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About USPS Consolidation Plans
(Updated August 2009) The controversy over USPS efforts to cut the nation’s mail processing and distribution network persists, rekindled by a rash of recent announcements that the Postal Service is seeking to reduce operations in many communities across country.
Despite USPS assurances to the contrary, citizens, community leaders, and postal workers are concerned that a “realigned” mail processing network will delay delivery of their mail. For postal employees, consolidation often means that their jobs will be shifted to facilities far from their communities.
The Early Stages
The Postal Service first announced that it would seek to overhaul its mail processing network when it released its original Transformation Plan in April 2002; but it ignored demands by citizens and Congress for details about where, when, and how consolidations would take place. To date, the USPS has refused to provide specifics of its plans or the criteria it relies on when selecting facilities for consolidation.
Between Oct. 19, 2005. and Jan. 6, 2006, the Postal Service announced that it would conduct Area Mail Processing (AMP) feasibility studies at approximately 50 facilities.
APWU local unions were the first to alert their legislators, local media, and neighbors about the possible curtailment of mail processing and what it would mean for service. The subsequent opposition in many communities played a big role in derailing USPS consolidation proposals. In 2006 and 2007, 37 consolidation initiatives were terminated, placed on hold, or reversed.
During this time period the Postal Service was the subject of tough criticism by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Postal Regulatory Commission for the lack of transparency in its planning efforts, and for failing to allow for sufficient input from workers, citizens, and public officials in affected communities.
Only a handful of new AMP surveys were announced in 2006, 2007, and most of 2008; however, the Postal Service unleashed a barrage of new AMP studies in late 2008 and early 2009.
Since then, APWU locals from Florida to New York to Pennsylvania to Ohio have been blowing the whistle on plant consolidations that would have a negative effect on service and the affected communities. They have enlisted support from elected officials, notified the media, formed community coalitions, conducted informational picketing, launched petition campaigns, developed Web sites, and turned the tables on management at USPS-sponsored meetings designed to “sell” the consolidation plans to the pubic.
APWU members, legislators, and community activists point out that if facilities were consolidated:
With so many negative effects on the horizon, why would the USPS even consider implementing such a plan? Postal executives say the consolidation of postal facilities will lead to greater efficiencies, but they have consistently failed to offer conclusive evidence to support this assertion.
The APWU will continue to oppose misguided consolidations, and will organize a grass-roots movement to stop plans that will degrade service, weaken communities, and harm workers.
Round Three: Stations and Branches
On May 15, 2009, the USPS notified the APWU about another initiative to gut the postal network in a letter disclosing that it is “considering consolidating operations in our larger stations and branches.” [read more]