Postal workers received some long awaited - albeit somewhat noncommittal - good news recently as news began to circulate that the U.S. Postal Service appears to be stepping back from its plan to shut down post offices and merge processing facilities across the nation in an effort to save money.
Locally, the plan could have meant the closure of a number of smaller post offices in Thurston and Pierce counties and the consolidation of postal sorting centers in Tacoma and Lacey with Seattle's sorting hub. The U.S. Postal Service looks to be delaying any such actions as Senate Bill 1789 makes its way to law, likely to throw $11 billion at the Postal Services ailing bottom line. SB 1789 has been passed in the U.S. Senate and is awaiting action in the House.
However, any light at the end of the tunnel for the U.S. Postal Service still requires a squint to see, and it's worth nothing that this latest development would only constitute a momentary pause to the agency's ongoing financial troubles. The Postal Service estimates it is losing $3.2 billion a quarter. The Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers have also argued that a 2006 mandate from Congress that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund future retiree health obligation puts an unprecedented and unfair crunch on the agency, costing $5.5 billion a year, or $21 billion over the last five years.
Postal Service Spokesman Richard Watkins explained the reprieve in an official statement.
"Any proposals to close these facilities have been placed on hold and will not close at this time," said a statement from Richard Watkins, Postal Service spokesman in the Kansas City, Mo., area. "Going forward, the Postal Service will evaluate how best to incorporate them into long-term plans for effective and efficient retail service."