(July 3, 2014) GAINESVILLE – The U.S. Postal Service will transfer the remaining processing and distribution functions now handled at the 34th Street post office to Jacksonville next year as part of plans to close 82 processing facilities.
The retail portion of the 34th Street site will remain open, according to spokeswoman Dionne Montague.
Outgoing mail processing operations already have been transferred to Jacksonville as part of the consolidation plans involving 141 facilities in 2012 and 2013. Additional consolidations were delayed, with the postal service only saying it wanted to ensure efficient operations of its network before proceeding.
The postal service announced this week that phase 2 of its consolidation plans to close up to 82 facilities would resume in January 2015 and would be completed by fall.
That includes incoming mail now handled at the 34th Street post office. In Florida, facilities in Sarasota and near Sanford will also close.
Montague did not respond to a question about how many jobs would be affected by the move. A local postal union representative and the Gainesville postmaster did not return calls for comment.
In 2012, a local union rep said that transferring outgoing processing would affect 20 to 25 employees and that all processing operations employed about 230 people here.
The postal service announcement said that with past consolidations it was able to avoid layoffs and place affected workers in other available positions, and will make every effort to do the same. Next year’s closures are expected to affect about 15,000 employees.
The postal service said it is consolidating the processing facilities to reduce costs after losing $26 billion over the past three years as a result of less first-class mail volume, higher wage and benefit costs, increased operating costs, legislative mandates and debt pressures.
The first round of consolidations saves the postal service $865 million a year and phase 2 is expected to save an additional $750 million.
With less localized processing operations, the postal service estimates that first-class mail delivery will increase from an average of 2.14 days to 2.25 days, with 20 percent expected to be delivered overnight, more than 35 percent delivered in two days and about 44 percent delivered in three days.