By CHAD ABSHIRE
Two West Virginia Congressman issued statements yesterday, regarding the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement that 3,700 rural post offices across the country and 150 in the state planned for closure will remain open.
“For months now, I have been fighting to keep our rural post offices open so that the people of our state can stay connected to this great country,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said. “I pushed very hard in the Senate to keep all our post offices open, because they truly are a lifeline and they provide vital services to so many West Virginians. With 150 post offices slated for closure in our state alone, the effect would have been devastating to thousands of West Virginians.”
Before yesterday’s announcement, the USPS had imposed a voluntary moratorium on post office closures until May 15. The announcement keeps open the 3,700 post offices that could have been closed next week.
“Hallelujah! Today’s newest Postal Service plan appears to be welcome news for southern West Virginia families and businesses who joined me in the hard fight over these months to save our post offices,” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said. “However, cutting back the hours for so many post offices is no small matter, and we need to examine the details of the plan and get a better understanding of its potential impact on mail delivery services and communities.”
Closing 3,700 post offices that would have saved approximately $200 million. Instead of closing that number of post offices, USPS now plans to reduce the hours of operation at 13,000 rural post offices from a full eight-hour day to between two and six open hours per day, which will save about $500 million per year.
“I spoke with the Postmaster General last night, and I’m encouraged that he changed course and took a new approach to save money in his agency. However, this compromise isn’t perfect,” Manchin said. “I expect that if the Postal Service is going to make any changes to the services they are providing to constituents, they will also explore alternative cost-saving measures like reducing executive compensation, getting rid of unused space and ending advertising sponsorships. I will be watching very closely to ensure that our rural communities do not bear the brunt of changes being made at the Postal Service.”
The USPS also announced a voluntary early retirement incentive plan for the more than 21,000 of its employed postmasters.
“We ought not be shy about letting Postal officials know our views and getting our questions answered,” Rahall said. “From what I have seen so far, I take great comfort in knowing that the people of southern West Virginia are still a force to be reckoned with.”