USPS closings plan to eliminate up to 35,000 jobs

Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:03pm EST

A post office which closed its counter services four years ago is seen in Los Angeles, January 30, 2012.      REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A post office which closed its counter services four years ago is seen in Los Angeles, January 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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(Reuters) - The U.S. Postal Service announced plans on Thursday to close or consolidate 223 mail processing centers and eliminate up to 35,000 jobs as part of its strategy to cut costs by reducing its network of facilities.

The Postal Service has been losing billions of dollars each year as email chips away at mail volumes and as it faces massive annual payments to the federal government.

Postal officials said in September they would study more than 250 of the 461 processing sites for possible consolidation with other facilities as part of a series of cost-cutting steps. They also announced plans to end next-day delivery to cut back on overnight work.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said the agency needs to reduce $20 billion in annual costs by 2015. Moving processing away from the 223 centers would reduce operating costs by $2.6 billion annually, according to the Postal Service's website.

That includes eliminating as many as 30,000 full-time jobs and 5,000 non-career positions, USPS spokesman Sue Brennan said. The agency has gotten rid of about 140,000 jobs in the last five years, mainly through attrition, but still had about 650,000 workers at the end of 2011, according to its first-quarter financial statement.

None of the facilities would close before mid-May due to a temporary moratorium announced in December that is intended to give Congress time to pass legislation to help overhaul the mail agency.

The Postal Service, which does not receive taxpayer funds, wants Congress to eliminate an annual payment to prefund retiree health benefits and let it end Saturday mail delivery.

The agency also wants to take over its health benefits from the federal government and to close thousands of post offices.

Lawmakers have been deeply divided on whether to allow facility closures, end the prefunding payment and other measures. Some lawmakers have praised the Postal Service for "rightsizing" its network, while others say the planned closings will hurt the agency's business model.

"At a time when the Postal Service is competing against the instantaneous delivery of information from email and the Internet, slowing down mail delivery service will result in less business and less revenue," said Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a statement on Thursday.

Donahoe told lawmakers last week, in a letter announcing the agency's five-year turnaround plan, that failing to take all of its planned cost-cutting actions could lead to annual losses of $18.2 billion by 2015.

(Reporting By Emily Stephenson; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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Comments (8)
gordo53 wrote:
Make the USPS profitable. If that means delivering mail every other day or maybe even 2 days a week that’s fine. We’ll survive. Stop sucking up tax payer dollars for a service that fewer and fewer people value every day.

Feb 23, 2012 9:26pm EST  --  Report as abuse
CF137 wrote:
Another 35,000 jobless under Obama.

Feb 23, 2012 9:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
rts18202 wrote:
All they really need to do is get a businessman/businesswoman in to run the place. Why are they paying retiree health benefits? Let their people use Medicare like the rest of us do. If someone retires early, they are on their own for healthcare like the rest of us. Also, 20 years and out or 30 years and out is a relic of the past and needs to change. Providing Postal service is mandated in the constitution, so let’s get rid of the profit making idea. High postal rates are driving away business.

Feb 23, 2012 11:06pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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