The move will temporarily protect tens of thousands of jobs nationwide, including more than 160 jobs in West Virginia, and service for customers.
The decision came about after Rockefeller and 21 other Senators asked USPS for time to allow Congress an opportunity to pass needed reforms that protect jobs, preserve postal service, and put the USPS on a sustainable path. This week, the USPS said it would hold off on any closures until at least May 15, 2012.
“The proposed post office closings and mail processing consolidations could seriously harm communities throughout West Virginia — slashing critical jobs in our local communities, and slowing or even halting mail service in dozens of neighborhoods,” Rockefeller said ina press release. “I’m glad that the USPS is now delaying these actions for six months. There is no question that USPS is facing serious financial problems, but rather than slashing jobs and services in rural areas, I believe that Congress can and should take steps to resolve some of these issues, and hopefully save some of the jobs that might otherwise get cut. Particularly as so many families are just trying to make ends meet, we owe it to our postal workers to try to keep as many of them in their jobs as possible.”
The press release went on to say that, during these six months, the USPS will continue to study the impact of proposed closures on service and costs and to solicit community input.
On September 15, the USPS announced plans to review its mail processing network in the hopes of reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. The USPS is currently considering the elimination of overnight delivery and studying the possibility of closing 3,700 mostly rural post offices and 252 mail processing facilities.
The release said West Virginia faces a disproportionate number of closures and consolidations, particularly when compared to much larger states like California, which are not as heavily impacted. West Virginia faces 150 post office closings and eight active mail processing center consolidations.
In October, Rockefeller led the West Virginia delegation in sending a letter to the USPS Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe expressing their strong concerns about the potential mail processing consolidations in West Virginia. They urged USPS to seriously consider the impact that the consolidations would have on jobs, and requested that the USPS consider moving and keeping mail processing operations in West Virginia as it seeks to meet its budget challenges.
The news comes a few weeks too late for the Cora community, which lost its post office last month. After more than 70 years in business in the Cora community, on November 5, the post office closed its doors. Two days later, the doors were locked for good.
On several occasions, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) has voiced his displeasure with the United States Postal Service's decision to close several post offices and mail processing facilities in West Virginia.
On Tuesday, Rahall issued a statement in response to the Postal Service’s announcement that it will delay the closing or consolidation of any post office or mail processing facility until May 15, 2012.
“I have been fighting tooth and nail for months to get the Postal Service to see the light. I hope this moratorium results in fewer closures, but, given the direction of the Postal Service, it may just result in the shuttering of postal facilities being pushed down the road. We have to keep fighting to convince the Postal Service that we need and deserve our post offices.”
At least one local post office — at Cora — has already been closed. Several other local post offices, including facilities at Ethel, Kistler and Sarah Ann in Logan County, Rawl and Ragland in Mingo County and several others in Boone and Lincoln counties, are currently part of the closure studies the USPS has been doing.
The USPS was looking to close one in every 10 post offices nationwide to deal with a large deficit due to a decrease in mail.
The Postal Service announced its decision late Tuesday. It will continue to review the closure of postal facilities during the interim period, as well as continue holding public input meetings.
To reach Staff Writer Michael Browning with news tips, questions or comments, please call him at 304-752-6950, extension 309, or e-mail him at email@example.com.