Says USPS Must “Go Back to the Drawing Board” on Post Office Closures

BECKLEY, W.Va. – Citing a recent study that found overly optimistic savings projections and an insufficient attention to community needs, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Tuesday called on the Postal Service to go back to the drawing board on its efforts to close and consolidate postal facilities in southern West Virginia.

“The Postal Regulatory Commission was blunt in its assessment of the Postal Service’s closure process – citing unreasonable assumptions about cost savings and an insufficient focus on the needs of communities where post offices are proposed to be closed,” said Rahall, who has been active and vocal in opposing the Postal Service’s efforts to close postal facilities in southern West Virginia. “In light of the Commission’s findings, the Postal Service should go back to the drawing board in its discontinuance studies. It needs to formulate a plan that increases network efficiencies while fulfilling its statutory service obligations.”

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the independent government entity created by the Congress to oversee the Postal Service, recently issued its Advisory Opinion on the Postal Service’s Retail Access Optimization Initiative – the current effort to close nearly 3,700 post offices nationwide, including 85 post offices in southern West Virginia. The Commission found that the Postal Service was unable to provide the data necessary to confirm its cost savings projections associated with the post offices proposed for closure. The Commission also expressed concerns about ensuring that alternatives are available to meet the needs of affected communities prior to a postal facility closure decision. The Commission concluded that “notwithstanding its name, the Retail Access Optimization Initiative is not designed to optimize the retail network.”

In a concurring opinion, PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway strongly rebuked the Postal Service’s closure process, noting: “The Commission has recently heard appeals on more than 60 individual post office closings. The records in these cases reveal a pattern of inaccurate and overly optimistic economic savings calculations and of careless disregard of community concerns. While the facts of those cases were not considered by the Commission in its Advisory Opinion, they nevertheless demonstrate an ongoing institutional bias within the Postal Service that presumes closing small post offices automatically provides cost savings and network efficiencies.”

In October, Rahall urged the Postal Service to place a moratorium on any post office closures until a practical and realistic plan for managing and responding to legitimate citizen concerns had been formulated. He welcomed the Postal Service’s decision to postpone any closings or consolidations until May 15, 2012, and urged citizens to press the Postal Service to rethink current closure plans.

“Rural areas, like southern West Virginia, have the least access to the Internet, email, and cell phone service; we need our post offices. Postal services play a tremendous role in the ability of citizens in these areas to stay connected. Until a plan is developed that does not compromise the current services available to my constituents, I implore you to stop further proceedings to close or consolidate postal facilities in southern West Virginia,” Rahall wrote in a letter to the Postmaster General in response to the Advisory Opinion.

4 thoughts on “Rahall Says USPS Must “Go Back to the Drawing Board” on Post Office Closures

  1. CONGRESS PASSED an omnibus spending check Dec 17 that postpones legislation that could outcome in a layoffs of tens of thousands of workers during a United States Postal Service–and in a closure of thousands of post offices and mail estimate comforts around a country.

    The magnitude puts off a $5.5 billion remuneration for destiny retirement health advantages until subsequent Aug and guarantees a smoothness of mail 6 days a week. This is a third time Congress has released a duration on closures given identical threats were done in 1976.

    However, United States Postal Service (USPS) officials announced they sojourn committed to implementing pursuit and use cuts, and will ensue with closures that were scheduled before Dec 12, 2011. USPS claims such purgation is compulsory for a survival, as it says it will run out of handling income subsequent summer.

    This past August, Postmaster General and USPS CEO Patrick Donahoe announced that a USPS was adjacent on penury due to a recession, an Internet-driven decrease in first-class mail, and, above all, a pre-funding of 75 years’ value of destiny retirement health advantages mandated by a Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006.

    The cuts and threats come amid apart agreement negotiations between USPS and 4 postal unions.

    The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) validated a four-year agreement in May that done concessions to safety a no-layoff proviso for stream career employees. The National Association of Rural Letter Carriers awaits contracting settlement after entrance to a negotiate corner in November. The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) concluded to extend agreement negotiations until Jan 20, 2012.

    Yet notwithstanding a high stakes and a fusillade of attacks by USPS, these talks are being conducted behind sealed doors, though monitoring by rank-and-file kinship members. The NALC leadership, for example, announced usually that “[w]e are speedy that swell is still being made”–while a inhabitant bureau of NPMHU voiced appreciation for a “patience and support of a membership.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AT THE heart of a post office’s evident woes are a supplies of a 2006 PAEA legislation. Passed by unanimous agree (no building opinion was recorded) during a lame-duck Congress, a check was deserted by a APWU, though permitted by a NPMHU and a NALC.

    The PAEA requires that a USPS pre-fund 75 years’ value of destiny postal retirement health benefits, with annual payments of between $5 and $9 billion into a U.S. Treasury between 2007 and 2016.

