Postal Service cuts to hit Chicago region

March 25, 2011

By Alex Keefe and The Associated Press

Some 7,500 jobs cuts at the United States Postal Service will hit the Chicago region.

The U.S. Postal Service district office in west suburban Carol Stream is one of seven nationwide that will be shut down, the agency annouced Thursday. The closure will affect 78 managerial jobs and 50 union workers, said Mark Reynolds, the Postal Service spokesman in Chicago.

Some workers are being offered early retirement buyouts, and the Postal Service is hoping to find other positions for other workers, Reynolds said.

Thursday's announcement came on the same day that the independent Postal Rate Commission said the U.S. Postal Service overstated its potential savings from eliminating Saturday mail delivery, which it's considering in order to help close a multi-billion dollar budget deficit.

"The shift to digital communications and the recent recession have resulted in the most dramatic drop in mail volume and if we're gonna remain competitive, we have to make some major changes," Reynolds said, adding that the district office closures will not affect daily mail delivery.

But some of the 7,500 positions to be cut could be spared if the Postal Service restructures its pension system, said Mark Strong, president of the National League of Postmasters, which represents some postal employees.

"Let's get some stability back into the finances, and quit the doom and gloom, 'We're dying' [stufff], because it's not true," Strong said.

The agency lost $8.5 billion last year and is seeking ways to cut costs, including a proposal to close local offices. Congress will have the final say on whether Saturdays become mail-free, and last year it asked the regulatory agency to study the matter.

In Thursday's report, the PRC said the Postal Service estimate of savings from cutting Saturday delivery was overstated by $1.4 billion. In addition, it said the post office underestimated losses because of volume declines.