Postal Service to Consolidate 223 Mail Processing Facilities

Located all across the country, they are among 264 the agency has been studying with an eye toward closing them.

Lexington, Ky. Kalamazoo, Mich. Truth or Consequences, N.M. Salem, Ore. Brooklyn, N.Y. Dallas, Texas. Atlanta, Ga. The list of 223 mail processing facilities that the U.S. Postal Service intends to consolidate wholly or in part fills six pages and was released Feb. 23. USPS has told members of Congress it will not close any of them before May 15. Employees, unions, management associations, and members of Congress have been informed about the closings, according to the Postal Service, which said it estimates 30,000 full-time and 5,000 non-career jobs will be eliminated.

The Area Mail Processing consolidation studies began when USPS, one of the largest U.S. civilian employers, announced Sept. 15, 2011, that it was studying 252 processing facilities with an eye toward closing them. The true number was 264, because studies of eight facilities were already under way and four more were added later. Six of the 264 are on hold for further study, 35 "will remain open for now," and the remaining 223 are to undergo consolidation.

USPS says this shrinkage will help to ensure the future of the U.S. mail system. It plans to reduce its operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 and return to profitability. Since 2006, first-class mail volume has plunged, "leaving a mail mix that generates far less revenue than it costs to sustain postal operations," according to the agency's announcement. "The dramatic decline in mail volume has resulted in an enormous amount of excess capacity within the network, creating significant opportunity for consolidation."

"The plan we have developed requires a combination of aggressive cost reduction, rethinking the way we manage our health care costs, and comprehensive legislation to reform the business model of the Postal Service," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said recently. "If provided the flexibility to quickly implement this plan, we can return to profitability and better serve the American public. If not, we risk becoming a significant burden to the American taxpayer."

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