    These payments are to be done in serve to health caring costs for stream retirees. Such pre-funding is obliged for $19 billion of a USPS’s $20 billion detriment over a final 4 years. The prepayments have tired a USPS’s credit and erased billions of dollars in distinction generated between 2003 and 2008, when a Great Recession gathering down mail volume by 9 percent from a ancestral high in 2006.

    As a result, a Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund now has some-more than $42 billion–enough to cover destiny retirement health premiums for a subsequent 20 years.

    As if this were not enough, vast audits by sovereign agencies and corporate firms find that a USPS “overpaid” by between $50 billion and $80 billion into a Civil Service Retirement System given a first in 1971. USPS has also “overpaid” some-more than $10 billion into a Federal Employees Retirement System.

    Such overcharges have been attributed to actuarial miscalculations of a rate of health caring cost inflation. But given a income gets deposited in a U.S. Treasury, many think Congress of carrying used a USPS for decades as a income cow to censor deficits and shun lifting taxes.

    There is also a decades-long use of carrying a USPS cover a entirety of veterans’ pensions, notwithstanding a fact that many workers’ use is divided between USPS and a military. Nearly one-quarter of postal workers are veterans, and a Department of Defense paid a proportional grant share for each sovereign organisation solely a USPS.

    Such contribution are common believe among politicians and USPS executives. Nevertheless, lawmakers like Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Cal.,), chair of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, are regulating this made predicament as an event to mangle a postal workers’ unions and sell off a oldest, many reputable sovereign use in a country.

    After final summer’s congressional hearings on a USPS crisis, Issa and postal subcommittee chair Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) decried any redistribution of USPS supports as a “bailout.” They green-lighted a check appointing a handful of bureaucrats as a “solvency authority” to “reject, cgange or terminate” USPS collective-bargaining agreements and seize control of any aspect of postal operations indispensable to exercise billions of dollars in cuts.

    According to a Watchdog Institute, 11 Republican members on Issa’s cabinet perceived financing from Tea Party bankroller and anti-union Koch Industries in a final election. The Koch brothers–who corroborated Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his bid to tummy public-sector kinship negotiate in that state–also account a Cato Institute, that has been advocating for decades to “free a mail” by privatizing a USPS.

    Following Issa’s lead, Postmaster General Donahoe shortly announced a need to condense another 100,000 jobs, cut mail use to 5 days a week, discharge door-to-door delivery, serve revoke hours, tighten facilities, seize control of workman grant and health plans, and boost a part-time stretchable workforce. He also demanded energy from Congress to lay off career employees, usually weeks after signing a agreement with a APWU that guaranteed such workers would be free from layoffs.

    This “death by a thousand cuts” can usually outcome in a drop of a USPS, a finish of a concept use obligation, and a contingent privatization of mail services.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    ON THE behind of each postal employee’s paycheck are a difference “From a customers.” For many postal workers, these difference pierce to mind a people in a neighborhoods they live and work in.

    But for some in Congress, USPS management, a Postal Regulatory Commission and a postal Board of Governors, “customer” means a vital mailers. Organizations like a Affordable Mail Alliance advise a USPS to condense jobs and cut workman remuneration so that they can fill U.S. mailboxes with junk mail during a lowest probable rate.

    There’s also promotion mailer, Valpak, that submitted a new brief recommending slicing a day of delivery, while dismissing postal services in farming America as “inefficient” and “unnecessary.” Individual post offices are so judged by how most income they collected.

    Aside from a callousness and audacity of this claim, it ignores a mercantile fact that those offices broach mail as well, and that support for six-day concept use is partial of a reason since income is collected elsewhere in a system.

    The domestic interests of promotion companies like these, not to discuss USPS competitors like FedEx and UPS, are represented in Congress by some-more than 100 lobbyists with millions of dollars during their disposal. By comparison, a minute carriers’ kinship has one full time lobbyist and contributes about $300,000 to politics.

    Under vigour from these private interests, a post bureau is already advancing a bulletin of slicing behind service.

    For example, USPS is resorting to tricks to equivocate a burden requirements–like “relocating” post offices to smaller locations in Venice and Palo Alto, Calif. Since these are usually a “move” and not a “closure,” a USPS avoids carrying to navigate a full stopping routine that follows a post bureau shutdown. These “relocations” also risk a detriment of vast Works Progress Administration murals combined by federally employed artists in a 1930s.

    Beyond a cost to service, a rush to tighten allows officials to cut honeyed genuine estate deals for themselves or their friends. In 2011, a USPS Office of a Inspector General detected USPS supervision is leasing 982 properties from stream and former employees. This came on a tail of a supervision kickback intrigue involving a USPS car fleet.

    The closures are also a approach for USPS to do an finish run around a recently validated APWU contract. The postmaster general’s “Village Post Office” examination of relocating postal products into supermarkets and preference stores will reinstate federally employed, unionized sell bureau with nonunion, minimum-wage workers and kiosks. The APWU agreement isn’t directly violated; a USPS simply moves kinship members’ work elsewhere.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    OVER THE past year, a slew of postal remodel bills have been submitted and stalled. Proposals ranged from Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s absurd idea to revitalise a art of minute essay to President Obama’s capitulation for slicing a day of mail delivery.

