There was a time when having a government job – especially a position at the Post Office – meant you could rely on a lifetime of job security.
Those days are no more.
The U.S. Postal Service, which lost $5.1 billion in 2011, is planning massive job-cuts in 2012 and intends to close or consolidate more than 220 mail processing plants nationwide in an effort to restore the agency to profitability.
The moves will result in 35,000 people losing their jobs. Specifically, the USPS says about 30,000 career positions will be eliminated, along with 5,000 non-career jobs.
The employees to be downsized include clerks, mail handlers, mechanics, motor vehicle operators, custodians, maintenance employees, supervisors, managers and other administrative personnel. Before any workforce reductions take place, however, the Postal Service says it will meet its legal and contractual obligations to its labor unions, as well as its consultation obligations to the management associations.
Here is a Postal Service list of plant closings and consolidations scheduled to occur.
The closings begin in May 2012 and will continue into 2013. In December 2011, the Postal Service agreed to impose a moratorium on closing Post Offices and processing facilities prior to May 15, 2012. Therefore, the earliest closing date would be May 19, 2012, the agency said.
In all, the U.S.P.S. had reviewed 264 processing facilities for possible consolidation. Of that total, 6 are still being studied, 35 will remain open for now, and 223 will be consolidated, all or in part.
The downsizing of Postal Service operations won’t just impact federal employees. Residents in the affected areas who may have used some of these facilities will be affected too.
But the Postal Service says the changes are badly needed to help the Post Office stop bleeding so much red ink. In announcing the plant closures, the U.S.P.S. said:
“These changes are a necessary part of a larger comprehensive plan developed by the Postal Service to reduce operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 and return the organization to profitability.”
The Postal Service says it’s “in the midst of a financial crisis due to the combined effects of the economic recession, increased use of electronic communications, and an obligation to prefund retiree health benefits.”
In a statement, the agency also noted: “First-Class Mail volume has deteriorated, leading to significant revenue declines, and the obligation to prefund these retiree health benefits on an accelerated basis remains unresolved. To date, legislative proposals to address the financial crisis remain pending, leaving the Postal Service and the mailing industry it supports in an increasingly precarious position.”
A review of the list of facilities to be shut down shows that some will closures will impact “originating operations.” That’s where workers cancel and sort locally generated mail at a facility close to where the mail originates.
Other consolidation will impact “destination operations.” That’s where Postal employees sort and prepare mail received from more distant areas for local delivery. Still other facilities to be consolidated will involve a combination of both originating and destination operations.
According to the agency, the overall goal is to use Postal Service equipment, facilities, staff work hours and transportation more efficiently.