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Postmasters fight back on USPS effort to close offices

May. 23, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
The Postal Service is proposing to overhaul the rules regulating how post offices are shut down, but two postmaster groups argued in a complaint lodged with the Postal Regulatory Commission on Monday that rule changes would strip communities of their right to challenge post office closings and undermine Congress' intention that every post office have a postmaster.
The Postal Service is proposing to overhaul the rules regulating how post offices are shut down, but two postmaster groups argued in a complaint lodged with the Postal Regulatory Commission on Monday that rule changes would strip communities of their right to challenge post office closings and undermine Congress' intention that every post office have a postmaster. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Postmasters are accusing the U.S. Postal Service of trying to sidestep the law by making it easier to close post offices.

The Postal Service is proposing to overhaul the rules regulating how post offices are shut down. Those proposed rule changes would strip communities of their right to challenge post office closings and undermine Congress' intention that every post office have a postmaster, two postmaster groups argued in a complaint lodged with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on Monday.

The National League of Postmasters and the National Association of Postmasters of the United States argue the proposed changes amount to a nationwide change in mail service that requires input from the regulatory commission, a five-member oversight body.

"Regulatory efforts by the Postal Service to make it ‘easier' to discontinue post offices and sidestep its statutory responsibility should not be taken lightly," the complaint said. In the meantime, the two groups are also asking the PRC to block the Postal Service from making the rules final.

The commission now has 90 days to accept or dismiss the complaint, a spokesman said.

The Postal Service currently has almost 32,000 post offices, 80 percent of which lose money, according to the agency. The proposed rule changes aim to cut the time needed to review possible closings from 21 months to fewer than five months. Public comment on those proposed rule changes ended this month, and final rules could be announced this summer, USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan said last week.

"We believe the proposed rules are in the best interest of the Postal Service," she said Monday in an email.

But after declaring in March that he wanted to close 2,000 post offices by next March, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told a congressional panel last week that he is now looking to shutter only half that number.

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