KANSAS CITY — The U.S. Postal Service, hit hard by declining mail volume and revenue, announced plans Thursday to close mail processing centers around the country, including two in Missouri and seven in Kansas that will mean the loss of more than 200 positions.
"Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation," Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan said in a statement. Brian Sperry, a Postal Service spokesman in Denver, said more than 200 processing facilities have been targeted for closing nationwide.
In Missouri, the Postal Service plans to shift the work from its Springfield distribution and processing facility to its Kansas City distribution center, and move work from the Cape Girardeau distribution center to a site in downtown St. Louis, said Richard Watkins, spokesman for the Postal Service's regional office in Kansas City.
In Kansas, mail processing centers in Hays, Salina, Dodge City, and Hutchinson, would move to the Wichita processing center. The work at the Liberal processing center would be handled in Amarillo, Texas. Work at Topeka's distribution center would go to the facility in Kansas City, Mo., and the Colby center's work would shift to the processing center in North Platte, Neb.
The closings don't affect the Postal Service's retail or business mail units in the Missouri and Kansas locations. No date had been set for the consolidations, but Watkins said they would not take effect before May 15.
"The key is that overall mail volume is down 20 percent," Watkins said. First-class mail is down 25 percent since 2006, he said.
The Springfield closing in Missouri will mean a loss of 65 positions and the Cape Girardeau closing 71 positions, Watkins said. Some transfer opportunities will be available.
The Kansas closings would mean a loss of about 100 positions, with several jobs shifting to the sites in Wichita, Nebraska, Texas and Missouri, Sperry said. He estimated the cuts in Kansas alone would save the Postal Service more than $10 million a year.
The Postal Service, which forecasts a record $14.1 billion loss by the end of this year, recently said it will lose as much as $18.2 billion a year by 2015 if Congress doesn't allow it to cut Saturday delivery, slow first-class mail by one day and raise the cost of a postage stamp.
Earlier this month, the Postal Service also said its quarterly loss was up to $3.3 billion amid declining mail volume and said it could run out of money by October. The Postal Service is an independent agency of government and is subject to some congressional control.
Jan Manlove, secretary-treasurer of the Wichita local of the American Postal Workers Union, said Thursday the cuts would likely contribute to the Postal Service's decline.
"Cuts to the Postal Service will only hasten the problem. It does not help the Postal Service at all," Manlove said. "It will slow down service, which will encourage more people to not use the Postal Service. It's sort of a death spiral."