Brown Has Sent Letters to Postmaster General Patrick Donohue Outlining Concerns with Closures, Which Could Lead to Significant Job Losses, Delayed Mail, and Deteriorated Service; Brown Has Sent Office Representatives to Public Hearings to Stand with Local Residents in Opposition to Closures
Brown Releases List of Processing Facilities and Post Offices Targeted for Closure
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Following the announcement yesterday of a moratorium on closures of U.S. Postal Service mail processing centers and post offices targeted for closure open through May, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a news conference call today to outline legislation that would help the USPS return to fiscal solvency. The Postal Service Protection Act preserves Saturday mail delivery, restricts the closure of rural and urban post offices, and protects mail processing facilities to ensure maintenance of timely service.
One hundred and twenty post offices and 10 mail processing facilities have been targeted for closure in Ohio, and Brown has sent multiple letters to Postmaster General Patrick Donohue outlining concerns with the closures, which could lead to significant job losses, delayed mail, and deteriorated service. Brown has also sent representatives to public hearings across Ohio in recent months to stand with local residents in opposition to these closures.
“Before the USPS hastily closes facilities, we should examine common-sense steps to strengthen the USPS by improving its fiscal solvency,” Brown said. “This legislation will address the Postal Service’s fiscal troubles while maintaining jobs and high-quality service in Ohio and throughout the nation.”
At the urging of members of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Postal Service announced yesterday a five-month moratorium on closing postal facilities, aimed at giving Congress more time to enact postal reform legislation. During the moratorium, scheduled to end on May 15, 2012, the Postal Service will continue to study the impact of proposed closures on service and costs and to solicit community input.
“This moratorium is a win for Ohio, Ohio business, and Ohio workers. Though the Postal Service faces serious challenges, this will provide time to reach a solution that will strengthen the USPS, instead of crippling it. It is vital that all Ohio residents and businesses receive the same level of consumer service and access to their mail,” Brown added.
Brown is a cosponsor of the Postal Service Protection Act, legislation that would address the most immediate financial problem facing the postal service by eliminating the unique requirement that the postal service pre-fund 75 years worth of future retiree health benefits in just 10 years. This mandate costs USPS between $5.4 and $5.8 billion per year, and it accounts for 100 percent of the Postal Service’s $20 billion in losses from 2007-2008.
According to studies by the Hay Group and the Segal Company, the postal service has overpaid at least $50 billion into its pension plans. Because of these overpayments, USPS has been forced to subsidize retirement accounts for the entire Federal government. This bill would allow USPS to recover these pension overpayments to both fund its retiree health benefits and cover its operational expenses.
Specifically, the Postal Service Protection Act would:
1. Fix the immediate fiscal problem of the postal service by allowing the postal service to recover the overpayments it made to its retirement programs. Additionally, this bill would allow the postal service to recover the overpayments that it has made to its pension plans.
2. Establish new ways the Post Office can generate revenue, by ending the prohibition on USPS providing non-postal services, such as:
- Providing notary services, new media services, issuance of licenses (drivers licenses, hunting licenses, fishing licenses)
- Contracting with state and local agencies to provide services
- Shipping wine and beer
- Encouraging innovative ways to address the shift toward electronic mail and away from hard-copy mail
3. Prevent the closure of rural post offices by giving the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent closures based on the effect on the community and the effect on employees. Right now, the Postal Regulatory Commission only has the authority to review a decision to close, but it does not have any binding authority to prevent the closure, even if it finds it was flawed. The bill would also ensure more transparency in the closure process by requiring USPS to inform the communities that are being studied for closure
4. Protect six-day delivery
5. Protect mail-processing facilities by ensuring strict standards for delivering first class mail delivery on time that would make it more difficult to close area mail processing facilities.
The USPS released the following statement yesterday: “The U.S. Postal Service, in response to a request made by multiple U.S. Senators, has agreed to delay the closing or consolidation of any post office or mail processing facility until May 15, 2012. The Postal Service will continue all necessary steps required for the review of these facilities during the interim period, including public input meetings. The Postal Service hopes this period will help facilitate the enactment of comprehensive postal legislation. Given the Postal Service’s financial situation and the loss of mail volume, the Postal Service must continue to take all steps necessary to reduce costs and increase revenue.”
On September 15, 2011, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to review its mail processing network in the hopes of reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. The Postal Service is currently considering the elimination of overnight delivery and studying the possibility of closing 3,700 mostly rural post offices and 252 mail processing facilities across the country, at a cost of 28,000-30,000 jobs. Attached is a list of the post offices in Ohio targeted for closure. A list of the processing facilities targeted for closure also follows.
- Akron Processing and Distribution Center
- Athens Customer Service Mail Processing Center
- Canton Processing and Distribution Facility
- Chillicothe Customer Service Mail Processing Center
- Cincinnati Processing and Distribution Center
- Dayton Processing and Distribution Facility
- Ironton Customer Service Mail Processing Center
- Steubenville Customer Service Mail Processing Center
- Toledo Processing and Distribution Facility
- Youngstown Processing and Distribution Facility