APWU Leads Protests of Florida Consolidation Plans
APWU Web News Article #018-09, Feb. 17, 2009
Approximately 200 postal workers and their families and friends crowded a university auditorium in Lakeland, FL, on Feb. 11 to protest the Postal Service plan to move processing operations and as many as 40 jobs from the Lakeland P&DC to the Tampa P&DC, about 40 miles away.
According to the Lakeland Ledger, about 50 additional people who wanted to attend couldn’t fit into the room — for the only public meeting the USPS planned to hold on the matter.
Some workers told the crowd that although they will not lose their jobs, they could be excessed as much as 150 miles away if the plan goes through. “A 150-mile radius? That's a firing!” said APWU member Steve Carman.
The following day, 130 residents of Manatee and Sarasota Counties let postal officials know how they felt about plans to move the postal sorting operations from the Manasota P&DC, located south of Bradenton, to Tampa. After postal officials presented a slide show intended to show that service would be maintained at current levels, the Bradenton Herald reported that several speakers questioned how that was possible, pointing out that the mail would have to be trucked more than 60 miles round trip for processing.
Citing concerns about service and local jobs, elected officials from the cities of Bradenton and Sarasota, and from Manatee and Sarasota counties, are among those expressing loud opposition to USPS plans to consolidate. Bradenton City Councilman Patrick Roff placed a foot-high stack of petitions on the stage, then began his remarks by explaining that the pile held the signatures of 14,435 area residents who oppose the plan. As an elected official, he said, protecting jobs is one of his top priorities.
Attendees also criticized the Postal Service for refusing to release any data to support their projections about savings under the plans. “There was a complete lack of transparency and honesty by the USPS officials both before and at the ‘input’ meeting,” said Manasota Local APWU President Jim DeMauro.
“Unfortunately, the consolidation plans in Florida are typical of the Postal Service’s response to the harsh economy,” said APWU President William Burrus. “What should be its two major concerns — the timely processing of mail and the most efficient utilization of the existing workforce — seem to be last on management’s agenda.”
Burrus noted that instead the USPS caters to its big mailers, as seen, for example, in southern California. “While the USPS is studying the feasibility of consolidating its mail processing operations in City of Industry and Long Beach [PDF], Pitney Bowes has announced the opening of an 84,000-square-foot mail-processing facility in Corona, less than 50 miles away from the USPS plants.
“The new plant will be financed through worksharing discounts offered by the USPS,” Burrus said, “and its workers will perform duties that could be performed more efficiently by postal employees.”
Several other AMP feasibility studies have recently been announced, including possible consolidations of some operations from the Springfield (MA) P&DC into the Hartford (CT) P&DC [PDF], 30 miles away.
In other recent developments, the USPS announced in mid-January its intent to follow through on a three-year-old study of the consolidation of processing operations from Bridgeport, CT, to Stamford, about 25 miles away. APWU’s Bridgeport Area Local was outraged that the postal administrators didn’t give the public an opportunity to comment on the plan, but was thwarted in its attempt to prevent it. “The announcement was made six weeks before the move was expected to be completed,” said Local President Michael Dennehy. “They simply rushed it through without paying attention to the regulations.”