DeJoy starts USPS 10-year plan with plant consolidations
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has directed the consolidation of 18 mail-processing plants to be completed by November, a first step in his 10-year plan to rescue the United States Postal Service from fiscal ruin.
The 18 mail-processing plant changes are as follows: Bend, Ore., to Portland; Cape Girardeau, Mo., to St. Louis; Erie, Pa., to Pittsburgh; Gainesville, Fla., to Jacksonville; Grand Island, Neb., to Omaha; Grenada, Miss., to Jackson; Hattiesburg, Miss., to Mobile, Ala.; Huntsville, Ala., to Birmingham; Mid-Hudson, N.Y., to Albany; Minot, N.D., to Bismarck; Norfolk, Neb., to Omaha; North Bay, Calif., to Oakland and San Francisco; Paducah, Ky., to Evansville, Ind.; Pocatello, Idaho, to Salt Lake City, Utah; Rock Spring Wyo., to Salt Lake City; Seattle East, Wash., to Seattle; Southern, Conn., to Hartford; and Wausau, Wis., to Green Bay.
The decision to resume plant consolidations, which the agency halted in 2015 under fire from Congress, was blamed on the continuing decline in letter mail volume.
The consolidations came as the USPS also announced it was taking several steps to avoid being overwhelmed by packages during the 2021 holiday mail season.
The agency’s mail and package operations were jammed in recent months after it received more letters and packages than it could process.
To forestall a repeat, the USPS announced April 27 that it is accelerating the installation of 138 package-sorting machines and leasing an additional 45 annexes to handle expected package surges.
Saying package growth grew 28 percent in March over the previous year levels, the Postal Service tied these actions to DeJoy’s controversial Delivering for America plan.
According to the April 27 new release, more package-handling equipment is being ordered and no postal workers will face layoffs.
“The Postal Service’s future depends on its ability to adapt to the evolving demands of our customers,” DeJoy said in the news release, “These initiatives and investments give our employees the infrastructure and technology they need to serve today’s e-Commerce marketplace reliably and efficiently.”
The news release noted that mail volume has declined by 39 billion pieces, or 23 percent, in the past 10 years and is continuing to decline.
First-class mail has dropped by 27 percent in the same period, and single-piece letters bearing stamps have dropped 41 percent, the news release said.
DeJoy has said his recovery plan, which requires Congressional approval, could avert $160 billion in losses by the USPS.
Some members of Congress and the mailing industry have been critical of DeJoy’s plan, saying it focuses too much attention on packages and avoids any plan to boost letter mail.
The American Postal Workers Union attacked DeJoy’s plan to resume closing mail-processing plants, saying the idea was “a slap in the face of postal workers.”
“We have made crystal clear to postal management that any further plant consolidations are a misguided strategy that not only disrupts the lives of postal workers, but will further delay mail,” Mark Dimondstein, American Postal Workers Union president, said.
“The previous plant closings and consolidations were a complete failure and we will fight back facility-by-facility and community-by-community to save these processing plants,” Dimondstein asserted.
Doug A. Tulino, chief human resources officer for the USPS, disclosed in a May 3 letter that the agency soon will be shrinking its administrative staff by a reduction in force, with the information to be mailed to affected workers on May 21. The agency will also offer a voluntary early retirement for some workers, he said.
Tulino did not state in his letter the number of workers who would be affected.
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