Postal union to file complaint over USPS cutback plans

The American Postal Workers Union is to file a formal complaint against the US Postal Service for moving ahead with plans to close dozens of mail plants from next month. The APWU, which represents more than 220,000 USPS employees and retirees, said yesterday the Postal Service should not be able to change nationwide mail service standards before regulators have assessed the plans.

USPS revealed a modified network consolidation plan last month that called for closure of 48 mail plants in July or August. A further 92 plants would also be closed in early 2013.

The Postal Service said its amended plan would save $1.2bn in annual operating costs, while this would increase to $2.1bn in savings if a second closure phase is needed in 2014.

The first phase of the plan through to early 2013 looks likely to cost around 13,000 jobs, and will see First Class Mail overnight delivery becoming available only locally around surviving mail plants.

Under US postal law, if the Postal Service changes anything that would affect nationwide mail services, it must request an Advisory Opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission. Although USPS does not legally have to abide by that Advisory Opinion, in practice these Opinions can influence its plans.

The Commission has been reviewing the previous version of the USPS network consolidation plans, filed in January, in a process that is unlikely to see an Advisory Opinion produced until at least August.

“Due process”

“The circumstances the Postal Service finds itself in doesn’t detract from the obligation to provide due process”

The APWU said yesterday at a Postal Regulatory Commission hearing that it appeared that the modified USPS network consolidation plan was not going to receive adequate analysis in its own right.

Darrell Anderson, counsel for the APWU, said: “The APWU will be filing a complaint asserting the position that the Postal Service may not proceed to implement its network consolidation plan and affect service standard changes without receiving the Advisory Opinion of the Commission in this matter.”

Anderson said there was a “complete lack of analysis” of the modified USPS plan, and stated the belief that the Postal Service had provided insufficient estimates of revenues that would be lost by adopting the “interim” service standard changes as 48 plants are closed this summer.

“We recognise that the circumstances the Postal Service finds itself in are unusual and difficult. But that doesn’t detract from the obligation the Postal Service and the Commission to provide due process,” he said.

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