ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) - More bad news for the U.S. Postal Service as it continues to search for solid financial footing.
The USPS has announced plans to eliminate 120,000 jobs during the next four years – a 20 percent cut in the workforce. USPS spokesman David Partenheimer says many of these jobs will come through attrition – the normal departure of employees through retirement or other pathways.
“We can’t continue to operate at our current size – we need to be a smaller postal service that will continue to deliver for the American public,” he says.
Partenheimer says they have done what they can to cut costs, but it’s simply not enough to support the service, which lost.
“We can’t keep kicking the can down the road,” he says. “these are actions that we need to take with the decline in first-class mail, congressional mandates and the general effects of the economy.”
He says other factors include the switch to digital communication rather than mail.
The Postal Service has “no layoff” clauses in union contracts, which Partenheimer says necessitates congressional approval before the USPS can move forward.
The announcement of these plans comes after a summer of questions regarding how the USPS will operate in the future as it announced a nationwide review of 3,700 post offices. The USPS faces a second year of $8 billion losses.
Partenheimer says the USPS wants to adopt a sustainable business model by changing employee benefits to their own program rather than the federal program. He says the USPS needs to act more like a private sector company by choosing its own companies to handle health and retirement benefits, and he says the options this would provide will save money for the company and USPS employees.
Partenheimer says there is no decision yet on exactly when or where the cuts will take place.
“These are not numbers that are going to happen overnight and the effects will be different in different parts of the country,” he says.
Valerie Welsch, local spokesperson for the Gateway District of the USPS, says the post office closures in the region have mostly taken place in rural areas at offices with very few employees – sometimes just two or three. She says they’ve managed to close these office but transfer employees, as they are consolidating offices into St. Louis. She says the district has been preparing for cuts over several years, keeping some positions unfilled, which gives the flexibility to close positions without laying off workers.
However, it’s still unclear how this might affect the area, and whether there will be enough unfilled positions.
Copyright KMOX Radio.