There’s some moderately big news out of the Postal Regulatory Commission, which has denied the U.S. Postal Service’s request for fast-track review of plans to weaken first-class service standards and close up to approximately 250 mail processing plants.
Last month, USPS lawyers had asked the commission to issue a legally required advisory opinion by mid-April. But in a Tuesday order, the PRC said “the complexity of the case appears to justify the schedule as issued.” Under that timetable, the commission won’t release the opinion until late July at the earliest.
Long story short, this is bad news for postal leaders eager to get the downsizing under way as soon as possible. Although the commission’s opinions are non-binding, they are closely read on Capitol Hill. Thus, it will be politically difficult for the Postal Service to proceed with any plant closings before this particular opinion comes out.
Those proposed closings are ultimately expected to eliminate 28,000 jobs, a fact that does not enthuse members of Congress with plants in their states or districts. To mollify them, the Postal Service has already promised to hold off on any closings until mid-May. The latest order, however, probably means nothing will happen until at least mid-summer.
The Postal Service is disappointed by the decision, spokeswoman Sue Brennan said in a statement. “However, we will continue to move forward with our processes and communicate fully with stakeholders, as we pursue efforts to optimize our network and cut costs.”