The U.S. Postal Service is shutting down 48 mail-processing centers this summer, including three in Indiana, as it waits on Congress to shore up its finances.
Mary Dando, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service in Indianapolis, said the agencys Columbus operation closed last week, the Bloomington processing and distribution center will halt work this week and a Terre Haute center is being phased out. In each case, mail sorting is being moved to Indianapolis facilities.
In all, nine Indiana hubs and 220 others across the nation are set to close before spring 2014 as the Postal Service tries to stem its financial losses, forecast to top $14 billion this year.
The bottom line is we dont have the mail volume. First-class mail was our bread and butter, Dando said. There is nothing to justify the size and capacity of our current mail-processing network.
A plan to close the South Bend mail-processing center and shift its work to the Fort Wayne processing and distribution hub on South Clinton Street has been delayed until early 2014. That move would extend mail processing in Fort Wayne from 12 hours a day to 20, while adding at least 20 workers.
Unless the circumstances of the Postal Service change, we still have a little bit of time, Dando said about future consolidations, which will shut 90 mail-processing facilities in January and February and 89 in 2014.
About 28,000 jobs will be eliminated in the realignment.
The Postal Service had stalled closings until after May 15 in anticipation of legislation giving the self-funded agency access to billions of dollars in surplus retirement funds and prefunded health care benefits mandated by Congress.
The Democratic Senate approved a fiscal relief bill in late April that received a lukewarm response from the Postal Service and its employee unions. The Republican House has yet to consider its version of the legislation, and each chamber will be in recess for five weeks starting Aug. 4.
We still have our fingers crossed, Dando said about possible congressional action.
No processing centers will be closed this fall because of a projected increase in mail volume attributed to election materials and holiday gifts and cards, Dando said.