USPS to Keep Rural Post Offices Open

The agency announced a new, two-year strategy as well as a voluntary early retirement incentive for more than 21,000 non-executive postmasters.

Bills before Congress to delay major reforms planned by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) may have been blunted by a new strategy USPS announced May 9 that "could keep the smallest Post Offices open for business while providing a framework to achieve significant cost savings," the agency said.

The agency simultaneously announced a voluntary early retirement incentive for more than 21,000 non-executive postmasters.

A list of affected post offices and more details are available at http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/welcome.htm.

Its announcement said the plan "would keep the existing Post Office in place, but with modified retail window hours to match customer use." Access to post offices' retail lobbies and to PO boxes won't change, nor will ZIP codes.

USPS is one of the largest employers in the nation, with 574,000 career employees and thousands of retired employees, but it has shrunk significantly in recent years and planned to close as many as 223 mail processing facilities after May 15. Some members of Congress introduced alternative plans in the form of legislation that has not yet passed both houses.

"Meeting the needs of postal customers is, and will always be, a top priority. We continue to balance that by better aligning service options with customer demand and reducing the cost to serve," Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe said May 9. "With that said, we've listened to our customers in rural America and we've heard them loud and clear -– they want to keep their Post Office open. We believe today's announcement will serve our customers' needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the Postal Service return to long-term financial stability."

USPS said this new two-year strategy will be phased in, won't be finished until September 2014, and will save $500 million annually.

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