The U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday that 4 mail processing centers in Oklahoma, including the Woodward center, will be impacted by money-saving consolidations.
Dionne Montague, public relations and communications for the Southwest Area, said the Woodward processing and distribution unit "was already moved at the end of September or beginning of October" last year.
Thursday's announcement only makes the closure of the Woodward facility permanent.
The other 3 centers to be consolidated in Oklahoma are in Tulsa, McAlester and Poteau.
The centers in Poteau and Woodward will be fully consolidated, with all of their processing services moving to Oklahoma City. However, the Tulsa and McAlester centers are only undergoing partial consolidations, with some of their processing services moving to Oklahoma City.
"Oklahoma City is the main processing center in the state," Montague said. "It's the largest center in Oklahoma and probably in the country. It has the capacity to process quite a bit of mail."
A processing facility is where mail is collected and sorted by machines automatically, postal officials said. The mail is then grouped based on zip code and then placed into containers and put on trucks according to zip code to be distributed to the post offices and mail carriers for delivery.
Nationwide there were 264 processing facilities that were studied for consolidation and 223 of those will be consolidated either fully or partially. There are still 6 on hold for further internal study and the remaining 35 will currently remain open.
These consolidations will result in a projected loss of 35,000 jobs nationwide, the postal service stated.
Locally there were only about 4 to 5 employees affected by the consolidation/closure, Montague said.
However, she said that a processing center closure doesn't necessarily mean everyone will lose their job.
"The postal service has a proven track record of working effectively with the union and placing employees," she said.
They are following guidelines and will be offering other positions within the postal service for employees, she said.
The closure/consolidation of the 223 processing facilities represents cutting over half the USPS's total number of 461 processing plants.
The postal service said that through this plant reduction along with adjusting service standards, it will save more than $2 billion a year.
"The overall goal for all of the changes that we're making is to cut costs by $20 billion by 2015," Montague said. "Consolidation is part of that plan."
Other ways the postal service is looking to reduce costs is to change standards for first-class mail, by eliminating a next-day delivery standard. Instead of first class mail being delivered within a 1- to 3-day period it will be delivered in a 2- to 3-day period.
According to a press release on the processing center consolidation decision, the U. S. Postal Service posted that it "is in the midst of a financial crisis due to the combined effects of the economic recession increased use of electronic communications, and an obligation to prefund retiree health benefits."
The postal service has pointed specifically to a deterioration of First-Class Mail volume that has led "to significant revenue declines."
The postal service stated the processing center consolidations and other cost-cutting measures are taken in an effort to "return the organization to profitability."
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