Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Postal Service Pursues Hassle-Free Consolidations

By shifting some mail handling from the Bronx to Manhattan recently, the U.S. Postal Service did an end run around union opposition and Congressional interference. Postal officials are increasingly using similar tactics around the country to bring about much-needed consolidation of their dropship network without stirring up local opposition.

USPS directed mailers of Standard class flats (mostly catalogs) and Periodicals (magazines and newspapers) to stop dropshipping mail to a Bronx facility as of May 22; mailers of Standard letters (direct mail) received the same directions last month. Those who want an SCF (Sectional Center Facility) discount for mail addressed to the Bronx can now get it by delivering to the Manhattan SCF instead.

The Postal Service stirred up a hornet's nest of opposition when it began an "area mail processing" study in 2005 to consider whether to move mail-handling duties from the Bronx to the Morgan facility in Manhattan. In December 2007, Congressman Jose E. Serrano inserted a provision into an appropriations bill that blocked any such move. The Bronx Congressman chairs a subcommittee that oversees some appropriations to the Postal Service.

It's not clear how many jobs were affected by the recent redirection from one New York borough to another. There have been reports of the Postal Service taking flat mail that is dropshipped to some SCFs and shifting it to Area Distribution Centers (ADCs) like Morgan for actual sorting. That has apparently become more common with the introduction of faster flat-sorting machines coupled with the recent declines in magazine and catalog volumes.

AMP studies often generate significant opposition among postal workers, the local media and politicians because of the many jobs involved and the potential loss of a town's postmark. Wilkes-Barre, PA; Staten Island, NY; and Winchester, VA are among the communities currently battling AMP studies.

By contrast, "redirections" of certain dropshipped mail typically fly beneath the radar because they are not publicly announced and do not involve the hot button known as First Class mail. Lakeland and Manasota Florida vehemently protested the formal consolidation of their processing and distribution centers earlier this year into a Tampa facility, but hardly a word was spoken when Standard and Periodicals flats were redirected last month from Fort Lauderdale to a facility near Miami (apparently in preparation for the Flats Sequencing System).

So far this year, flat mail has been redirected from six towns in Oklahoma, four in Pennsylvania, and facilities in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona, and California -- in addition to the Bronx. The pace of new AMP studies has also accelerated, according to a listing maintained by the American Postal Workers Union, as the Postal Service tries to adjust to lower mail volumes.


Justcarryingon said...

The postal service pulling an end around to cheat people out of money/jobs. There's a surprise. I know they need to make cuts in order to survive. Cut the postmasters--congressional approval needed--in most instances they do very little. Let the magazine reading clerks do their jobs at half the cost.--I wonder if this redirection of mail would work to affect a rural count???

Anonymous said...

Congressman Serrano can't send the Postal Service any appropriations because the Postal Service DOES NOT accept ANY tax subsidies, and hasn't since 1980.

The Postal Service is not immune from the current economic climate. The economy has affect the Postal Service just like any other business.

Every effort must be made to consolidate and match workhours to workload. The volume of mail has fallen off to levels that haven't been seen since the Great Depression.

Wake up people!

Terry_Jim said...

The volume of mail has fallen off to levels that haven't been seen since the Great Depression.Do you mean the great depression of 2002 and 2003?
That's the last time mail volumes have been this low, according to the USPS OIG. Furthermore, the projected decline for this year would put us back to 1997 levels.
A signifigant drop, to be sure, but not the total collapse nattering ninnies like anonymous are spouting to make cuts that will prevent future growth.

Ray from Omaha said...

Say Anonymous, yes the post office get money from the US goverment, and it is for the blind and disabled mailing. Try again. How do you think pays us for the free mail for the disabled.