Cell phones, text messaging, email, Facebook, Twitter, these various forms of instant communication are what the United States Postal service are up against in the 21st Century.
And for now, they are losing the battle.
USPS is in dire straights, and they need to act fast. One immediate panacea for cutting costs is to close down 3,700 USPS locations across the country. Restoration Plaza Post Office, located at 1368 Fulton Street, is on that list.
In a recent plea to Congress, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe stressed that the USPS is in financial distress and if congress did not act soon, the 200 plus year service could find itself out of money by the end of the fiscal year.
“Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
“Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.”
The USPS is struggling with ways to erase the $9.2 billion deficit that it will reach by the end of the fiscal year.
The USPS is the only letter delivery system in the United States that delivers to all 50 states and to every corner of each state. The USPS receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage stamps, and postal service products and services to fund its operations.
“Our situation is extremely serious,” said Donahoe, “If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.”
At the moment, the USPS is considering legislation to present to congress that will help reduce the costs of its service like:
1. Reduce delivery service from six days down to five;
2. Return $6.9 billion in Federal Employees Retirement System overpayments;
3. Allow the Postal Service to restructure its healthcare system to make it independent of federal programs;
4. Resolve a unique law requiring the Postal Service to make $5.5 billion annual payments to prefund retirement health benefits;
5. Grant the Postal Service the authority to provide a defined contribution retirement plan for new hires rather than the current defined benefit plan, and
6.Streamline the process for product development and pricing.
In the meantime, until Congress has time to review and push through any sort of olive branch for USPS, closing down some of the satellite centers seems to be their only immediate option.
Senior Public Relations Representative for the New York Metropolitan Area Darleen Reid insisted that the offices being considered for closing are not main offices, but rather retail locations and smaller branches that don’t do any major mail handling.
“We are not trying to disrupt letter service, but we do have some cuts that need to be made,” said Reid. “For now, just retail offices are being considered for closing in Brooklyn.”
Reid did offer a plan for if they close the retail locations. “If we do close a retail office, we would put in a Village Post Office.” she said
Village Post Offices are smaller automated station or local businesses that offer retail services like purchasing stamps and flat rate boxes.
And although the USPS is not a federally run program like the Federal Aviation Administration or the Peace Corps, it’s rules and regulations are voted on and mandated by Congress.
“We are not funded by the government, but we can’t really make any changes without government approval,” said Reid.
When asked if raising the price of stamps, which are currently 44 cents, might help, Reid replied, “We are only allowed to raise the price of stamps once a year by 2 percent or the consumer price index, and only with congressional approval. We pretty much have our hands tied behind our back.”
There is currently a no layoffs clause in the workers union’s contract, but the USPS is trying to find a way around it.
“We need to cut our workforce by at least 120,000, which we can do mostly through attrition; a lot of our employees are currently eligible.” said Reid. “We currently have a hiring freeze; we haven’t hired any full-time employees in several years.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., suggested that more people start sending passionate letters as a way to save the agency.