USPS not moving Fayetteville mail; Harrison to move

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 232 views 

The U.S. Postal Service has decided against moving mail processing operations from Fayetteville to Little Rock, but will move processing operations from Harrison to Fayetteville.

Also, plans remain to move Fort Smith mail processing operations to Fayetteville, but the USPS has agreed to a Congressional request to delay any moves until May 15.

The mail processing center in Hot Springs will be closed, with processing to move to Little Rock. The Jonesboro mail processing operation will be moved to Memphis. (Link here for a PDF of the USPS facilities list.)

In all, 264 processing facilities were studied by USPS officials for consolidation. Thursday’s statement noted that of the 264, 6 are on hold for further internal study, 35 will remain open, and 223 were approved for consolidation. The plan is expected to achieve a $20 billion cost reduction by 2015.

“When completed, the new Postal Service network of mail processing facilities will be sustainable well into the future,” the USPS noted in a “Fact Sheet” about the plans.

The USPS says consolidation timelines are also dependent on service standards and labor contracts.

“Implementation of this consolidation is contingent upon the outcome of pending rulemaking for a proposal to revise existing service standards,” noted Thursday’s USPS statement. “This announcement is provided in advance so that appropriate planning and notification can be made in accordance with existing employee agreements.”

The USPS announced April 28, 2011, its decision to consolidate mail processing operations from Fort Smith to the Northwest Arkansas Processing & Distribution Center (P&DC) in Fayetteville. Consolidation is estimated to result in 35 lost jobs in the Fort Smith area, and the process is expected to be complete in October.

Specifics on moving the Fort Smith and Harrison operations are not set.

“Specific dates have not been set for the transition. Until a specific date has been announced, residential and business mailers will continue to be served through the current facilities,” the USPS noted.

Previously announced consolidation plans were put on hold beginning Sept. 15 when the USPS announced a national plan to study the consolidation or closure of up to 250 mail processing facilities and eliminate about 35,000 jobs. The proposal sought to move Fort Smith and Fayetteville mail processing operations to Little Rock — essentially moving all mail processing in Arkansas to Little Rock. The move would result in lengthier mail delivery times and the loss of more than 200 jobs in Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith.

USPS officials cite lower mail volume and higher operating costs as key reasons for the financial pressures pushing consolidation.

The USPS reported a fiscal year 2011 net income loss of $5.1 billion, with mail volume declining by 1.7%. According to the USPS, mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past 5 years, with first-class mail down 25% and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — down 36% in the same timeframe. The number of letters bearing postage stamps has declined by about 50% in the past 10 years.