The U.S. Postal Service, hit hard by declining mail volume and revenue, announced plans yesterday to consolidate mail-processing centers around the country, and those changes will mean additional work at the Columbia facility.
Quincy, Ill., was notified yesterday that work performed at its center will be shifted to Columbia. About 60 people work at the Quincy facility.
“Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation,” Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan said in a statement. Brian Sperry, a Postal Service spokesman in Denver, said more than 200 processing facilities have been targeted for closure nationwide.
The closings don’t affect the Postal Service’s retail or business mail units in Missouri. No date had been set for the consolidations, but Richard Watkins, spokesman for the Postal Service’s regional office in Kansas City, said they would not take effect before May 15.
The exact impact on employment in Columbia is unknown, said Valerie Welsch, spokeswoman for the Gateway District of the Postal Service. Some new employees might be required, but the number will depend on transfers from Quincy and other factors, she said.
May 15 is the final day of a moratorium on any actions intended to give Congress time for actions that would shore up Postal Service finances.
“Nothing will happen until after that date,” Welsch said.
The Postal Service, which forecasts a record $14.1 billion loss by the end of this year, recently said it will lose as much as $18.2 billion a year by 2015 if Congress doesn’t allow it to cut Saturday delivery, slow first-class mail by one day and raise the cost of a postage stamp.
Earlier this month, the Postal Service also said its quarterly loss was up to $3.3 billion amid declining mail volume and said it could run out of money by October. The Postal Service is an independent agency of government and is subject to some congressional control.
Once the moratorium ends, the process of shifting the work will begin.
“It will come in phases, and at this time, we don’t have timelines for when those phases take place,” Welsch said. “In general, June will be the earliest any of those plants consolidate.”
In Missouri, the Postal Service plans to shift the work from its Springfield distribution and processing facility to its Kansas City distribution center and move work from the Cape Girardeau distribution center to a site in downtown St. Louis, Watkins said. Work at the Topeka, Kan., distribution center also will go to the facility in Kansas City.
“The key is that overall mail volume is down 20 percent,” Watkins said. First-class mail is down 25 percent since 2006, he said.
The Springfield closing in Missouri will mean a loss of 65 positions, and the Cape Girardeau closing will cost 71 positions, Watkins said.
Some transfer opportunities will be available.
Jan Manlove, secretary-treasurer of the Wichita, Kan., local of the American Postal Workers Union, said yesterday the cuts likely would contribute to the Postal Service’s decline.
“Cuts to the Postal Service will only hasten the problem. It does not help the Postal Service at all,” Manlove said. “It will slow down service, which will encourage more people to not use the Postal Service. It’s sort of a death spiral.”
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