Press-Republican

February 8, 2013

Plattsburgh Mail Processing Center closed

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Nineteen people lost their jobs and others were moved when the Mail Processing Center on Veterans Lane in the City of Plattsburgh closed.

U.S. Postal Service Regional spokeswoman Maureen Marion said some of the 19 positions eliminated in the closure came from retirements.

Another 13 clerks, four mail handlers, four managers and three maintenance personnel were assigned to different locations in the area, she said.

SERVICE

Most of the work will now be done at the Albany Processing and Distribution Center. Marion said the change is not expected to have a significant impact on mail delivery in this area.

“We don’t make these moves with an expectation to downgrade service. It is to reduce costs,” she said.

The Postal Service is moving toward a more strategic network of mail-processing centers, Marion said. It has or is closing 40 to 50 centers across the United States and expects to shutter about 100 more in the next year.

“We must be smart with our resources,” she said.

Marion said some letter-carrier positions could available, so some displaced workers might be able to land one of those.

“We do anything we can to hold vacancies when we know we have changes coming,” she said.

The closure had been discussed for several years. The Postal Service held meetings on the subject in Plattsburgh in 2011.

At that time, estimates showed moving Plattsburgh processing to Albany would save an estimated $3.06 million a year. Marion said that figure is now closer to $3.8 million.

‘MISSED OPPORTUNITIES’

Congressman Bill Owens was among the federal legislators who had pushed to delay the closing of Postal Service facilities last year.

“I am extremely frustrated with the Postal Service’s inability to cut costs and raise revenues and even more so that they are taking out this failure on rural communities by closing facilities like Plattsburgh’s mail-processing center,” he said by email.

“This closure comes on the heels of a recent report that the Postal Service failed to bid on federal contracts that would raise millions in new revenue. Closing rural facilities while missing opportunities to grow their business is bad management, and I find it unacceptable.”

Owens was referring to a story in the New York Times that reported the Postal Service missed a chance for up to $34 million in potential revenue during the past two years because it didn’t have the sales staff or a strategy to focus on shipping contracts with the federal government.

A report from the Postal Service’s Inspector General’s Office showed that, since 2001, 98 percent of that business went to Federal Express, United Parcel Service or other private companies.

‘CONGRESS DIDN’T ACT’

The Postal Service continues to lose billions every year. Marion said there has been a 25 percent reduction in the volume of first-class mail in the past few years.

Last year, the Senate passed a bill that would have returned $11 billion from the money the Postal Service was required to pay to cover employees’ retirement costs 75 years into the future. The agency was slated to get another $5.5 billion in the bill, and the legislation would have placed a two-year moratorium on closing facilities.

The House of Representatives refused to take action on the measure.

“While the Postal Service is not funded by Congress and operates independently, Congress has failed to pass bipartisan legislation to reform the Postal Service,” Owens said.

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com