USPS Lists 139 Facilities
As ‘Potential Candidates’ for Consolidation
APWU Web News Article #43-06, July 31, 2006
The Postal Service was forced to acknowledge in testimony to the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) in July that nearly a year ago it had compiled a list of 139 facilities [PDF] that were being considered “potential candidates” for consolidation. The USPS provided the list to the PRC on July 25.
David Williams, who coordinates the Area Mail Processing program at USPS headquarters, revealed the existence of the list during cross-examination on July 19. He testified that the list of facilities was part of the Evolutionary Network Development (END) initiative, and was generated in September 2005. It identified facilities that postal headquarters wanted regional managers to consider for possible inclusion in the program, he said.
Under the Postal Reorganization Act, the Postal Service must obtain an opinion from the PRC about network realignment plans that would have a “substantially nationwide” affect on mail service. The USPS notified the PRC of plans to realign the postal network on Feb. 14, 2006.
But until July 25, 2006, the Postal Service had failed to provide a comprehensive list of sites under consideration for consolidation. The USPS announced the consolidation of some operations at 10 facilities on Oct. 19 and Nov. 1, 2005; since then, the USPS has notified the APWU of approximately 40 additional AMP “feasibility studies.” Most of those are included among the 139 facilities.
“This list is further evidence of the Postal Service’s stubborn refusal to share its plans for the nation’s mail network with the American people,” said APWU President William Burrus. “The union has repeatedly asked the USPS to provide an overview of their plans, as have numerous elected officials.
“But the Postal Service continues to do everything possible to hide its intentions, to keep workers in the dark, and to exclude citizens and small businesses from providing input about how the changes would affect them,” he said. An April 2005 report to Congress by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the USPS consolidation plan lacks “clarity, criteria, and accountability.”
Under the terms of an extension of the union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Postal Service, the USPS was required to supply the APWU with its plan to consolidate facilities in December 2002. The Postal Service failed to meet that requirement, and did not brief the union on its plan until Feb. 14, 2006, the same day it notified the PRC. The Postal Service denied the existence of a list of facilities being considered for consolidation at the briefing, as it had for more than three years.
“It’s one thing for a private enterprise to make business decisions behind closed doors,” Burrus said. “But that is simply unacceptable for a public institution like the Postal Service.” The union president warned that the network realignment is expected to continue for several years, and that the list of 139 should not be considered a final list of potentially affected facilities.
In April, the union filed a lawsuit alleging that the Postal Service had begun its consolidation program nationwide without first obtaining an opinion on its plan from the PRC. The complaint also charges that the plan ignores potentially adverse effects on service and fails to consider the opinions and needs of people affected by the changes.
The Postal Service response to the complaint admits that its plan considers only costs, but points to the ongoing proceeding before the Postal Rate Commission, in which service impacts are being considered. The Postal Service continues to claim it has a right to implement its plans without waiting for a Rate Commission opinion.
“The USPS consolidation plan will degrade mail service for citizens and small businesses,” Burrus said. “We will make sure that the plan is brought into the light of day, and that the people have an opportunity to be heard.”