    However, romantic campaigns to save internal Post Offices widespread conflicting a summer, and, on occasion, related adult with other unions or Occupy demonstrations.

    Although coordination between a 4 unions conflicting a closures has been lacking, they have run a successful media campaign, corroborated adult by rallying together to “Save America’s Postal Service” during all Congressional offices in all 435 districts on Jun 27.

    The unions have also orderly a debate to collect 1 million signatures and benefaction them to a Congressional “super committee” in hopes of carrying profitable reforms enclosed in a tentative prerequisite rebate plan. It’s critical to note, however, that this tactic would have put unions in a critical quandary if a anti-democratic cabinet had enclosed indispensable postal measures in a check that also pounded a Medicare and Social Security.

    The problem is that kinship leaderships have been endorsing grassroots activism essentially as a means of lobbying Congress, and not as a means of training a belligerent orderly arrange and record to urge their jobs.

    This shy dance is exemplified by a NALC caring enlivening a members to join Occupy Wall Street’s demonstrations conflicting investment bankers, while determining to compensate an undisclosed volume of a members’ impost income to a investment bank Lazard Frères and investment banker-turned-union purgation salesman Ron Bloom.

    Lazard is famous for being a “king” of failure and restructuring deals. Bloom is an Obama insider who orchestrated a GM bailout. He has negotiated salary and advantage concessions with a United Steel Workers and a United Auto Workers. His specialty is bartering wage, advantage and pursuit cuts on interest of unions to assistance revive a profitability of failing industries–for a fee, of course.

    This pierce by unions has been countered by a USPS’s possess greedy employing of bottom-feeder Roger Altman, a supervision strike male in a 1980 Chrysler sovereign bailout that beaten a prior era of autoworkers. Altman represented GM’s interests conflicting Bloom in a 2009 automobile bailout deal. As co-founder of a Wall Street investment organisation Evercore, Altman creates millions when he is not flapping in and out of a Treasury Department.

    One high indicate of insurgency to a cuts came Dec 19, when hundreds of residents conflicting 17 zip codes in Oregon protested a USPS’s devise to tighten 41 farming post offices in a state. The Rural Organizing Project reported that Occupy transformation activists carried Christmas cards, cookies and gifts of appreciation to their postal workers, as they sought to lift recognition about a imminent closures and collect petition signatures.

    “Deadwood won’t exist in 10 years though a post office,” pronounced Leslie Benscoter, late schoolteacher in Deadwood, Ore. “That’s since I’m an Occupier. we Occupy 97430.”

    The Corvallis Gazette-Times quoted Amanda Aguilar Shank of a Rural Organizing Project on since a organisation instituted a protests. “We see a Occupy transformation as being about putting people before corporate profits, and a Postal Service is a prerequisite for many farming Oregonians,” she said. “We’re occupying post offices since farming America is also partial of a 99 percent.”

    Meanwhile, annoy was tangible conflicting a nation during a compulsory open hearings on post bureau closings.

    At hearings hold recently in a South Bronx and Harlem neighborhoods of New York City, for example, comments emphasized a hardships faced by civic residents, quite a bad and elderly, when post offices nearby them are scheduled to close. Eleven-year-old Jyasi Watson told Manhattan Postmaster Bobby Brown that that USPS is “taking advantage of a African American and Latino community.”

    Brown denied this by equating a shutting of pleasantness window use in a Midtown’s solid district with forcing internal seniors to trek an additional half mile adult a mountain in a high-crime area to get to a subsequent nearest post office.

    Responding to these and other examples of activism, Sen. Bernie Sanders, an eccentric from Vermont, has due a Postal Service Protection Act.

    This magnitude would discharge a requirement to pre-fund destiny retirement health benefits; lapse to a Postal Service sovereign grant overpayments to a Civil Service Retirement and Federal Employees Retirement System; charge six-day delivery; concede a USPS to yield non-postal services; forestall a closure of farming post offices; strengthen first-class mail time standard; and forestall a closure of estimate facilities. It is a best remodel offer now in play and deserves eager support.

  2. The PMG knows what he is doing. He has to be the only CEO in the US that his only purpose is to dismantle and destroy the company. Is he is getting a commission from UPS and Fed EX?

  3. Clarksburg, WV, which is in the north, is just as important to serving the rural areas of WV and should be kept open as a vital piece of the network and processes just as much mail as Charleston but more efficiently!!! If you are going to fight for unnecessary and unverified savings, fight for ALL of them in your state.

  4. Just goes to show the PMG is not thinking. Just another knee jerk reaction.
    Instead of thinking it over and coming up with a plan to make profit ,it’s cut everything in site.We need a new leader now. Not when it’s to late.

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