Juneau Will Retain Mail Processing Center

Juneau’s postal service will not change.  The U.S. Postal Service was considering closing Juneau’s mail processing center and transferring its operations to Anchorage, but it’s nixed the idea.  USPS spokesman Ernie Swanson says officials thought the change would not have a big impact, but in the end decided it wouldn’t save enough money to be worthwhile.

“Granted the distance between Juneau and Anchorage fairly significant and can only be done by plane,” Swanson said. “There are planes moving between them all the time and we have planes carrying mail anyway.”

“But in the final analysis PO decided wasn’t going to provide the level of financial savings hoping for, so decided not to go ahead with it.”

An analysis by the Postal Service shows closing the Juneau processing center would have saved about $150,000 to $200,000 a year.

If the plan had gone forward, any mail going in and out of Juneau would have been routed through Anchorage.  Swanson says that would have meant earlier pick up of mail at collection boxes and a later drop-off by an hour or two at delivery units in Juneau.  But he does not think it would have hurt most delivery schedules.  He says it’s hard to know how many jobs would have been affected because some could’ve been absorbed by other Juneau offices or transferred to different hubs.

The only other Alaskan processing center besides the ones in Juneau and Anchorage is in Fairbanks, and officials say it is not targeted for closure.

The USPS is facing what it calls a dire financial crisis so it’s looking for ways to cut costs.  Swanson says its “redesign program” has given financial incentives to employees to take early retirement, and cut some jobs.

“In the state of Alaska, about 23 administrative positions were eliminated. Some of those people elected to take the early retirement,” Swanson said. “Others are staying onboard, hoping to find new positions. Of that 23 were only about 42 administrative positions in Alaska to begin with.”

“So it’s a fairly significant impact on the administrative management side of things in the Alaska district.”

Overall the USPS has lost 110,000 jobs in the last few years. Nationally the Postal Service is pushing Congress to consider cutting out Saturday service, and it’s already working on internal changes besides consolidating operations like cutting some branches and reducing hours.

Swanson says the post office’s fate is largely tied to the economy, because an improvement in the economic forecast could mean more people and companies using the mail for bulk advertising and other business.