Durbin Announced U.S. Postal Service Agreement to Delay Illinois Postal Facility Closures for Five Months

Moratorium would protect good-paying jobs while Congress works to enact comprehensive postal reform legislation

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the U.S. Postal Service has voluntarily agreed to put in place a five-month moratorium on closing postal facilities, which would give Congress more time to enact postal reform legislation.  During that period, the Postal Service will continue to study the impact of proposed closures on service and costs and to solicit community input.  The moratorium is scheduled to end on May 15, 2012.


“Over the last few months, I have heard concerns from local officials, residents and postal service employees about the original proposal from the Postal Service.  Illinois would pay a heavy price under that proposal which impacts dozens of rural post offices in our state and nine mail processing centers that employ roughly 1,800 Illinoisans.  There is no doubt that the Postal Service as we know it today has to adapt, but I think a better solution exists. 


“Today, the Postal Service has given Congress five months to act.  It’s now up to us to move forward with comprehensive legislation that does not jeopardize the best postal service in the world.  I will continue working with Senator Kirk and the rest of the Illinois delegation to protect good-paying jobs in our state.”


This announcement follows a meeting yesterday between several Senators and the U.S. Postmaster General Patrick 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.  On September 15, 2011, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to review its mail processing network in the hopes of reducing costs.  The Postal Service is currently considering the elimination of overnight delivery and studying the possibility of closing 3,700 mostly rural post offices and 252 mail processing facilities.


Of the nearly 250 facilities being studied for consolidation, nine are in Illinois, including five – Rockford, Springfield, Quincy, Carbondale and Centralia – that are being considered for consolidation with out-of-state facilities.  All nine facilities are owned by the Postal Service and employ a total of approximately 1,800 people. 


Rockford Processing and Distribution Facility

The USPS is currently studying the possibility of moving operations from the Rockford Processing and Distribution Facility to an out-of-state facility in Madison, Wisconsin.  This study is the second the Postal Service has conducted on the Rockford facility – which has continually been ranked as a leader in productivity and efficiency – this year.  In March 2011, Durbin, Kirk and Manzullo wrote to the Postmaster General, expressing their concern about the United States Postal Service’s plan to conduct a study examining the possibility of moving operations performed at the Rockford Processing and Distribution Facility to the Postal Service’s Carol Stream facility. 


Quincy Processing and Distribution Annex

 The USPS is currently studying the possibility of moving operations from Quincy, Illinois to an out-of-state facility in St. Louis, Missouri as part of the nationwide comprehensive review of the Service’s mail processing network.  This review of the Quincy facility runs contrary to an August 2009 letter from then-Postmaster General Jack Potter to Durbin announcing that a similar Area Mail Processing (AMP) study would have yielded no significant cost savings or efficiencies. 


In response, Durbin, in his role as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), inserted language in the committee’s annual appropriations bill that would help protect jobs at the Processing and Distribution Annex in Quincy, Illinois and ensure community involvement in the study regarding consolidation and closure of the facility.  The legislation was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.


In June 2009, Durbin, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) – the committee with financial jurisdiction over the USPS – sent a similar letter to the Postmaster General in regards to their plans to conduct an AMP study on the Processing and Distribution Annex in Quincy.  After Durbin directed the Postal Service not to pursue the study as part of the FY2010 appropriations process, the USPS announced the termination of the study. 


Springfield Processing and Distribution Facility 

On October 12, Durbin and Kirk joined Representatives Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Bobby Schilling (R-IL) in sending a letter to the Postmaster General expressing concern about the proposed consolidation of  mail processing operations performed at the Springfield Processing and Distribution Facility with those performed at the our-of-state St. Louis, Missouri facility.  The consolidation could lead to a loss of 234 jobs in Illinois’ capital city which is home to about 115,000 residents.