Tractor-trailers back into the U.S. Postal Service’s Albany Mail Processing Center on South Slappey Boulevard Thursday. The USPS has released its list of facilities it will consider closing. Albany and Valdosta made the list.
ALBANY — In an effort to stave off insolvency and to save up to $3 billion each year, the U.S. Postal Service will be scrutinizing its worldwide operations, officials said Thursday. Included in the review will be whether to close mail processing centers in Albany and Valdosta.
With online commerce expanding and correspondence via email and social media booming, revenues continue to be in decline for the USPS, particularly in the most lucrative area — first-class postage.
On Thursday, USPS administrators released a list of processing centers that could be closed and operations consolidated.
Stephen Seewoester, a spokesman for the USPS, told The Albany Herald Thursday that possible closures were limited to processing centers in Albany and Valdosta and would not impact existing post offices in either town.
The impact on those who work at the processing centers, however, could be significant.
Seewoester said that 50,000 people currently are employed in the processing centers that are being studied nationwide. Closing the centers would mean layoffs for many of those people.
And that has drawn the attention of federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany.
Bishop on Thursday signed on to a bipartisan letter from House members to Postal Regulatory Chairwoman Ruth Goldway. The lawmakers said they were concerned that the potential closure of about 3,700 postal facilities would disproportionately hurt rural communities, small businesses and senior citizens.
In the letter, the legislators suggest using some of the
$50-$75 billion that they say Postal Service employees and customers have overpaid to the U.S. Treasury during the last three decades to help address some of the agency’s solvency issues.
“Thousands of working families, entrepreneurs, seniors and veterans in Southwest Georgia heavily rely on the services provided by our nation’s Postal Service,” Bishop said Thursday. “The widespread closure of postal facilities in our rural communities has the potential to adversely impact our region’s economic development and possibly impair the ability of Georgia businesses to fully utilize their inter-state commerce capabilities.”
According to the Postal Service, the organization is working to stave off bankruptcy. Later this month, the organization is congressionally-mandated to make a $5.5 billion payment toward retiree-benefits and healthcare plans. Postal officials have said a delay in making that payment, as some have proposed, would not be enough to stave off the fiscal crisis the service faces.
“The Postal Service is in a crisis today because it operates within a restrictive business model and has limited flexibility to respond to a changing marketplace,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs earlier this month.
“We need the ability to operate more as a business does. This applies to the way we provide products and services, allocate resources, configure our retail, delivery and mail processing networks and manage our workforce.”