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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) wrote Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe today to demand an explanation for the U.S. Postal Service’s proposal to close the processing facilities in Lowell, Shrewsbury, Waltham, and Wareham. In the letter, Senator Brown acknowledges the serious financial problems facing the Postal Service, but requests explanations about the methodology of choosing the Massachusetts plants, and the plan to eliminate them as opposed to reducing operations.
Senator Brown also underscored the economic impact of the plant closures, writing, “…these changes will have an enormous impact not only on hundreds of postal employees and dozens of surrounding communities, but the entire state as well. Moving forward with this plan could lead to a considerable loss of jobs and cause service delays impacting small businesses and other mail customers across the Commonwealth.”
Yesterday’s announcement from the Postal Service follows their December 2011 proposal to close the processing facility in Springfield.
Senator Brown coauthored the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789), which is a bipartisan proposal to save the Postal Service from bankruptcy. He serves as ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, which has the Postal Service within its oversight jurisdiction.
The letter is as follows:
February 24, 2012
The Honorable Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General of the United States
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20260-2202
Dear Postmaster General Donahoe,
I am well aware that some significant changes may be required in the next few years to put the Postal Service on a viable fiscal path. There is no doubt that some consolidation of operations, including reductions in processing capacity, will be required to reduce operating expenses over the long term. It is expected that all states will feel some impact by these changes and that includes Massachusetts as well.
I am disappointed and concerned, however, with the Postal Service’s recent approval of plans to eliminate all processing operations at four facilities in Massachusetts. Along with significant reductions at a fifth plant and prior plans to cut operations at the Springfield facility, these changes will have an enormous impact not only on hundreds of postal employees and dozens of surrounding communities, but the entire state as well. Moving forward with this plan could lead to a considerable loss of jobs and cause service delays impacting small businesses and other mail customers across the Commonwealth. As a result of this decision, I am afraid that larger considerations state-wide have not been adequately taken into account.
For instance, a significant percentage of operations are proposed to move out of state to Connecticut and Rhode Island. Was due consideration given to finding a way to keep these important jobs within Massachusetts? Additionally, if these changes are made as proposed, service could be significantly impacted in the central and western parts of the state. Were alternatives appropriately considered to reduce operations in Springfield and Shrewsbury rather than to simply eliminate them altogether? The Postal Service can ill-afford to push more customers away from the mail service because of poor planning and rash decisions.
My main concern throughout this entire process has been ensuring that it was fair, consistent, and transparent to all stakeholders involved, especially to local employees and businesses. As input from public meetings and important feedback from my constituents has shown, however, it is clear that the Postal Service has fallen far short of their responsibilities in this regard.
With nine facilities under review at some point in this process, the plan for Massachusetts has never been adequately explained up front to government officials, local postal workers, or the public. Now that the studies have been completed, I expect that the Postal Service will provide its methodology and justification for its proposed plans in Massachusetts without delay. The review process thus far has been extremely unfair to the hard working employees at these plants, who have been in limbo for far too long as to how their jobs might be impacted. Local postal customers have been similarly affected, having had no way to predict how potential changes might impact their access to or use of postal services in the future. All of these important stakeholders deserve to know how and why decisions are being made. With a moratorium on closures in place until mid-May and postal legislation still pending in Congress, there is still time to review the proposed changes and make adjustments if necessary.
I fully realize that in order to align operations with future mail volume difficult decisions must be made. While I appreciate your efforts to tackle the challenging tasks required to right size postal operations for the future, the Postal Service must ensure that it proceeds in the most responsible manner. Unfortunately, I am not convinced that is happening and postal customers and employees in Massachusetts deserve better. I look forward to assisting you in any way that can better address these concerns in the near future.
SCOTT P. BROWN
United States Senator