PMG: We Never Used the Word ‘Closure’
In an interview televised on C-SPAN on April 27, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe down-played the threat of post office and mail processing plant closures and suggested no major changes would take place anytime soon.
“‘Closure’ is a word we’ve never used,” he said.
How about a March 7 USPS press release [PDF] that said, “Most closures or consolidations would have to take place starting after May 15, 2012, and be completed by August 31, 2012.”
And there was the Nov. 16, 2011, submission to the Postal Regulatory Commission [PDF] that said the USPS would “Redesign the operating network, infrastructure, and processes by reviewing retail office productivity and studying under-utilized offices for potential consolidation, closure or conversion…”
Before that there was the Sept. 15, 2011, press release that said, “Proposals under consideration include studying nearly 250 processing facilities for possible consolidation or closure…”
And an Aug. 5, 2011, USPS press release said, “The Postal Service announced plans on July 25 to identify and study nearly 3,700 under-utilized Post Offices for possible closure…”
APWU Executive Vice President Greg Bell said, “Whether the Postmaster General calls it ‘closure,’ ‘consolidation,’ ‘right-sizing,’ or ‘rationalizing the network,’ it means the same thing: Drastic cuts to service, jobs, and the postal network, the closure of post offices and mail processing facilities, and irreparable harm to the USPS.”
Lawmakers Weigh In
Unfortunately, the Postmaster General’s reassurances about how many consolidations will be implemented — and when — aren’t very comforting either. As the March 7 press release notes, the USPS plans to implement as many closures as possible by Aug. 31, before the start of the fall mailing season. This confirms what postal executives told the APWU on Feb. 13: They plan to begin consolidating mail processing facilities as soon as the moratorium on consolidations ends.
Many lawmakers don’t seem to be taking the PMG at his word. The four co-sponsors of a Senate postal reform bill have asked Donahoe to extend the moratorium until after legislation is enacted. In a letter dated April 30, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), wrote, “There is considerable concern in the Senate that this approach will unnecessarily degrade the infrastructure which is one of the Postal Service’s most important assets.
“We believe an attempt to proceed with the planned closures — to ‘get in under the wire’ while legislation to the contrary is being considered — would be counterproductive and would violate the clear intent of the Senate.”
A few days later, 43 senators, including 37 Democrats, five Republicans, and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) also asked Donahoe to extend the moratorium on the closing of post offices and mail processing facilities. In a letter dated May 2 [PDF], they wrote, “We are deeply concerned that the closing of these postal facilities prior to postal reform legislation being enacted would be devastating to communities around the country.”
On the other hand, three Republicans — Sen. John McCain (AZ), Sen. Tom Coburn (OK), and Sen. Bob Corker (TN) — are urging Donahoe to quickly implement planned cutbacks. “Despite the Senate’s passage last week of S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012, we believe it is very unlikely that both the House and Senate will come to agreement on legislation that reforms the postal system anytime soon and strongly encourage you to move forward with the cost-saving changes you have previously outlined,” they wrote.
In other words, “Implement the closures.” The ones the PMG never mentioned?