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Postal Service to cut 43 jobs

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Forty-three postal jobs in Honolulu will be eliminated by Jan. 15, but the employees have been guaranteed at least part-time work with the U.S. Postal Service, although they may have to relocate to the mainland.

All of the employees have five years or less of seniority. Most work in the Postal Service’s Honolulu Airport processing plant where they sort mail by ZIP code, according to a postal employee who asked not to be identified, saying he feared for his job.

The rest work in other facilities in Honolulu, Postal Service spokesman Duke Gonzales said.

In the last six years, the number of Postal Service jobs has fallen to 2,600 from 3,000 throughout the Honolulu District, which encompasses Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Saipan, Rota and Tinian, Gonzales said.

The 43 employees were notified last week and will be guaranteed at least part-time employment, Gonzales said.

It is possible that the more senior employees could fill a position in Honolulu made vacant by a future retirement or resignation, he said. More likely, they will be offered a part-time or full-time position somewhere on the mainland, Gonzales said.

The Postal Service would pay the costs for employees to relocate, Gonzales said.

"They are guaranteed the opportunity to remain employed by the Postal Service in some capacity, whether as full- or part-time employees," Gonzales said in an e-mail. "The only question is whether they will accept what is offered."

Representatives with the American Postal Worker Union in Honolulu and California did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The job losses in Honolulu come as the service continues to struggle to find new sources of revenue and compete with private parcel carriers and the increasing use of the Internet to pay bills and send correspondence.

Nationally, "the drop in the economy coupled with the shift to digital communications has created the greatest loss in mail volume since the Great Depression," Gonzales wrote.

Mail volume peaked nationally at 213 billion pieces in 2006 and fell to 170.6 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, he said.

At the same time, revenue shrank to $67.1 billion from $72.6 billion in 2006. The 2010 fiscal year net loss was $8.5 billion.

"We need to change in order to adapt to our customers’ changing needs," Gonzales wrote. "The Postal Service’s Hawaii complement reductions are part of an ongoing nationwide effort to right-size its workforce and deploy its employees where they are most needed. The Postal Service’s action plan for the future includes establishing a workforce that is leaner and better allocated to quickly respond to customer mailing needs. This process is being achieved through attrition and working with labor unions and management associations to optimize the workforce."

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