Rolling back services and firing employees is not the way to restore
the firm financial footing that is needed at the U.S. Postal Service
(USPS). Unfortunately, that's exactly what the USPS did when it
announced recently that it plans to close its Hampden mail processing
facility in addition to hundreds of others throughout our country. I
believe targeting this Maine facility is a huge mistake for a number of
reasons and that it must be reversed.
First off, this decision could negatively impact about 170 workers.
They could lose their jobs or get transferred to another location that's
very far away. This uproots families and harms not only the lives of
the workers, but also those of their families and the communities they
And while it's a travesty for those directly connected to a closure, they are not the only ones that could feel the impact.
If the facility in Hampden ends up shutting its doors, many of
Maine's families and businesses will notice that their mail takes longer
to get to where they sent it. This will hurt the confidence that many
have in the Postal Service and could lead many, especially businesses,
to look at other delivery options. As a result, the closure of the
Hampden facility could ultimately have the exact opposite impact that
the Postal Service has in mind. Instead of saving money by shutting down
facilities and firing workers, these moves by the USPS could turn out
to be money losers down the line.
As if these reasons weren't bad enough, the underlying justification
for closing postal facilities is based on incomplete data. I joined my
colleagues in writing to the Postmaster General earlier this year
pointing out that a review of the basis for the possible closure of more
than 3,600 post offices and other facilities found serious flaws.
For example, the review found that the USPS had incomplete data for
all post offices, branches and stations, which makes it impossible to
accurately calculate cost savings from proposed closures. On top of
that, the criteria used in the USPS's consolidation plans
disproportionately targets rural post offices. This would not only hurt
our largely rural state, but it also runs counter to the law - the USPS
is required to provide effective and regular postal service to rural
communities. This calls into question the very core of the USPS's
current consolidations plans.
What is really needed is a moratorium on closures until the USPS
adequately addresses these flaws. But Congress can and should act too.
The USPS action to shut down facilities will only solve a minor
percentage of their funding problem. One of the biggest debt drivers for
the USPS is the unique mandate it has to prefund retiree health
benefits. If the overpayments from this mandate were given back to the
USPS, it's likely that far fewer postal facilities would be targeted for
closure or consolidation. There is a bill I support that would
accomplish this, but congressional leaders have not taken it up. This
inaction is even more disappointing given the fact that over half of the
House of Representatives are cosponsors of the bill as well.
In addition to this bill, I am also pushing legislation that supports
preserving 6-day delivery and protects rural communities from being
disproportionately impacted by future closures. These are all measures
that deserve a vote in the House and Senate, and I'm hopeful the
pressure builds on congressional leaders to take action.
I'll continue to work with our congressional delegation in Washington
to do whatever we can to prevent this closure and others like it from
becoming a reality. Closing this facility would be a major step in the
wrong direction for much of Maine as well as the future of the USPS.
There is no doubt that the solvency of our Postal Service must be
addressed, but its current plan isn't the responsible way to accomplish
Representative Mike Michaud