USPS Blind to Likely Effects of Plant Closures

Despite a flurry of Congressional and public opposition the U.S. Postal Service is set to begin shuttering 82 mail processing plants around the country in a move that will inevitably slow down delivery of first class and some other forms of mail.

The postal service’s moves are very likely going to slow down mail delivery quite significantly and effectively lower service standards the American people have come to expect. These cutbacks are all being made under the guise of saving money and “rationalizing” USPS operations, efforts it began at least two years ago.

Just wait until people start feeling the effects of substandard mail delivery when they can’t get their bills delivered on time. This which could well lead to consumers being charged unnecessary late fees because the USPS—which are all sent first class– deliver those bills on time.

Let alone seniors and disabled people not receiving their Social Security checks promptly.

The USPS Inspector General’s Office raised many of these concerns in a report last year and also blasted the postal service’s secrecy in deciding which plants to close https://uspsoig.gov/sites/default/files/document-library-files/2014/no-ma-15-001.pdf.

Apparently at least under outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, the USPS has been more interested in developing profit-making services that only cater to one sector of the population rather than everybody and in neutralizing the USPS’s highly unionized workforce with such efforts as selling postal products at Staples office supply stores.

And what does he care? He’ll probably move into some lucrative new job some place where he can use his extensive government contacts and knowledge of how Washington works.

For all we know Donahoe may well follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Jack Potter who took a top position at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when he stepped down a few years ago.

It’s way too early to tell what new Postmaster General Megan Brennan might do but like Donahoe she’s a USPS lifer so her behavior may not be all that different.

Not that the USPS should not try to make money and once again become profitable. Congress could help matters by lifting the postal service’s unconscionable annual $5.8 billion burden to prefund healthcare costs of future retirees.

This obligation, part of the last postal reform law in 2006 has massively crippled the USPS. Some observers have said this provision may have been included in the law as an effort to weaken the USPS so much that the only way to save it would be to privatize it.

Why should anybody be optimistic that Congress will do anything to help out the USPS and make it more solvent and friendlier to people? No sooner had the new Congress taken office than it began trying to gut Social Security. So on the face of it they don’t seem very concerned about the effects of their actions on ordinary people.

What’s more, these new plant closures also represent an opportunity for the USPS to sell off more real estate to private developers, something that’s been creeping up over the past few years and shows no sign of stopping despite slowly growing public protests.

Have we come to the point where the postal service exists only as a way to line the pockets of a few rich people and corporations and not a vital and necessary public service?

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