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Postal Service looking to streamline post office closing process

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Brace for a brouhaha: The U.S. Postal Service is seeking more freedom to close post offices with a package of sure-to-be-controversial proposals coming out in Thursday’s Federal Register.

The half-dozen proposed rules changes will help the struggling mail carrier “responsibly address issues pertaining to declining mail volume, customer demand and revenue shortfalls,” USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “We look forward to the 30-day comment period,” she added.

The proposals are already available online and postal officials have scheduled a Thursday media briefing to further explain the new approach. One can presume, however, that their overarching goal is to make it easier to prune a vast retail network that isn’t shrinking nearly as fast as as mail volume.

At present, for example, the Postal Service is barred from closing post offices solely to save money. Although the new proposal doesn’t appear to explicitly end that prohibition, it would allow postal officials to look at shuttering facilities suffering from “insufficient customer demand” or where communities have other ways of reasonably getting postal services.

Even before the proposed changes are officially public, however, resistance is already afoot. Mark Strong, president of the National League of Postmasters, said Tuesday that his organization will be strongly opposed. Also upset is the Association of United States Postal Lessors, which represents landlords who rent space to the Postal Service.

If “this change is adopted, we can anticipate that nearly all of rural post offices will disappear in no time and a significant number of postal stations located in lower- income areas of cities and towns will also disappear rapidly,” Mario Principe, the association’s director of lessor affairs, said in a statement.

Particularly interesting to parse will be the reaction from Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are perhaps the biggest single roadblock to closing post offices, which are often cherished–albeit money-losing–community institutions. But prominent House Republicans are now insisting that the Postal Service get its finances in order, in part by clamping down on employee pay and benefits.  Will lawmakers be similarly hard-nosed when it comes to politically valuable postal real estate?

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Comments

  1. John Klopp Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 6:12 am

    Go ahead Congress and destroy the rest of the middle class,it’s what the Republican majority does best!Try walking in a letter carrier’s shoes for a day and see if you still think there not worth there middle class pay!

  2. Barbara Pratt Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Wake up democrats- you are being punished by the republicans for electing a democratic president. The republicans are attempting to cripple the very unions who were responsible for electing him in order to keep another democrat from winning the next presidential term. WAKE UP!!!!!!!!

  3. marielaina Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    The PO is doing all the wrong things to cut costs. They have totally screwed career employees, from the injured workers who lost jobs, {100,000} to the new contract for clerks. Closing offices will not encourage customers to use the postal service. Adding new services will help. One of the offices that is closing just had a 35 million dollar renovation for new flat sorting machines that don’t even work. The PO is actually, purposely not repairing 100′s of buildings so they can skirt the law prohibiting closing non-profitable offices. The top dogs have been pampering themselves with luxuries for years. That’s where the money goes. Does the PMG deserve to earn more than the Vice President?

  4. chrisk Says:
    March 31st, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Closing offices in rural areas or cities where it is difficult for people to get to ones further away makes no sense. It would hurt our customers and put a burden on them. In towns where there are more than one office and they are, as in my town, less then 5 miles from each other, it would make sense to close the branch since there are days where we don’t take in enough walk in revenue to pay the rent, utilities, and the clerk who is there. I think if they get approval to do so then the impact to the customers needs to be looked at. Even if an office were open for only 4 to 5 hrs so people could get PO Box mail and utilize the services it would help. If, however, it is no hardship for the customers to go an extra couple of miles then closure may be unavoidable.

  5. OIC Says:
    March 31st, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    As a PTF (part time flex) employee of USPS, I have been working about 40 hours a week for the past few years. The office I am detailed to right now is slated to have the hours cut to 4 hours a day. How does cutting my paycheck in half help the economy? I will need to look for a second job to pay my bills…fat chance of me finding that! No one is looking at the “BIG” picture. If I don’t have money to spend at the local stores, eateries, dry-cleaners, etc., then those businesses might not have enough to pay as much for their mailings, employees, etc. and the ball keeps rolling along collecting less money…bumping more people into poverty.

  6. Diane Says:
    May 18th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    It makes no sense you over hire and on top of that have thousands of casuals and ptf work 40 and more hours knowing the mail volume has dropped. Than in othher offices you have employees working 10 and more hours.

  7. Diane Says:
    May 18th, 2011 at 10:41 am

    It makes no sense you over hire and on top of that have thousands of casuals and ptf work 40 and more hours knowing the mail volume has dropped. Than in other offices you have employees working 10 and more hours.