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Richard Quinn / Special to The Star

Mail handler George Parker pickets at the Oxnard Post Office over possible consolidation of mail processing centers, including one in Oxnard.

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Richard Quinn / Special to The Star

Nancy Carini, a mail processing clerk, talks to a customer at the Oxnard Post Office, where postal workers picketed.

Postal workers protest consolidation proposal

By Kevin Clerici, kclerici@VenturaCountyStar.com
October 27, 2006

Some 50 postal workers some still awake from an overnight shift picketed Thursday outside the main post office in Oxnard over possible consolidation of mail distribution centers around the country, including one in Oxnard.

The workers, members of the local American Postal Workers union, were upset because the Oxnard processing center where they work on Camino del Sol is on a list of 139 centers nationwide that could be consolidated.

Its closure, the union said, could displace up to 300 employees the closest processing facilities are in Goleta and Santa Clarita while leading to possible delays in mail delivery from Simi Valley to Summerland.

"The Postal Service doesn't want this information public," said Jack Villa, a legislative director for Channel Islands Area Local 589, which serves some 280 employees of postal facilities in Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Port Hueneme.

The U.S. Postal Service initiated plans to consolidate mail processing plants and trim payroll and benefits costs in 2005. In August, the parent American Postal Workers Union filed a successful federal injunction to block further consolidation for now, said Roberta Molloy, president of the local postal worker union and a 29-year clerk at the Oxnard facility.

While the Oxnard plant is on the list, no decision or timetable about its future has been made public, the union said.

Pam Mathis, a supervisor at Oxnard's main post office on C Street, confirmed that the Oxnard facility was on the consolidation list, but referred other questions to a Postal Service spokesman, who did not return calls.

The Oxnard mail facility processes more than 2 million pieces of mail daily, and most employees work overnight and early morning shifts. The facility serves all of Ventura County except Thousand Oaks, as well as coastal communities around Carpinteria and Summerland, Molloy said.

Experienced full-time postal workers would not lose jobs, but could be reassigned under national labor contracts, Molloy said.

"Workers (at the Oxnard facility) could be reassigned to Goleta or Santa Clarita, but the reality is that we could also be reassigned to Kansas City, wherever they want us to go," she said.

Postal worker Candy Garcia worked in the distribution center in Goleta in January when six co-workers were shot and killed by a former co-worker. He has no desire to go back.

"A less than zero" desire, he said Thursday as he waved a handmade sign outside the post office. "You can't make me go back there."

The consolidation effort already has had a regional effect, the union said. This year, a mail processing plant in Marina del Rey was closed and a processing center in Pasadena had its outgoing mail operation moved to Santa Clarita. That left 90 employees reassigned, Villa said.

Union leaders in coming days plan to reach out to members of area city councils and go before the county Board of Supervisors.

"The community should have some involvement in this decision," Villa said.

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