The calls started coming in last Thursday with the same lament: “I didn’t get my Dial.” Not surprisingly, the calls coincided with the Postal Service’s decision to close its Madison distribution center three days earlier. Mail will now be trucked from Boscobel to Milwaukee and back, including mail to Boscobel, with the “local only” mail slot eliminated per Postal Service directive.
Distribution and processing facilities will also close in La Cross and Eau Claire and are among 82 facilities nationwide that will be consolidated as part of a plan approved in 2011 by the Postal Service Board of Governors. The closings will affect 15,000 total employees.
A 2013 study said that the moving the letter and flat mail processing operations to Milwaukee would result in $2 million in savings the first year and $4 million after that. However, it will also delay first-class mail delivery by up to a day and second-class mail such as newspapers by as much or more.
“I can understand the savings, but it’s going to hurt us if it affects our service,” said Boscobel Postmaster Rick McQuillan. “We’re getting calls on Saturdays from people who didn’t get their unemployment or Social Security checks.”
Work that had been done in Eau Claire and La Crosse will move to St. Paul, Minn. That means that mail from Boscobel to Steuben will be trucked to Milwaukee, then on to St. Paul, La Crosse, and Eastman before arriving in Steuben several days later.
“The new standard for a first class letter getting from Boscobel to Madison is now two days, where in the past it used to be one day,” McQuillan said. “That’s probably OK it it’s consistent, but if it turns out to be three or four days we’re in trouble.”
When the network consolidation has been completed by the fall of this year, the USPS estimates that about 20 percent of first class mail will be delivered overnight, more than 35 percent will be delivered in two days, and 44 percent in three days.
“So if you have a grandchild with a birthday coming up, it’s probably a good idea to get it in the mail a day or two earlier to make sure they get it on time,” McQuillan said.
After the USPS has completed its network consolidation plan, it expects to achieve a savings of $3.5 billion over the next five years, significantly short of the $8 billion drop in revenue the USPS has sustained over the past five years.
Future cost-saving measures could include the elimination of Saturday delivery altogether and more post office closings and consolidations, particularly in rural areas.