On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the United States Postal Service announced it will delay all closures or consolidations of its offices and facilities nationwide until May 15, 2012, due to pressure from Congress. Rep. David Price (NC-04) is calling for Congress to use this opportunity to reform the Postal Service to ensure its long-term viability. At the heart of the Postal Service’s current financial crisis is a backbreaking pension mandate that has led the Postal Service to consider closing thousands of post offices and hundreds of mail processing centers, including many in North Carolina.
The USPS’s proposed closure plan would eliminate 120,000 jobs nationwide by 2015. Two Fayetteville mail processing centers, which employ more than 400 people, are being considered for closure and consolidation under the plan in addition to the East Durham and Raleigh Five Points offices in the Triangle. Last week, Price wrote to Postmaster Donahue opposing the proposed closure and consolidation of the Fayetteville facilities and expressed his opposition at a public meeting held with Postal officials in Fayetteville regarding the proposal. The Postal Service has also recommended eliminating six-day delivery and overnight delivery of first class mail in order to cut costs.
“Congress should seize the opportunity presented by the Postal Service’s decision to delay the closure and consolidation of its offices and facilities,” Price said. “We can reform the Postal Service and preserve its independence from taxpayer funding without drastic cuts that will cost thousands of jobs in our communities and lead to significant reductions of service, but we need to act before it’s too late.”
Price is currently a cosponsor of legislation that would provide immediate relief to pension obligations imposed on USPS by a 2006 law. Under current law, the Postal Service is required to pre-pay $5.5 billion a year (until 2016) into a fund for future retiree health care costs. The legislation would also reimburse the Postal Service for overpayments it made into the Federal Employee Retirement System for employees who earned federal government retirement benefits while the service was still a government agency. Under the bill, the reimbursement amount would be determined by an Office of Personnel Management study.
“My colleagues should view this six month reprieve on post office and facility closures as a call to action. We must act with a sense of urgency to pass common-sense legislation pending before both the House and Senate to reform the Postal Service pension prepayment mandate before the Postal Service takes unnecessary draconian action.” Price said. “Congressional leadership should get to work on this right away. Congress imposed this backbreaking mandate on the Postal Service, and Congress should reform it before we talk about massive closures and layoffs.”