The United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to close its Long Beach mail-processing center at 2300 Redondo Ave. on Monday, July 1 as a way to alleviate financial problems, but the closure will not impact mail service, said a USPS spokesperson in an emailed statement last week.
Starting on the day of the closure, mail bound for ZIP codes with 905-, 907- (Signal Hill) and 908- (Long Beach) would be re-routed to a plant in Los Angeles, where it will be processed and then transported to post offices where a letter carrier is stationed, said Richard Maher, spokesperson for USPS in Los Angeles and Orange counties. He said mail delivered to ZIP codes with 906- would go to a plant in the city of Industry.
Leading up to the closure, transportation schedules will be revised, and additional equipment will be moved over to receiving plants if needed, Maher said. He said the USPS has also followed procedures in national collective-bargaining agreements to allow for the reassignment of about 400 employees.
“This rerouting and processing of mail will be transparent to customers,” Maher said. “USPS has plenty of experience with this process. Literally hundreds of these plant consolidations (over 300 since 2006) have been done across the nation without impacting service. Post-implementation reviews will ensure efficiencies and savings are being captured and that service levels remain high.”
He said public services, such as the post office retail lobby, mail collection, P.O. box mail delivery and acceptance of bulk-business mail at the Long Beach facility will remain open for the time being. The USPS, however, has not yet come forward with long-term plans for the facility.
USPS officials have stated that, if bulk-business mail or the retail lobby were to be relocated, the public and local business partners would be notified months in advance.
Also, a plaque in the retail lobby dedicated to Congressman Steve Horn would be transferred to a new facility if the retail lobby were closed or relocated. Horn was recognized for helping the City of Signal Hill to get its own ZIP code, 90755, nearly 10 years ago.
In terms of workers, nearly 400 mail-processing employees from the Long Beach plant are being reassigned to vacant positions in Los Angeles and Orange counties, Maher said.
Clerks, mail-handlers, equipment-maintenance workers and managers will report to new positions at facilities in Los Angeles, Industry, Santa Ana and Anaheim, as well as local post offices, he said.
The postal service has made an effort to avoid any layoffs, while a labor deal made in 1978 gives employees who have worked continuously for more than six years complete “layoff protection.”
“The postal service has a long history of avoiding laying off employees as it matches its resources to workload,” Maher said.
Since January of this year, approximately 104 of the Long Beach postal workers have retired, he added. Maher said the USPS has reduced its workforce by over 127,000 positions since 2008 through attrition.
The plan to scale back operations comes as the USPS continues to see a significant drop in mail volume, largely due to the shift from mail to online transactions and communications. At the same time, retiree benefits and other costs keep rising, according to USPS.
The consolidations were postponed last year due to the election season and in hopes of Congress passing legislation to allow for the agency to restructure its business model. The USPS receives no tax dollars and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
The Long Beach facility is one of nearly 140 mail-processing centers that are being consolidated with other facilities this year. The USPS estimates that the consolidation of the Long Beach plant alone is expected to save the agency more than $16 million.
“The consolidation of mail-processing facilities is an important component of a comprehensive, five-year plan to return the postal service to long-term financial stability,” Maher said. “While the Postal Service will continue to take aggressive steps to increase revenue and reduce operating expenses, it also needs prompt action by Congress to address congressional mandates and reform the agency’s business model.”
New retail-service hours
Additionally, due to the USPS’s financial situation, retail locations with “extended” hours are being adjusted slightly, he said. In the case of the Long Beach facility, hours are being scaled back an hour a day. The new hours are 9am to 7pm, Mondays through Fridays. The lobby used to open at 8am. Maher said the new retail hours are not related to the consolidation.
“The changes are being made in stages and after analysis of customer traffic patterns and transactions,” he said. “In Long Beach, the morning was a lot slower than the evening, so that is where the adjustment was made.”
Other locations with adjusted retail hours recently are the San Pedro and Lakewood post offices and six post offices in Orange County.
Maher said the Long Beach location has an automated postal center available 24/7 in which customers can purchase stamps and weigh and mail packages when the retail lobby is not accessible.
He said years ago customers had no choice but to visit a post office to buy stamps or ship a package, but postal services are now moving online and into retail outlets, grocery stores, office-supply chains and pharmacies.
Maher said there are now over 100,000 locations nationwide outside of post offices to buy stamps and ship packages, and over 40 percent of postal service retail revenue comes in through these expanded access channels.
At usps.com, customers may buy stamps, print shipping labels and download postage, schedule a free package pickup, change their address when they move, look up a ZIP code or put a hold on their mail.