Locals, Business Owners, Elected Officials
Oppose Mail-Processing Plant Consolidations
APWU Web News Article #059-09, May 19, 2009
Business owners, elected officials, workers, and other citizens continue to speak out against USPS plans to consolidate mail-processing consolidations. APWU locals in Northern Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, and Queens, New York, have been taken the lead in protests in their areas.
The top official of a regional Chamber of Commerce released a statement May 12 expressing strong concerns about the Postal Service’s plans to consolidate mail-processing operations from the Winchester, VA, Post Office [PDF] to a P&DC near Washington Dulles International Airport — a congested area 50 miles away.
“We have heard from many businesses in the region who work everyday with client bulk mailings,” said the statement from Randy Collins, president of the Top Of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce. “This action will cost them a tremendous amount of money and time.”
Collins said that a public hearing in Winchester on April 20 was poorly attended because many local businesses did not receive notice about the meeting, or heard about it too late.
About a week before the meeting, horn blasts and petition signatures were two ways people showed their support for Winchester APWU members, who demonstrated near the city’s main post office with signs saying, “Don’t Stamp Out Our Local Economy” and “It’s Not Just a Letter — It’s Your Life.”
“We are here to try to save mail processing here,” Winchester Local APWU President Tim Markley told the Star, a Northern Virginia daily newspaper.
“We’re a lean, mean processing machine,” that twice in the past five years has been recognized as the best “small” mail-processing plant in the U.S., he said. Markley added that that loss of a facility near the nation’s capital could be a problem if an emergency occurs, such as the anthrax terrorism attacks in 2001. “Why take away an infrastructure that is in place and functioning?”
The local union leader was quoted in the newspaper as saying that the Postal Service and local workers have the same ultimate goal, to keep the mail service viable. Consolidation has been considered twice in the past, he said, and each time the local office had processing equipment added and saw volume increase.
“The Postal Service may want to consider closing other less efficient facilities in other areas,” the Chamber of Commerce statement said, “and moving their work to Winchester.”
During two hours of picketing, the protesters gathered about 500 signatures protesting the consolidation plan. “We have a good rapport with most of our customers,” Markley said. “Public support is our greatest weapon.”
Approximately 100 picketers demonstrated in early May near the main post office in New Castle, PA, where an Area Mail Processing study [PDF] had been announced the previous month. The release of the consolidation study angered APWU New Castle Local President David Wigley: “The way I see it,” he said, “it could mean anything from taking away one tray of mail to an entire closure of the place."
The Postal Service has yet to announce when a public meeting will be held to review the proposal to move at least some mail processing operations 50 miles away to the Pittsburgh P&DC. “In addition to the service to the community being impacted,” Wigley said, “there’s a couple hundred jobs on the line.”
In agreement that pulling 200 families out of the area would be devastating to the local economy, New Castle Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo, Lawrence County Commissioner Richard DeBlasio, and Pennsylvania House Rep. Chris Sainato joined APWU members and members of other local unions in the May 8 demonstration. The informational picketing was announced at savenewcastlemail.com, where a petition drive was launched a few days earlier.
Citizens, postal workers, and elected officials criticized the Postal Service plan to move mail processing from a busy facility in Bayside, Queens [PDF] to East New York (Brooklyn). The proposal would cut 116 jobs from the Queens facility and Councilman Tony Avella (D) complained to the New York Daily News that he was never informed about the plan. “I consider that a personal insult to the City Council of New York,” he said, adding that he was demanding a “personal briefing” with USPS officials at his office.
Since late February, the Postal Service has notified the APWU of new AMP studies in Bloomington (IN) [PDF], Cape Cod [PDF], Dallas [PDF], and Western Nassau, NY [PDF]. The union also received notification that an AMP study in Plattsburgh, NY, [PDF] has been cancelled.