Johnson City’s postal operations safe for now

Gary B. Gray • May 19, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Johnson City’s East Main Street office is not among the U.S. Postal Service’s 140 offices that will undergo consolidations during the next two years to save money during its ongoing financial hardship.

This does not mean the office is immune from a second round of consolidations in 2014.

In February, the USPS announced it would move its mail processing operations at Johnson City’s main post office to Knoxville sometime after May 15, absent any intervening action by the federal government. Shifting mail processing operations to Knoxville would affect mail service for those with ZIP codes beginning with 376 or 242, said Phil Clark, American Postal Workers Union president, local 365. When the USPS first announced the proposal in August, it mentioned 63 employees would be affected. A Nov. 22 release said 33 employees would be affected and more than $2 million would be saved.

May 15 marked the end of a temporary moratorium on consolidations, and Congress did not enact legislation to help financially.

Still, Johnson City survived the cut.

“This is just the first phase, and people need to remember that,” USPS spokesman David Walton said from Knoxville Friday. “The moratorium on actions for the first phase expired May 15. That came and went without any legislation from Congress.

“Johnson City is not on the list. We’re working with the unions to on a retirement incentive, but nothing has been accomplished. We’re still pushing for legislation that would help us out and possibly put offices on a five-day schedule instead of six.” Tennessee offices in Jackson, Clinton and Memphis are on the list of offices that will see cuts.

Walton said the consolidation plan is based on a study of 215 USPS mail processing centers nationwide. The study was initiated in response to a 25 percent decline in first-class mail volume that has occurred since 2006, and a corresponding decline in revenues generated by the sale of postage and other postal service products and services.

The Postal Service will begin consolidating operations this summer — which mostly involve transferring mail-processing operations from smaller to larger facilities. Due to the volume of high-priority mail predicted for the election and holiday mailing seasons, no consolidating activities will be conducted from September through December. Approximately 5,000 employees will begin receiving notifications next week related to consolidating and other efficiency-enhancing activities to be conducted this summer.

“We will be conducting consolidation activities this summer at only 48 locations,” Megan Brennan, chief operating officer of the Postal Service said in a news release Thursday. “As a result, nearly all consolidating activities in 2012 will occur in August and then will resume again the early part of next year.”

These consolidating activities will reduce the size of the Postal Service work force by approximately 13,000 employees and, when fully implemented, will generate cost reductions of approximately $1.2 billion annually.

“The Postal Service will be communicating with our customers and employees about these changes in great detail,” Brennan added. “We will work closely with our customers to ensure there are no surprises as we move forward.”

The Postal Service has reduced the size of its work force by 244,000 career employees since 2000 without resorting to layoffs, according to the release.

When fully implemented in late 2014, the Postal Service expects its network consolidations to generate approximately $2.1 billion in annual cost reductions, and lead to a total work force reduction of up to 28,000 employees.

For a complete list of affected post offices, visit www.about  . usps.com/news  .

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