The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to delay the closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices until May 15, 2012.
The financially strapped USPS, which is forecast to lose a record $14.1 billion next year, announced last week it was moving forward on cutbacks. It had planned to begin closing postal facilities in April.
Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway applauded the announcement.
“I was pleased to learn that the Postmaster General has acknowledged the many public concerns surrounding ongoing and proposed postal facilities closings by announcing a plan to refrain from closing any facilities through May 15, 2012,” Goldway says.
The PRC is considering about 150 post office closing appeals and request for two Advisory Opinions on the Postal Service’s plans to reduce its retail and processing networks.
“The commission is in the process of obtaining clarification from the Postal Service on the details of its announcement and, in particular, how this will impact pending post office appeals cases,” Goldway adds. “I believe the brief delay in facilities closings will provide additional time for the commission’s Advisory Opinions to be thoroughly reviewed and considered by the mailing community and members of Congress.”
Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said in a statement: “This is a positive step, provided the parties use the time to put together a positive plan for the future, including ways to grow the business as well as efficiencies that make sense.”
But U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, who crafted legislation to save the Postal Service, said in a statement that the USPS has “caved to political pressure” in agreeing to the delay, which “hastens the crisis that is bringing the USPS to the brink of collapse.”
Don Landis, vice president of postal affairs for catalog printer Arandell Corp., says many customers he spoke to are disappointed that the closings are being delayed until May.
“They feel it is inevitable so why delay and they have no faith that Congress will right the postal ship,” he says. Landis believes this delay could lead to higher costs being passed onto mailers.
“I don’t see any other way,” he says. “They don’t want to close processing facilities in their districts so they will pass something that will undoubtedly shift more burden on the rate payers to pay for excess facilities and employees.”