(August 15, 2014) Allegations of intentional delays at the Cape Girardeau mail processing facility prompted a letter from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt on Thursday to postmaster general Patrick Donahoe.
“Missourians are rightly concerned about possibly delayed or misdirected mail, and I write to express my concern about the reports and request future updates on the Office of Inspector General’s investigation into these allegations,” Blunt wrote.
Stacy St. John, corporate communications specialist for the U.S. Postal Service in Iowa City, Iowa, said in an email there is no evidence to support the allegations.
“In fact, the most recent independently collected results for overnight first-class mail service reveal scores higher than 97 percent [quarter to date] for our Cape Girardeau customers,” St. John wrote, explaining the most recent quarter was July 1 through Aug. 13. “The postal service has the utmost confidence in its employees, who pride themselves on providing excellent service to our Cape Girardeau customers.”
Meanwhile, St. John said Cape Girardeau’s Richard G. Wilson Processing and Distribution Facility on Kell Farm Drive will be included in the next round of U.S. Postal Service cost-cutting measures.
St. John said what is being called a network rationalization initiative will begin in January, but no exact date has been set for the
“This is not something new. We’ve done 141 across the nation [since 2011],” St. John said, adding the postal service will save $750 million nationally by consolidating services.
During the past fiscal year, the USPS posted a $2.2 billion loss despite positive gains in package revenue, she said. Asked if part of the problem is prepaid retirement for postal workers, St. John said, even with its “suite of robust and creative initiatives for growing revenue, and its relentless approach to taking costs out of the system, [it] continues to be stymied by the effects of Congressional inaction” on helping the USPS regain its financial footing.
In an effort to boost revenue, the postal system increased stamp prices from 46 cents to 49 cents in January, its largest jump in more than a decade. The USPS also faces competition from the Internet and other delivery services. Halting Saturday delivery, a long-standing idea estimated to save $2 billion annually, would require Congressional action.
St. John noted that current law requires the postal service to prefund retiree health benefits at “unrealistic levels”; prohibits the postal service from moving to five-day mail delivery; forces it to overpay into the Federal Employees Retirement System; and limits its ability to offer new products and services.
“These are just a few examples among many,” St. John said. “This lack of flexibility in our business model continues to hinder efforts to close a widening budget gap. The postal service must generate roughly $20 billion in cost reductions and revenue generation by 2017 to return to financial stability and pay down debt. But our efforts will only go so far.”
She said affected postal employees will have a chance to be reassigned. The post office hasn’t laid anyone off during the cost-cutting initiative, and employees will be given notice of positions elsewhere.
“The postal service is very considerate,” St. John said. “I just want people to understand that we work very hard, and [human resources] works very hard, to reassign our employees without sending them across the nation. That’s not our intent at all. With a network of over 500,000 employees and positions, we are able to reassign our employees to other vacant positions.”
Greg Davidson, president of American Postal Workers Local Union 4088, said workers know the local facility is set for consolidation early next year, but are “totally in the dark” about any details.
Asked if employees are being kept informed of what’s going on with the consolidation plans, St. John wrote that employees at Cape Girardeau have had ongoing communication with management since the original announcement in 2011.
Because of the processing facility’s uncertain future, Davidson said, some workers have taken early retirement and others have moved across the country for other jobs.
“It’s been a very huge burden on all the workers,” Davidson said.
St. John said the pending move doesn’t affect mail carriers or retail window hours. Communities served from the Cape Girardeau plant all will be served by the St. Louis processing facility, St. John wrote.
“Basically, the customers will drop off their mail where they always have. … Transportation will take that mail to St. Louis, rather than it being processed here. It will be processed and delivered from St. Louis,” she said.
Nationwide, turnaround is going to be “very minimally affected,” St. John added. If it took 2.4 days to get a letter from Colorado to Florida before, it may now take 2.6 days. With local mail, there will be no effect. There will still be next-day delivery, she said.