By Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director

Dennis Hetzel

Hetzel

The U.S. Postal Service announced that it plans to close or consolidate 80 mail processing facilities after Jan. 1 and lower service standards for periodicals and first-class.

The Ohio facilities on the chopping block are Akron, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown with operations in Cleveland, Columbus and the Detroit area gaining volume.  A complete list of facilities is available by clicking here.

Regarding service standards, the 2-4 day delivery standard for periodicals would move to 3-4 days in many situations. That clearly is unacceptable. By my math and based upon what we know already is happening, weekend advertising to mail subscribers in newspapers published on Wednesdays and later in the week could become functionally useless in many cases. (Click here for more detail.)

If you believe these changes will have a potentially damaging impact on your operation, it would be helpful for us to know. Send a brief summary that details your concerns to me at dhetzel@ohionews.org or call 614-486-6677.

ONA continues to join with the National Newspaper Association and others in resisting these USPS moves. However, nothing is more impactful than direct correspondence from local publishers to local members of Congress.  While the USPS can make these moves without Congressional approval, Congress does have the ability to stop or slow things down.

If you communicate with a member of Congress, please cc me, dhetzel@ohionews.org, so we’re aware of your activity.

Here is a news release from the NNA that provides more detail on the USPS announcement and the NNA’s response:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tonda Rush, 703 237 9801 

Closing 80+ Mail Processing Plants and Degrading Periodicals/First-Class Mail Service: a Recipe for More Lost Business for USPS

National Newspaper Association President Robert M. Williams Jr., publisher of the Blackshear (GA) Times, strongly objected this week to the US Postal Service’s announcement that it would close or consolidate more than 80 mail processing facilities after January and lower service standards for Periodicals and First-Class mail.

In a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, Williams said:

“We deeply regret our long-time partnership with the Postal Service is about to be further stressed by another degradation of service.  NNA does not understand how rising prices, slower service and further concentration of services into urban areas helps our nationwide mail service to survive Internet competition or any other threat.”

The Postal Service announced on June 30 that it is now targeting a broad list of mail processing plants for its second round of “network consolidation.” Though USPS is showing operating profits this year after several years of red ink, Donahoe cited a $40 billion debt on the USPS balance sheet as a reason. Most of the Postal Service debt is to the US Treasury, which it owes for the accelerated prepayment of postal retiree health costs imposed by Congress in a 2006 postal law.

Many mailing organizations, labor unions and concerned postal users have lobbied Congress vigorously for the past eight years to relax the punitive requirements, which have been set up for no other federal agency. Williams emphasized again in his letter to Donahoe that NNA has set its Congressional Action Team in motion repeatedly to support legislative efforts to relieve financial pressure on USPS.

“We want postal reform legislation this year,” Williams said. “We have looked for several years now for legislation that balances the needs of USPS, of the postal workforce and of mailers, particularly those in rural areas hard hit by the previous round of postal plant closings. We recognize that the Postal Service is a powerful federal agency that influences our advertising marketplaces and therefore must be fairly regulated. But we object to Congress’s having tried repeatedly to use the postage-selling abilities of USPS as a cash cow. We are very hopeful that we will see legislation this year that strikes the right balance and that we can vigorously support it before these plant closings kick in. NNA firmly believes that mail service to rural and small town America is critical to local economies. We will not stand by quietly when it is put at risk.”

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