APWU Locals Lead Protests
Of Postal Service Consolidation Plans
APWU Web News Article #025-09, March 4, 2009
APWU members staged informational pickets protesting USPS mail-processing proposals in several locations in north-central Ohio on March 2.
The pickets, in sub-freezing weather, took place in Fostoria, Tiffin and Bucyrus, all towns in which outgoing mail is sent to Mansfield for sorting, but, under Postal Service plans, would be shifted another hour east to Akron, with service likely to suffer. The union members told local news media about the USPS failure to maintain transparency in its planning.
"We think there's a whole lot of things being said to the public that's not true," Mansfield Area Local President Vance DeWitt said.
APWU member Tim Hambly pointed out that mail from these towns would still go to Mansfield, but would then go to Akron – only to return to Mansfield for ultimate distribution. Service quality would decline and costs, especially in fuel, would increase, he said.
The picketers asked citizens to sign petitions and write elected officials to ask for another study to be done on the Mansfield post office. The protestors were back in force in Norwalk and Bellevue on March 3, and plan to picket again in Mansfield on March 6.
About 30 postal workers held a rally in late February in front of the Mansfield Post Office, not long after the city council there passed a resolution opposing the USPS mail-processing plans, with the resolution being forwarded to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), Sen. George Voinovich (R) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R).
APWU members heard “horns from passing cars blaring a message of support” as they took part in informational picketing Feb. 26 on the sidewalks near the main Wilkes-Barre post office.
John Kishel, president of the Wilkes-Barre Area Local, told the daily Times Leader that the level of support was not surprising. He said that more than 6,000 people had signed petitions opposing the possible closure and relocation of work. Mail processing would be shifted to Scranton, approximately 25 miles away; jobs would transfer to Scranton and well beyond.
Approximately 100 of the 230 workers in the Wilkes-Barre facility could be moved to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and even as far away as Detroit, Kishel noted. As for the customer base, “People don’t want to see any reduction in services,” he said, “and they want to keep the Wilkes-Barre postmark.”
The Wilkes-Barre City Council unanimously approved a resolution in February that opposes “any and all efforts” to close the mail-processing facility there. And in a letter to Postmaster General John Potter, Sen. Arlen Specter (R) said that many constituents had contacted his office to seek his support in keeping the facility open.
“I urge you to weigh heavily the needs and welfare of the Wilkes-Barre community,” Specter wrote. “At a time when our nation faces record unemployment rates, it is vital to consider the impact of potential job losses on the Wilkes-Barre community.”
About 50 postal workers-union members carried signs, blew whistles and shouted slogans on Feb. 19 outside the City of Industry (CA) P&DC. The USPS is conducting an Area Mail Processing (AMP) study there that could result in some operations transferring 30 miles away to a facility in Santa Ana or more than 50 miles away to Santa Clarita.
Moving operations or closing the Industry plant would be very disruptive, APWU NBA James Scoggins told the local press. “It not only would affect employees, but their families and businesses in the surrounding community.”
Approximately 14,000 area residents have signed petitions protesting the move, and on Feb. 17, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) issued a press release and wrote to the USPS in which he acknowledged the residents’ views.
“I have several concerns about the impact of the proposed consolidation on my constituents and the process through which the consolidation was proposed,” Buchanan wrote. “Before beginning an AMP study, the USPS is supposed to ‘fully consider’ the local impact on the community and jobs.”
Buchanan noted that the Manasota P&DC is one of the best performing mail-distribution centers in the country and that it consistently out-performs the Tampa facility.
“I have heard from local leaders and elected officials who share my concerns,” he said in the letter to the Postal Service. “I urge the USPS to reject the proposed consolidation.”