A legal ad that ran in The Daily Tribune News lays out plans for the processing operation consolidations. A list of more than 250 processing facilities, released last year, included Cartersville among those to be considered. A spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service clarified those items in the legal ad emphasizing the fact that retail services of the Cartersville post office at 14 Liberty Drive will not be affected by the proposed consolidation nor would the time of pickup or delivery of mail.
"The postal service announced that they were studying 252 facilities across the country for possible consolidation and/or closing. The Cartersville facility is one of those facilities on that list, so that's what we're looking at, possibly consolidating those operations into another facility," said USPS Atlanta District Communications Manager Michael Miles. "We're not talking about the retail operations. We're not talking about the operation where customers go to buy their stamps, we're talking about what is essentially a behind the scenes operation that I would dare hazard to guess many residents don't even know is there."
As has been well documented in national headlines, the USPS has seen continued declines in revenue and ever-mounting losses due to weakening mail volumes. Proposed consolidations are part of a system-wide restructuring. A press release issued Thursday outlined the organization's first quarter performance.
"The U.S. Postal Service ended the first three months of its 2012 fiscal year (Oct. 1 - Dec. 31, 2011) with a net loss of $3.3 billion. Management expects large losses to continue until the Postal Service has implemented its network re-design and down-sizing and has restructured its healthcare program," stated the release. "First-Class Mail revenue has declined nearly 15 percent and volume has declined 25 percent since volume peaked in 2006. While some of the decline is attributable to economic weakness since 2007, the more significant factor is the continuing transition to electronic alternatives."
The migration of former letter writers and a younger generation to email, social media, voice and text communications has had an irrevocable impact on the current postal service structure. A plan for reshaping the postal service calls for organizational restructuring and legislative action enabling management to react quicker to market changes and have greater flexibility in employee health care. These proposed changes would cut costs by $20 billion by 2015.
In that restructuring is the proposal to consolidate Cartersville's processing center into that of the Atlanta processing operation. Due to the weakened demand, space limitations at the Atlanta processing center that once necessitated peripheral facilities are no longer relevant allowing for the proposed consolidation.
"It's reverting what we've done in the past. It will virtually have no impact on customers and the citizens. I want to make clear, it's mail processing operation, it's not the post office. So, it should be something that's fairly transparent to our customers," Miles said. "We started some of these satellite facilities some time ago to sort of spread out the mail processing and take it out of the centralized location and now essentially what we're looking at is bringing them back into the centralized locations which we have more capacity to do now because mail volume simply isn't as high as it once was. We pretty much outgrew our other facilities and so we started expanding and setting up satellite locations such as Cartersville."
The legal ad shed little light on the impact of this proposal on employment, stating only vaguely that any personnel action would be made in accordance with respective collective bargaining agreements and applicable postal policies. Miles added that no jobs are expected to be lost. Those positions are at this time expected to either move with the mail or be transitioned into another facility. The postal service also anticipates a number of retirements within the organization before the consolidation would occur, which is not to be before May. The Cartersville mail processing operation currently employs 23 people.
Local customer considerations contained within the legal ad:
* There are no retail services available that would be affected.
* Mailers who presort mail and enter it at other facilities will continue to receive appropriate postage discounts.
* Local collection box pick-up times will not change as a result of this consolidation.
* Local postmarks for First-Class Mail are not impacted by this consolidation.
* The time of the day in which mail is delivered to or collected from residences and businesses will not change as a result of the consolidation.
* The proposed consolidation is being evaluated in conjunction with the proposed changes to service standards that are currently being considered.
* There are no price changes associated with the proposed service standard and operational changes.
Written comments must be received by Saturday, Feb. 18, and may be sent to:
Network Rationalization Feedback
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 7631
Washington, D.C. 20260-7101