NH postal facility slated for closure

The economy and Internet continue to conspire against the U.S. Postal Service, as the once seemingly strong business will close a district office in Manchester to save money.

About 75 positions at the New Hampshire-Vermont district office will be eliminated, but all of those employees can apply for new jobs within the Postal Service, said Todd Skulnik, a USPS communications officer.

Postal carriers and their routes will not be affected by the office’s closure, Skulnik said. Customers should not notice the effect of the office’s closing, he said.

With the economy showing no signs of recovery, USPS had to take “bold actions” to respond to its ongoing financial crisis, the Postal Service said.

That crisis is fewer people sending mail the old fashioned way, USPS officials have said. E-mail has all but replaced the written letter, and companies mail less materials to trim expenses.For instance, in 2008, USPS handled 9.5 billion fewer pieces of mail from the previous year – a 4.5 percent drop. USPS still took care of 202.7 billion pieces overall in 2008, but apparently that’s not enough to keep business operations the same as usual.

USPS will close the Manchester facility and five of its other 80 district offices to save $100 million annually, the postal service said. More than 1,400 mail processing supervisors and management positions will be eliminated nationwide, USPS said.

The work of the Manchester office, at 1050 Perimeter Road, will be added to an office in Maine, said Skulnik, whose position is being eliminated in the closure. The office is set to shut down in August, he said.

Workers at the office handle finance, communications, management of addresses for delivery and other business affairs, Skulnik said.

The closure is one of several actions USPS has taken this year to cut costs. Another was changing city delivery schedules to adjust for fewer pieces of mail.

No full-time letter carriers lost their jobs because of the delivery schedule changes, Skulnik said. Rather, the routes of city carriers were adjusted to give them a full eight-hour work day and cut costs, he said.

Nashua, Manchester, Concord and Burlington, Vt. – the cities that were reviewed – were shown to have few routes that needed adjustment, Skulnik said. If a customer’s route has changed, it would have been only the delivery time and the carrier, he said.

Another cost-cutting measure will be the offering of voluntary retirement to 150,000 USPS employees, Skulnik said.

Although USPS says mail processing and delivery won’t be affected by the Manchester office closure, the state’s federal legislative delegation protested the move.

U.S. Sens. Judd Gregg and Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Reps. Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter wrote to USPS that the facility “continues to be one of the best performing offices in our country, providing important postal service and high quality customer service to the residents and businesses in the Granite State and across New England.

“We urge the Postal Service to suspend their decision to shut down this district office,” the state’s Congressional delegation said in a joint statement. “We understand the challenges they face, but especially in these tough economic times, we encourage them to consider the quality and performance consistently demonstrated by this center so we can protect these New Hampshire jobs.”