The U.S. Senate is expected to take up a critical amendment today which, if approved, would ensure that 3,700 postal facilities, including 150 in West Virginia currently targeted for closure, would remain open for at least another two years. The additional time would allow the Postal Service to consider better cost-saving measures.
We see no reason why this common-sense measure, introduced by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., should not be approved by the Senate. The amendment is of particular importance to the region, as it would keep Bluefield’s Mail Processing and Distribution Center open for another two years, thus protecting dozens of jobs in the Bluefield area. The measure would also keep another 24 small, rural postal facilities, currently targeted for closure in Mercer, McDowell, Tazewell, Buchanan, Bland and Giles counties open for another two years.
Many postal facilities in the region, including the mail processing and distribution center in Bluefield, are scheduled to close after May 15. That’s why Manchin’s amendment is of critical importance to our region. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the measure today, spokeswoman Marni Goldberg confirmed Monday afternoon.
If approved by the Senate, the amendment would allow the facilities currently targeted for closure to remain operational for another two years, and would keep those employees who work at the postal facilities in question on the job.
Manchin is encouraging the Postal Service to consider several other cost-saving measures before cutting into the core of its mission. Some of his preferred cost-saving ideas include: eliminating excessive bonuses for Postal Service executives, making sure that the products offered by the Postal Service cover their costs, getting rid of retail space that the Postal Service is not using, and ending the expenditure of Postal Service advertising dollars on luxuries such as sponsoring the U.S. Tour de France team and a NASCAR team. All of these common-sense, cost-saving measures must be implemented first before postal facilities are closed, and jobs are lost.
The current Postal Service’s proposal would close thousands of rural post offices to save $200 million, which is less than 1 percent of the agency’s total $20 billion budget. Manchin correctly argues that the current closure plan would devastate rural towns, including potentially 150 communities across West Virginia who are still dependent upon their postal facilities.
We would encourage the Senate — and all lawmakers representing southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia — to vote in support of Manchin’s amendment. The passage of this measure is critical to our region. It is the best solution to the current postal crisis and, perhaps, our last chance to keep the postal processing center in Bluefield open.