August 20, 2015
The Postal Service is working on phase two of POStPlan, its initiative to reduce hours and staffing at half the country’s post offices. From September 2012 through February 2015, the Postal Service implemented phase one — 13,000 small post offices had their hours reduced from eight a day to six, four, or even just two, and thousands of career postmasters lost their positions.
Now the Postal Service is reviewing 5,000 more post offices for a downgrade and reduced hours. These are the offices that were upgraded to Level 18 in 2012. A list of the original 4,600 Level 18s, along with a map, is here.
There have been rumors lately that many Level 18 offices could be downgraded and their postmasters might find themselves out of a job. These rumors seem to be confirmed by an August 12th filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission.
In the filing, the Postal Service tells the PRC that it wants to change the accounting methodology used for small post offices when preparing cost and revenue reports. As the Postal Service observes, the changes caused by POStPlan and the ruling on the APWU arbitration last year have complicated the costing analysis, and the proposed changes would simplify things. In the course of presenting the rationale for these accounting changes, the Postal Service says this:
“Over 5,000 other post offices have been designated as Level 18 and are having their work hours reviewed to determine whether they should have their hours reduced as well, just like the 13,000 post offices in the original POStPlan.”
The Postal Service had previously indicated that it would eventually review Level 18 post offices, and many POStPlan postmasters were worried about transferring to a Level 18 for precisely this reason. It now appears that they may have been right to worry.