Congressman: Proposal puts future of Buffalo mail processing facility at risk
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, took to the House of Representatives Floor in opposition to plans by the U.S. postmaster general and board of governors to reduce service standards and consolidate mail-processing facilities nationwide.
"For nearly 240 years, the United States Postal Service has held the tradition of reliable and timely delivery to the American public, even in the toughest of conditions, thanks to one of the most dedicated workforces in the nation," Higgins said. "Plans by postal service leadership to reduce delivery standards erode the strong and respected foundation of the USPS, sending customers looking for more efficient alternatives and jeopardizing the long-term stability of this trusted agency in future years."
Below is the text of Higgins remarks on the House Floor:
"I rise today to stand with American postal workers in Buffalo, New York, and across the country, who today will rally to send a message: 'Stop delaying America's mail.'
"Since 2012, 141 mail-processing plants have closed. Eighty-two more, across 37 states, are scheduled to either close or be consolidated beginning in January. The erosion of service standards is not only bad for customers, U.S. businesses, and hardworking postal workers, but it represents a huge step backward in an increasingly competitive delivery industry.
"Today, the postal service board of governors holds their last public meeting of 2014. I urge them to reverse course and maintain service standards that uphold the trademark reputation of the U.S. Postal Service.
"I also urge the House to bring H.R. 630, the Postal Service Protection Act, to the floor for a vote. This legislation removes the pension prefund obligation, provides for the expansion of shipping operations and the lease of surplus facility space while maintaining Saturday delivery."
Nov. 14 marked the last meeting of the year for the USPS board of governors. Postal workers in Buffalo and across the nation rallied to send a message of opposition to the postmaster general and USPS leadership regarding consolidations and service changes.
"These cuts will frustrate customers, drive away business, lead to job losses, harm communities, and cause massive schedule changes and reassignments for employees," said the four postal unions in a written statement.
Buffalo's mail-processing facility on William Street was not on a list of 2015 closings released in June, but given the facility was previously on the USPS target list, Higgins said he is concerned about its future.
Service standard changes proposed by USPS leadership would allow for mail to be delivered at a slower pace rather than today's goal of next-day delivery. These changes would have to be in place before the USPS could move forward on any plans to close Buffalo's facility on William Street, because mail in the greater Buffalo region would be processed in Rochester.
Rather than cutting services, Higgins supports approval of H.R. 630, the Postal Service Protection Act, to address the financial challenges of the USPS. The bipartisan legislation has 185 sponsors in the House, and a similar bill has 31 sponsors in the Senate. This legislation would allow the postal service to remove its pension prefund obligation, expand shipping operations, and lease surplus facility space held by USPS that is currently not in use, while maintaining Saturday delivery.