[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to keep Illinois post offices and mail processing facilities open in order to give the House of Representatives additional time to act on the comprehensive bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate to reform the postal service.  Durbin cited the important role these facilities play in the Postal Service’s operations and Illinois' economy. 

 

“In spite of Senate action, it is my understanding that you intend to implement your consolidation plan when the moratorium expires,” wrote Durbin.  “If you choose to proceed, it is imperative that you consider the critical role Illinois plays in the Postal Service’s operations, in the private mailing industry, and in interstate commerce.  As the transportation hub of America, Illinois is a transit point for goods travelling across the U.S. and around the world.  If the Postal Service disassembles its Illinois infrastructure, I fear that the reduction in business for the postal service will more than overcome the projected operational savings.

 

On April 25, 2012, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to reform the Postal Service by a vote of 62 to 37.  The legislation – the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 (S.1789) – will help the Postal Service reduce long-term costs, increase efficiency and grow into a 21st century service provider.  Durbin also offered an amendment – that was accepted into the bill – which protects facilities the Postal Service recently concluded to be efficient by requiring a new audit before the Postal Service can move forward with plans to close or consolidate that facility.

 

On December 13, 2011, Durbin joined with 14 other Senators to announce that at their request, the Postal Service voluntarily agreed to put in place a five-month moratorium on closing postal facilities.  Their announcement followed a meeting between several Senators, Postmaster General Donahoe and the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Thurgood Marshall, Jr., in which Senators expressed concern over the impact of reduced service and the loss of thousands of jobs.  During the moratorium, scheduled to end on May 15, 2012, the Postal Service will continue to study the impact of proposed closures on service and costs and to solicit community input. 

 

On September 15, 2011, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to review its mail processing network in the hopes of reducing costs.  When the moratorium expires, the Postal Service is planning to move forward with the elimination of overnight delivery and the closure of as many as 3,700 mostly rural post offices and over 200 mail processing facilities, including at least 8 in Illinois, five of which – Springfield, Quincy, Carbondale, Centralia and Rockford – are being considered for consolidation with out-of-state facilities.  All of the Illinois facilities are owned by the Postal Service and employ a total of approximately 1,600 people. 

 

[Text of the letter is below]

May 08, 2011

 

The Honorable Patrick Donahoe

Postmaster General

United States Postal Service

475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW

Washington, DC 20260-0010

 

Dear Postmaster General Donahoe:

 

I write to you in light of the impending expiration of the Postal Service’s moratorium on closures, agreed to in my office last December, and the negative impact of your consolidation plan on the Illinois economy and Illinois jobs.

 

As you know, I have worked with you and your predecessor, Postmaster General Potter, to share my concern with plans to close Illinois facilities.  These concerns led me to hold a number of meetings with you regarding your specific plan for Illinois facilities, including our meeting on December 12, 2011, in which you agreed to a moratorium on facility closures until May 15, 2012 to give Congress time to enact legislation to reform the Postal Service.

 

On April 25, 2012, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to reform the Postal Service, which included my amendment to protect efficient processing facilities from ill-considered consolidation decisions.  That legislation relieves the Postal Service’s financial stress and spurs needed innovation.  Now, the House of Representatives must act.  In spite of Senate action, it is my understanding that you intend to implement your consolidation plan when the moratorium expires.

 

If you choose to proceed, it is imperative that you consider the critical role Illinois plays in the Postal Service’s operations, in the private mailing industry, and in interstate commerce.  As the transportation hub of America, Illinois is a transit point for goods travelling across the U.S. and around the world.  If the Postal Service disassembles its Illinois infrastructure, I fear that the reduction in business to the Postal Service will more than overcome the projected operational savings.

 

Thank you for your serious consideration of these concerns, and I ask that you keep me informed of any and all operational changes undertaken in the state of Illinois should the moratorium expire.

 

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin

United States Senator

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