Official Hints at Closings as Group Protests Postal Forum

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BOSTON -- The U.S. Postal Service is going to make some unpopular decisions -- including consolidating postal facilities -- next year as it continues to cut costs, the vice chairman of the Board of Governors told a group of nonprofit mailers yesterday at the Fall 2002 National Postal Forum here.

"You have a board that has in essence, set policy for management, and management is carrying it out," said the BOG's S. David Fineman. "What is that policy? The policy is that we are going to downsize, we are going to stay with our core business, we are going to try to run this place in a profitable kind of manner, like a business."

Once these decisions are made, "I need you all to stand there with me," Fineman said. "Let's assume for a minute that we consolidate two plants. And let's assume one is in one Congressional district, and one is another congressional district. The one that lost is going to call Gov. Fineman up to Capitol Hill and start ranting and raving about what happens to XYZ community."

To a large degree, that congressman, "might be right because XYZ is terribly affected as a result of us closing one plant. And maybe we'll have to figure out a way around it. But I'll tell you right now, if you people and others don't have any backbone and stand with us as we begin to downsize the postal service, it will not happen. … Stand with us, shoulder-to-shoulder as we start to move in to the 21st century."

Postal insiders said they are hearing that the USPS may announce closings and employee cuts immediately after the November elections.

Meanwhile, 100 workers from a Boston postal union protested yesterday morning in front of the Hynes Convention Center, where the Forum was being held.

The union criticized USPS management, specifically Postmaster General John E. Potter for how he negatively treats "career employees." Picketers also were concerned with how the USPS is using part-time workers instead of full-time employees. At one point, the protesters entered the convention center as they cheered and yelled in front of the forum's registration area.


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