Postal Service to delay cutbacks until mid-May

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to delay the closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local posts until mid-May.

The cash-strapped agency, which is forecast to lose a record $14.1 billion next year, announced last week it was moving forward on cutbacks. It had planned to begin closing processing centers, including the one located on Dalton St. in Cincinnati, as early as April, and shut down some post offices early next year.

A group of senators planned to announce the agreement Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid preempting the announcement.

Last Thursday, a group of 18 Senate Democrats, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, signed a letter to congressional leaders asking them to add language to legislation that would halt closings for six months.

"Call me old fashioned but I want to see the postal service still deliver six days a week, you drop something in the mail with a first class stamp, it gets there in the next day or two and I think that matters," says Brown.

Local post office customers are split, some are happy to hear Sen. Brown helped reach an agreement while others understand the need for downsizing in today's economy.

"I think in the long term everyone knows that this has to happen, we're going to have closures, there are going to have to be more efficiencies," says Michael Vanderburgh.

"I think Sherrod Brown is wonderful, that is just great. I'm happy to hear it and happy that he was the one that did it," says J.C. Robinson.

One of the elements Brown will work to change through legislation is the advancement of retirement benefits.

"The postal service is required now to pre-fund it's retirement benefits for 75 years into the future. Nobody, no private Proctor and Gamble doesn't do that," says Brown.

This delay does not guarantee every post office will remain open but it does give more time to hopefully pass legislation to help the postal service get out of the red.

If not, closures could cost 100,000 postal employees their jobs.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. staff contributed to this report.