USPS Cuts Back on Post Office Closings

The U.S. Postal Service’s Station and Branch Optimization Initiative has again reduced its initial list of 677 stations and branches identified for possible closure or consolidation. After trimming the list to 413, that fluid figure now rests at 371, according to USPS spokesperson Yvonne Yoerger.

The stations were selected from 3,243 on a list provided to the American Postal Workers Union in mid-May. Management had expected to complete the review by Oct. 2, so that closures could be implemented at the start of the new fiscal year.

But a final date for completion of the review is not clear at this point, Yoerger says. “There isn’t a final date per se on the station and branch reviews, because it’s driven at the local level and up to local management to complete the reviews,” she says.

Each review takes about 15 days, then the district management forward recommendations to headquarters, Yoerger says. If approved at headquarters, any consolidation takes place no sooner than 60 days, to provide for full notice to customers and employees. So it’s unlikely that any consolidations will take place before January, “particularly with holiday mailing season beginning soon.”

The USPS has nearly 37,000 Post Offices, stations, branches, contract and community post offices. The next PRC filing with an updated list is set for early November, Yoerger says.

Hamilton Davison, executive director for the American Catalog Mailers Association, says his group supports the closure of postal stations and branches. “There are more post offices than there are Starbucks, Wal-Marts, and McDonald’s combined in the U.S.,” he says. “Clearly, we have too many locations. We need to close some of the suburban ones and remove the costs.”

How much could USPS save with the closures? Postmaster General John E. Potter said recently this figure could range anywhere from $20 million to $100 million. The USPS reduced expenses by $6 billion in fiscal 2009, but still stands to lose more than $7 billion, as it’s still required by law to prefund retiree health benefits out of its operating budget, and annual payments hover around $5.4 billion.

For the current list of postal stations and branches under review for possible closure, go to: http://prc.gov/prc-docs/home/whatsnew/Copy%20of%20SBOCdiscontinuanceStudyStatusReport10-09-09(Public)_244.pdf

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