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In a meeting with the APWU on Feb. 13, postal officials notified the APWU that they plan to begin consolidating mail processing facilities as soon as the moratorium on consolidations ends. The moratorium is set to expire on May 15.
Top-level postal managers were unable – or unwilling – to specify which mail processing centers would be closed immediately. Decisions will be made at the end of February, they said.
At the conclusion of the process, approximately 200 of the 461 mail processing centers will remain, the postal officials reported.
Not Waiting for PRC, Congress
The notification to the union is significant because it indicates the Postal Service does not intend to await an advisory opinion by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on the effect of changes in service standards necessitated by the massive elimination of mail processing centers. When the USPS intends to implement changes that will have a “substantially nationwide impact on service” it must seek an advisory opinion from the PRC. The PRC is expected to render its opinion in August.
Nor does the USPS intend to await action by Congress to address the Postal Service’s financial crisis. The Postal Service agreed to a six-month moratorium on consolidations in December, in response to a request from 22 senators. The senators sought the delay in an effort to avert drastic reductions in service to the American people while Congress considers postal reform legislation.
The USPS is required to notify the union at the national level at least 90 days in advance when “a major relocation of employees is planned in major metropolitan areas or due to the implementation of national postal mail networks.” In accordance with Article 12.4.B of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Postal Service must meet with the APWU to “fully advise the Union how it intends to implement the plan.”
Destruction of Network, Jobs
APWU President Cliff Guffey condemned the USPS decision. “We are outraged that the Postal Service intends to forge ahead with the destruction of the mail processing network,” he said. “The USPS is breaking faith with members of Congress, postal unions, mailers and the American people.
At the meeting, USPS officials said network realignment would continue through 2015, but that information was not included in written material they provided to the APWU.
Postal officials said that as a result of the consolidations, approximately 35,000 jobs will be eliminated in the crafts represented by the APWU, including more than 13,800 Clerks, close to 7,000 Maintenance Craft employees, and more than 1,100 Motor Vehicle Craft employees.
Workers, Customers, Legislators
The USPS announced on Sept. 14, 2011, that it would consider consolidating 252 mail processing centers. One week later, the USPS filed a notice in the Federal Register announcing that as a result of the planned consolidations, it would have to degrade delivery standards. At the meeting, postal officials said they would publish the “final rule” changing delivery standards in mid-April.
In the months that followed the USPS consolidation announcement, APWU members, businesspeople and community residents packed public meetings and voiced stiff opposition to the closure of mail processing facilities.
“This announcement makes it all the more important that APWU members reach out to their senators to let them know that S. 1789 should be amended,” said Guffey.
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