USPS ‘Network Realignment’ Update
Public Supports Workers’ Efforts
To Preserve Service, Postmarks, Jobs
APWU Web News Article #06-06, Jan. 25, 2006
From Waterbury to Waco, from western Pennsylvania to Pacific Palisades, public officials, consumers, and local businesses are expressing alarm at wide-ranging plans to consolidate “some operations” at postal facilities around the country.
As part of an effort to get the Postal Service to reconsider plans to relocate major functions of the city’s Main Post Office, Waterbury, CT, Mayor Michael J. Jarjura has sought the support of state and federal officials.
“Relocating the essential services that are provided in the Waterbury facility would translate into significant job loss for the city and an increase in the cost of mailings to all nonprofit businesses and corporations,” Jarjura said in a letter to two of Connecticut’s U.S. Representatives.
James Conway, president of APWU’s Waterbury Area Local, had provided the information about the increase in costs for mailings that would have to go through Wallingford. One of the congressional representatives immediately asked USPS headquarters for verification of the savings the Postal Service is projecting.
In Waco, TX, approximately 250 jobs are in jeopardy because of the USPS plan to relocate the city’s mail processing and distribution facilities 85 to 100 miles away to Fort Worth and Austin. U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards sent a letter to USPS headquarters hoping to get clarification regarding the intent of the recently announced Area Mail Processing (AMP) study. The president of Waco’s Chamber of Commerce wondered whether Postal Service officials would “look at ways to be more efficient and still keep [local] jobs.”
“We serve a wide area,” said Ruby Harrison, vice president of APWU’s Waco Local in an interview with the Waco Tribune-Herald. “If you’re mailing a bill across town, that bill will have to be trucked to either Austin or Fort Worth to get postmarked and then be trucked back to Waco and delivered.”
In Freeport, IL, Gregg Voiles, president of APWU’s Rockford Area Local, was puzzled by the plan to move processing to Palatine, about 90 miles away. “Everything would go to Palatine, even though our production numbers are better,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense at all.”
U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R) showed his concern about the move of the Freeport sorting operation and the closing of small, rural post offices by meeting with postal officials. “It wasn’t a very pleasant meeting,” said a Manzullo spokesman. Manzullo did extract a commitment to postpone plans, the spokesman said, so that concerned citizens could gather evidence to support a no-move proposition.
The APWU’s Voiles told the Journal-Standard newspaper that he was pleased to have Manzullo on the side of consumers and workers. “He’s exactly what we need to fight this. This is unbelievable.”
What many consumers and workers find unbelievable is how the Postal Service continues to portray AMP surveys simply as studies, perhaps of no important consequence.
“There will be no job loss,” said a postal district manager asked about any possible adverse effects from an AMP study to shift mail processing away from Springfield, MA. “We look at Springfield as a hub for us, and, with long-term planning, we expect that it will continue.”
“I don’t even think he knows what is going to happen,” said Frederick S. Lowney, president of the Springfield Area Local APWU in remarks to the Republican newspaper.
“Our members are concerned,” Lowney said in reference to the 1,200 workers he represents.
“They can be shifted to jobs in a 100-mile radius. Are they going to have to sell their homes? We have been kept in the dark.”
The Iowa Senate on Jan. 18 passed a resolution to keep a P&DC in Sioux City, IA, rather than send processing, the postmark, and jobs nearly 90 miles west to Sioux Falls, SD. The resolution, which passed unanimously, noted that this is not just a “Siouxland” issue, but an all-Iowa issue.
Current arrangements, the resolution said, result in “one-day service locally and national service in two days. [The loss] would degrade service to two days for the Siouxland area and to three days for other parts of the country.”
Like the Iowa Senate, the county commissioners of Westmoreland County, PA, home of the Youngwood Mail Processing Center, were unanimous in their resolve to keep nearly 100 jobs from moving out of Greensburg and local mail from moving more slowly: “Mail delivery in most cases is accomplished in one business day,” a Dec. 31, 2005, county resolution says, “which is an important element of managing businesses, governments and households.”
In Pacific Palisades, CA, residents have been complaining for months about the effects of a consolidation that has already occurred. In an interview Jan. 18 with the Palisadian Post, Community Council Chairman Kurt Toppel expressed exasperation with high-ranking postal officials.
“There is no functioning management that I can identify,” Toppel told the newspaper. “For over three months now, we have tried unsuccessfully to have post office management address our council, and thus our community, to respond to specific problems. These problems started last summer with the closure of the Marina del Rey processing facility.”
After detailing what the newspaper called “delivery complaints that are by now familiar to most Palisades households,” such as late-arriving mail, Toppel said it was “grossly unfair to try to shift responsibility for problems to the ‘worker bees’ who do an amazing job considering the lack of management.”
Toppel said that he had been told by the staff of a U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D) that “so many complaints have been received that Waxman has started an official inquiry into the matter.”
As a Postal Service public affairs spokesperson said in an Aberdeen American News story about an Area Mail Processing study of the Aberdeen (SD) facility. “There is no community component with the study. It’s just an internal look at mail processing and network operations. The study is being conducted by postal officials, and does not call for public comment.”
“The reaction of citizens to USPS ‘consolidation’ plans is proving to be very negative,” said APWU President William Burrus.
“A Government Accountability Office report two years ago pointed out that the Postal Service has been reluctant to disclose its realignment strategy because management believes the plans will meet with resistance from employees, communities and legislators," he said. “It is clear that management’s concern was well-placed.”
For a look at a way to fight consolidation plans with what the Bloomington (IN) Local APWU calls “all available means,” visit www.bloomapwu.com (An AMP study of Bloomington mail processing is likely to result in the shift of operations to Indianapolis, 45 miles away.)