APWU Members in Florida Enlist
Public’s Support in Consolidation Fight
APWU Web News Article #121-08, Dec. 12, 2008
When the Postal Service announced a consolidation study in Manasota, FL, APWU’s Local 7136 swung into action without waiting for the first in “a series of community meetings” that the USPS said it would schedule.
Instead, the local launched its own effort to inform the public about the plan, and prompted the area’s largest city government to hold a special meeting. The local has also launched a special Web site (www.keepthemailhere.com), at which local citizens can sign a petition to encourage the Postal Service to keep the 375-worker facility in full operation.
In late November, the USPS announced [PDF] that it had initiated an “efficiency study” of the Manasota Processing and Distribution Center, and said the study would be completed by the end of the year. If changes were recommended, the Postal Service said, it would hold a series of public meetings.
The P&DC is in Bradenton, in Manatee County, just south of Tampa Bay. The study will look at processing mail in Tampa, “a 60-mile one-way trip,” according to area workers, including many who live in neighboring Sarasota County.
“Since the Nov. 25 announcement, we have been contacting elected officials about the consolidation study,” said local APWU President Jim DeMauro. The Sarasota City Commission held what the municipality’s Web site called “a special meeting."
“It was convened specifically to address the proposed Area Mail Processing study,” DeMauro said, noting that the local got very involved.
“Although we only had 24-hours notice, we mobilized quickly and had about 50 APWU members, family members, and supportive citizens in attendance,” the local union president said. “I spoke on the issue, as did several of our members, including Bruce Wagner and Maintenance Steward Tony Neri.”
The meeting was broadcast live in Sarasota, and the archived video of the meeting is available at the city’s Web site (in the archives as the Dec. 3 city commission’s “Special Meeting”). Members have also spoken before city councils in the Sarasota County cities of Venice and North Port, and in Bradenton itself.
More than 40 postal workers attended a Bradenton City Council meeting on Dec. 9 at which the lawmakers directed Mayor Wayne Poston to write to the Postal Service about the city’s concern about threatened job cutbacks.
Local APWU Vice President Glenn Hayes outlined for the council the pitfalls of processing Manasota’s mail in Tampa. “It’s a 60-mile trip one way to Tampa,” Hayes said. He noted that unless a customer takes his mail to a post office and specifically asks for it, the Bradenton postmark will disappear.
Councilman Patrick Roff told an area newspaper that he was worried about the loss of jobs that pay better than average. “Most of the jobs in the area pay a lower rate than what the workers at the post office make,” Roff said. “We don’t want to lose any of those jobs.”
The motion to send a letter to the Postal Service passed unanimously. The Bradenton lawmakers also are seeking to link the city’s Web site to keepthemailhere.com.
“My fellow officers and I have also been doing interviews with local newspapers, so we are getting the APWU message out every way we can,” DeMauro said. “We are just getting started on the issue of consolidation, but the possible loss of service and community postmark seems to be taking on a life of its own here.”
The Web site provides a link through which APWU members and citizens can print out a petition to distribute for signature-gathering purposes.
“Our local has been given a goal of 30 community signatures per member to oppose the AMP,” DeMauro said.
On Dec. 9, the Postal Service announced [PDF] that it intends to conduct an AMP study of mail processing at the Portsmouth, NH, P&DF, “for possible consolidation of some operations into the Manchester, NH, Processing and Distribution Center.” The two facilities are about 45 miles apart.
On Dec. 10, the USPS said that is conducting an AMP feasibility study in Hattiesburg, MS [PDF], to determine whether “efficiency could be increased” be consolidating the mail processing operations currently performed at the Customer Service Mail Processing Center (CSMPC) there with operations at the Gulfport, MS, P&DF, about 70 miles away.