Between St. Petersburg’s identity being laid aside in the name of convenience and efficiency and the threat of more local job losses, St. Petersburg is expressing concern with new developments declared by the United States Postal Service.
I spoke with Fred Piccolo, chief of staff for Congressman Dennis Ross, who said that we should not expect any developments that would reverse the decision to either shut down the USPS distribution office in St. Petersburg or that mail generated from St. Petersburg would not have the “Tampa” postmark stamped on it or some other regional description. Okay, but how many jobs will be lost when this office shuts down—St. Petersburg wants a straight answer. The answer we keep hearing is “none.” Really?
Piccolo said, “[The postal system] had to do something. They’ve been operating the same way since the 1950s, and it is inefficient.” About 80-85 percent of the United States Postal Service (USPS) budget is for labor costs. Compared to 60 percent for UPS and 43 percent for FedEx, downsizing and consolidation were inevitable for the USPS.
Okay, so the USPS, in theory, has too many employees. So, how do you deal with that problem by not eliminating jobs? NPR reported that about 35,000 jobs will be lost as a result of USPS restructuring and consolidating.
Yet, Piccolo said that there are no plans to lay off USPS employees. The USPS plans to downsize by approximately 225,000 employees, but more than 100,000 of these are eligible for retirement today. Therefore, many will be retired while remaining employees will be transferred to fill vacant positions in other nearby USPS locations, within 50 miles of their current jobs.
So, no job losses are being projected. Not now.
But, this is not the end of the story—it is only the beginning. America and perhaps even St. Petersburg has not heard the last of USPS downsizing and its aftermath. What the USPS has announced that they plan to close so far is “only the first bite of the apple,” said Picolo. “[USPS] will have to close down far more offices in the near future.”
Officially, the USPS studied 211 centers and decided 183 of them should close to cut costs. They are currently conducting a second study, considering the closure of more USPS facilities.
Understandably, many remain skeptical that job loss will not be an inevitable casualty in this restructuring once all is complete. St. Petersburg residents are not demonstrating great confidence when it comes to promises from this process as of right now. We’ll see.
Via Daphne Street. You may reach Daphne at email@example.com.