On Monday, the Postal Service announces that its governing board has given orders to accelerate cost-cutting measures. On Thursday, the Postal Service notifies the National Postal Mail Handlers Union that it is speeding up the shutdown of mail processing operations at 18 plants.
Contrary to what some might assume, though, “the decision is not part of the package directed by the USPS Board of Governors,” postal spokeswoman Sue Brennan said in an email. “But because we have had the flexibility to consolidate operations in the past—when we could do so—we’re following through now as the opportunity exists.”
For employees at the affected plants—which include facilities in Florida, Texas and Wyoming—that may be a distinction without a difference. Under the Postal Service’s three-year plan to halve the size of its processing network, the 18 were supposed to be axed next year. Under the new timetable, they’ll join 82 other facilities set for consolidation between this month and July. In an interview, John Hegarty, president of the mail handlers union, was hopeful that the departure of thousands of workers under two early-out programs in the last year will lessen the number of employees who will have to move to keep working for the Postal Service. In any case, he said, the union will continue to stress that dislocation be kept to a minimum.
For anyone who’s wondering, incidentally, postal officials still aren’t saying exactly what they will be doing in response to the Board of Governors directive. Information on that score will come “as soon as possible,” another spokesman said.