Plan to close post offices changes

June 5, 2012

WASHINGTON—New plans for keeping rural post offices open, rather than a large-scale shutdown, emerged from the U.S. Postal Service in May. Responding to major pushback from Congress and mailer groups like National Newspaper Association, USPS says it has a new thought.
Instead of closing 3,750 post offices, it has reviewed 17,000 post offices and decided 13,000 of them will have reduced operations hours. Most will be open 2-4 hours a day. Some will have a six-hour operation. Thousands of postmasters will be moved into retirement, though some may come back as casual employees.
NNA had recommended in 2011 that although many small offices could be unnecessary to postal operations, they still could be central to their communities. NNA Postal Committee Chair Max Heath suggested instead having a circuit-rider postmaster oversee a group of offices, which could then be operated by lower-level clerks.
USPS will explore this option with communities. If communities do not want the shorter window service, they may opt to transfer service to a nearby facility, move to an operation co-located with another retail business in the so-called Village Post Office concept or expand rural delivery so letter carriers could sell stamps and pick up packages.
How rural carriers will be handled remains to be seen. In some post office reductions, carrier route originations have been shifted to other post offices despite the fact that window service may still be available in the old location.
The new proposal will be filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission for review in June.

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