Senator Collins, the Ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and one of the authors of the bipartisan Senate postal reform bill, released the following statement after learning of the Postal Service's decision to proceed with the closure of the Hampden processing plant.
“This evening, postal workers received notices that the Postal Service is proceeding with its ill-conceived plan to close the Hampden processing facility, despite its being essential to serving the businesses and residents of Northern, Eastern, and Central Maine.
"This plan makes no sense at all and should be abandoned.
"The closure of this plant would lead to job losses and lengthy delivery delays that will drive still more postal customers to use electronic mail or to seek other alternative means of delivery.
“The large size of our state makes it impossible for the Postal Service to serve the entire state efficiently with just one plant in Scarborough – a point I have made repeatedly to the Postmaster General. Both plants are needed.
“If mail to and from the northern half of Maine has to travel all the way to the Scarborough plant –- a more than 600-mile round trip from some Northern Maine communities -- longer delivery times are inevitable for small businesses advertising their products or billing their customers, for families who use the mail for their daily newspaper delivery, for seniors who rely on the mail for their prescription drugs, and for so many others. This would be a completely unacceptable deterioration of service that would be particularly harmful to rural Maine.
“Moreover, there are alternatives to shutting the plant down that could generate much needed revenue without degrading delivery times. At a January community meeting, I urged the Postal Service to retain its full processing operation in Hampden, but lease unneeded space in the building. Sharing part of the building with other businesses would generate much needed revenue while maintaining service.
“I cannot imagine why the Postal Service would threaten its fragile revenue stream by driving customers out of the mail and onto the Internet or to alternative shippers. Changes that lead to further declines in volume would only worsen the crisis facing the Postal Service and harm our economy since so many jobs depend on a healthy Postal Service.
“In a letter today to the Postmaster General, I have once again urged him to listen to the people of Maine who have spoken out clearly in strong opposition to this wrong-headed proposal. I hope that he will listen and not proceed with the closure of the Hampden plant for the good of the Postal Service itself, its employees and its customers.”
The following is the text of the letter Senator Collins sent to the Postmaster General.
February 22, 2012The Honorable Patrick Donahoe Postmaster General U.S. Postal Service 475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW Washington, D.C. 20260
Dear Postmaster General:
As I told you this evening, I am deeply disappointed and shocked that the Postal Service is proceeding to close its Hampden, Maine processing center, a decision that is contrary to the Postal Service's own interests and that will create job losses and hurt service in much of Maine. This decision is inexplicable given the compelling testimony at the public hearing in January about the detrimental impact of closing the plant. The hard-working employees of the Hampden facility deserve better, as do all the residents of Northern, Eastern, and Central Maine, who would be affected by this terrible decision.
I have repeatedly pressed the Postal Service, to no avail, to provide information on how management expects to maintain quality mail delivery service in Maine by closing one of only two key processing facilities in the state. Given the geography of Maine, both plants are clearly essential.
If mail to and from the northern half of Maine has to travel all the way to the Scarborough plant to be processed, longer delivery times are inevitable, and that has consequences -- for small businesses advertising their products or billing their customers, for families who use the mail for their daily newspaper delivery, for seniors who rely on the mail for their prescription drugs, and for so many others.
It is inconceivable that there are no possible alternatives for the Hampden site aside from shutting the plant. For example, I urged the Postal Service to maintain full processing operations but to lease unneeded space in the building. Such a plan would generate much-needed additional revenue without impairing mail delivery service standards.
No business facing a financial crisis would risk alienating the loyal customers it still has by eliminating the one service that sets it apart from competitors – overnight delivery of mail for the price of a stamp – yet the Postal Service is rushing down the path of reduced service and the associated plant closures.
Closure of this plant would force businesses ranging from home-delivery of medicines to newspapers to turn to other, non-postal delivery options. Once these private firms leave the mail system, they won’t be coming back, and the Postal Service’s revenues will suffer yet another blow from which it might not recover.
Moreover, the Postal Service’s assumptions about projected losses and savings from service cuts have proven unreliable in the past. For instance, the magnitude of the savings the Postal Service estimates from eliminating Saturday delivery has been challenged by the Postal Regulatory Commission, in part because of the Postal Service’s significant underestimation of likely lost revenue. Given this history, I have little confidence that the Postal Service has adequately projected just how much business it stands to lose in Maine should it proceed with the closure of the Hampden facility.
It is unacceptable and incredibly short-sighted for the Postal Service to ignore the irreparable harm that Hampden's closure would cause so many Maine businesses, their customers and employees, and of course the postal workers at the plant and the USPS itself.
I am firmly opposed to the Hampden plant closing and remain unconvinced that this is the best path forward for the Postal Service. This proposal should be abandoned once and for all.