In a cost-cutting move, the U.S. Postal Service is moving ahead with plans to close 82 mail processing facilities across the country early next year, including four in Minnesota.
USPS officials announced the plans Monday to employees at the affected facilities and to customers. The four facilities in Minnesota targeted for closure are in Duluth, St. Cloud, Bemidji and Mankato. Their mail-handling operations will be transferred to facilities in either Minneapolis or St. Paul.
Also on the list for closure are four facilities in Wisconsin – in Madison, Wausau, Eau Claire and La Crosse. The Eau Claire and La Crosse operations will be transferred to St. Paul.
Facilities in Huron, South Dakota and Minot, North Dakota are also slated to be closed.
The Postal Service says it expects to save about $750 million through the closures. An earlier round of consolidations in 2012 and 2013 trimmed costs by $865 million, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. A mail facility in Rochester, Minnesota was shut down in the previous round.
It's not yet clear whether any postal service employees will lose their jobs as a result. In previous consolidations, employees were transferred to other facilities.
The Duluth facility was spared during the last round of closings, in part due to the influence of U.S. Sen. Al Franken. He said he will go to bat again to keep the plant open.
"If these processing centers are closed, a letter sent from Duluth to Hibbing would travel all the way to the Twin Cities, and then back up to Hibbing. That doesn't make any sense," Franken said, according to the Pioneer Press. "This will hurt rural Minnesotans, drive customers away from the Postal Service and undercut financial savings."
Over the past three years, the Postal Service has lost $26 billion. It says it needs to move forward with this plan to help address its budget shortfall.
Here's the list of all the mail processing facilities scheduled for closure next year.