US Postal Service Closing Offices and Offering Early Retirements

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

The United States Postal Service is offering nearly a quarter of its workforce early retirement and is cutting more than 3000 jobs in an effort to slash operation costs in the currently declining US economy. The USPS is expected to close six district offices that provide administrative functions, affecting more than 500 employees that work in those departments.

US Postal Service Priority Mail PackagingAccording to a postal service agency spokesperson, the USPS job cuts will save the post office about $100 million a year. Job cuts include administrative staff positions, management jobs, mail processing jobs, and others.

The economic downturn has taken a toll on mail service. The Postal Service reportedly lost $2.8 billion in 2008 and is facing even greater losses in 2009, despite rate increases, which include a two cent rate hike on the first-class postage stamp, scheduled to take affect on May 11. The new first-class postage rate will be 44 cents (up from the current 42 cent stamp).

Early retirement offers were made in 2008 but unions discouraged members from accepting them and they were not widely used by employees. I’ve read no reports that this years Postal Service early retirement offers will include financial incentives, and that may concern unions.

According to the American Postal Workers Union, retirement is a personal matter, and the union defers decisions to employees who meet the qualifications for early retirement. According to reports, the APWU may continue to challenge the postal service’s offering of early retirements that do not include severance pay.

Six of 80 district offices operated by the Postal Service will also be closed. Those offices include locations in Lake Mary, Florida; North Reading, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire; Edison, New Jersey; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Spokane, Washington. Officials for the Postal Service said office closings should not affect local mail delivery as district offices handle only administrative functions.

A nearly 10% drop in mail volume marks the postal service’s 8th consecutive quarter of postal volume declines. Postmaster, General John E. Potter, notified Congress in January that service cuts may be necessary, telling a Senate subcommittee that the Postal Service may be forced to cut mail delivery from six days to five days a week. 2009 Postal Holidays should not be affected.

While chiropractor offices are a tiny spec in the US Mail landscape, the drop in monthly mailings, multiplied by the number of offices nationwide, adds up. In our Los Angeles chiropractic office we’ve noticed a significant decline in postage service use since around late 2007.

Postcards were the first casualty. The office previously mailed an average of a thousand postcards monthly (at 23+ cents per mailing), an activity the office no longer engages in. Our Pitney Bowes postage meter costs the office nearly $40 per month, before adding postage, specialized ink, or other supplies. Like many other small businesses across America, the office has turned to electronic forms of media in delivering information.

The purchase of an electronic document scanner will soon take up the space now used by the postage meter. Documents are scanned and converted into PDF files, and sent via e-mail. What would once become postcards, now become HTML pages, that convert to blog posts, and monthly online e-mail newsletters.

Since 2008, the Postal Service has implemented a hiring freeze, frozen executive salaries, sold off light-use post office locations and reduced operating hours at others. @ 11:30 am | Article ID: 1237660255