Mail changes ahead

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Indiana is losing three mail-processing sites as part of the U.S. Postal Service consolidation plan.

Facilities in Columbus, Bloomington and Terre Haute will close during the months-long implementation period.

The nationwide plan is expected to produce $1.2 billion in cost reductions.

The Postal Service is moving ahead with a modified plan to consolidate its network of 461 mail processing locations in phases.

The first phase of activities will result in up to 140 consolidations through February.

Unless the circumstances of the Postal Service change in the interim, a second and final phase of 89 consolidations is currently scheduled to begin in February 2014.

“We simply do not have the mail volumes to justify the size and capacity of our current mail processing network,” said Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer of the Postal Service. “To return to long-term profitability and financial stability while keeping mail affordable, we must match our network to the anticipated workload.”

The Postal Service will begin consolidating operations this summer – which mostly involves transferring mail-processing operations from smaller to larger facilities.

Due to the volume of high-priority mail predicted for the election and holiday mailing seasons, the Postal Service will not consolidate facilities from September through December.

About 5,000 employees will begin receiving notifications related to consolidating and other efficiency-enhancing activities scheduled for this summer.

The consolidating activities will reduce the size of the Postal Service workforce by approximately 13,000 employees and, when fully implemented, will generate cost reductions of approximately $1.2 billion annually.

Postal officials also announced they are working with unions for an employee retirement incentive, although no final decision has been made.

“The Postal Service has reduced the size of its workforce by 244,000 career employees since 2000 without resorting to layoffs,” said Megan Brennan, chief operating officer of the Postal Service.

The Postal Service also will soon issue a new regulation to modify its existing Service Standard for overnight delivery.

Officials said a final rule would be published in the Federal Register that will initially shrink the geographic reach of overnight service to local areas and enable consolidation activity in 2013.

The new rule would further tighten the overnight delivery standard in 2014 and enable further consolidation of the Postal Service mail-processing network absent any change to the circumstances of the Postal Service.

“We are essentially preserving overnight delivery for First-Class Mail through the end of 2013, although we are collapsing the distance that we can pro­­­­vide overnight service to the distribution area served by a particular mail processing facility,” Brennan said.

About 80 percent of First-Class Mail will still be delivered overnight.

The Postal Service stated its expectation to pursue additional consolidation activities for an additional 89 mail processing locations beginning in 2014 unless its circumstances change.

These consolidations would be based on long-term service standards that would significantly revise mail-entry times for customers seeking overnight delivery.

“Given that the Postal Service is currently projecting a $14 billion net loss in fiscal year 2012, and continuing annual losses of this magnitude, we simply cannot justify maintaining our current mail processing footprint,” Donahoe said.

When fully implemented in late 2014, the Postal Service expects its network consolidations to generate about $2.1 billion in annual cost reductions and lead to a total workforce reduction of up to 28,000 employees.

The list of 140 mail processing locations to be consolidated by February 2013 is available at http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/welcome.htm.

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