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Shining a Light on S&DCs
By Chuck Mulidore
NAPS Executive Vice President
The Postal Service recently announced its plan to spend almost $10 billion for 66,000 electric vehicles (EVs) and related infrastructure. This is, of course, good news. However, the Postmaster General’s linkage of buying more EVs to his plan to relocate letter carriers from post offices to large Sorting & Delivery Centers (S&DCs) may be disingenuous.
The PMG has stated the Postal Service is restructuring its mail processing and delivery network to minimize unnecessary transportation. It will concentrate letter carriers at centralized locations rather than using current post offices that take advantage of existing infrastructure. NAPS’ concern is twofold.
First, what will happen to the supervisors, managers and postmasters in the existing facilities whose carriers will be moved to a new facility? The Postal Service has not been transparent with NAPS leadership on this issue beyond vague pledges of no immediate impacts.
Second, the American public has not been told of these changes that will impact post offices in their communities in defiance of public law. Why? As further reported by Steve Hutkins in the “Save the Post Office” blog, there are other problems:
“First, the plan to restructure the delivery network actually adds hundreds of millions of miles to carrier routes. DeJoy has repeatedly said his plan will simplify the network and reduce transportation costs, but he’s provided no evidence for this and there’s plenty of data showing the opposite."
“An internal USPS presentation from July 29, 2022, shows that the plan adds about 12 or 13 miles to each route, one-way, which, for the 100,000 routes that will be relocated from existing post offices, adds up to something like 700 million more miles annually. The Postal Service has yet to explain how the plan will ‘minimize unnecessary transportation’ or how, even with all these additional miles, it will reduce costs overall.”
According to the USPS presentation, in the Atlanta metro area, seven or eight S&DCs—three in existing facilities, the others in new ones—will absorb over 2,300 routes from about 80 post offices. The routes are nearly all urban and suburban. In any case, once the carriers are gone, a post office—big or small—becomes much more vulnerable to having its retail hours cut, getting relocated to a smaller space or being closed completely.
DeJoy is not restructuring the delivery network in order to fit facilities for EVs. Any post office can be fitted for EVs. You don’t need to centralize the network in order to make that happen. The plan to consolidate routes was developed long before any thought was given to buying tens of thousands of electric vehicles.
The “Delivering for America” plan released in March 2021 already was talking about “improving our delivery unit footprint, optimizing delivery units and streamlining carrier functions.” At that point, the Postal Service was committed to electrifying only 10% of the new fleet.
It wasn’t until June 2022 that the Postal Service began saying it could buy more EVs thanks to “delivery network and related route refinements,” even though by then it had been developing the S&DC plan for over a year. A July 2022 article in the agency’s The Eagle Magazine rolling out the new delivery network doesn’t even mention electric vehicles
It’s not simply that the network reconfiguration makes it possible to buy more EVs. Now we’re told that purchasing more EVs only will be possible if the delivery network is modernized:
“What is less widely understood is that our network modernization initiative is necessary to enable this vehicle electrification and will also provide meaningful cost and carbon reductions in other ways.”
In other words, DeJoy can’t buy all these EVs unless he can go forward with his S&DC plan. Thus, DeJoy is using the very popular plan to buy electric vehicles to justify his very unpopular delivery centralization plan.
NAPS will not allow this process to go unchallenged. We have pressed, and will continue to press, members of Congress representing those affected communities to ask questions and seek answers the Postal Service has been unwilling to share with NAPS or the American people. Why? Because we fight for transparency, we fight for our members and we care that the American people are given the necessary information about their community’s post offices.
We must shine a light into the dark recesses of this S&DC process. This is who we are—NAPS strong—now and in the future.