Proposed change in distribution has postal union out of sorts
August 8, 2006
The U.S. Postal Service and a union differ on whether a proposal to move some regional mail distribution from Glenwood Springs will result in slower delivery.Glenwood’s regional sorting facility, on Center Drive in West Glenwood, is one of 40 facilities around the country being evaluated for consolidation of operations into other facilities. Some of Glenwood’s sorting may be moved to Grand Junction under the proposal.The American Postal Workers Union warns that mail delivery could be delayed up to a week under the consolidations, and that mail collections could occur earlier in the day and deliveries later in the day.But Postal Service spokesperson Al DeSarro said no changes in Glenwood, like anywhere else, would be made unless the current level of service could be maintained.”Any decision would take into account maintaining a high standard of service for that area,” DeSarro said.The Glenwood center mainly serves ZIP codes starting with “816,” such as Glenwood, Aspen, Vail, Avon, Carbondale, Rifle and Craig.
DeSarro said under the proposal now being studied, mail originating from the 816 region but going elsewhere would be transferred to Grand Junction, which has a larger facility, more advanced automated sorting equipment, and a larger staff of maintenance technicians and other employees.Glenwood’s facility would remain open under the proposal, and continue to process all mail coming in from elsewhere around the country, DeSarro said.The facility has about 39 mail processing employees, he said.The facility, along with Glenwood’s local post office, which is located downtown, handle about 250,000 pieces of mail per day combined. DeSarro didn’t have a breakdown available, but said the regional center handles the bulk of that daily volume.
DeSarro said the Postal Service had conducted a similar study of consolidation several years ago and decided not to go forward with it. The new proposal was first announced last December.Glenwood’s is the only Colorado facility among the 40 being studied. However, late last month the Postal Service revealed that altogether, 139 centers are either now being evaluated for consolidation, or may be, including facilities in Durango and Alamosa.The postal workers union maintains that the Postal Service has kept that list secret for nearly a year, and made it public only when forced to do so in testimony before the Postal Rate Commission.”One of our big concerns in this whole thing is that the process has been so secretive,” said union spokesperson Sally Davidow. “The American public has really been excluded from this.”But DeSarro said there would be a process to allow community input before any final decisions are made.
“There’s been nothing decided yet on this and there likely will not be a decision for quite a while – I would say at least four months,” he said.Davidow said the union believes the Postal Service’s actions are being driven by big corporations that advertise by mail, such as credit card companies. These companies often presort their mailings by ZIP Code and truck it to destination post offices, and contend they shouldn’t have to pay for distribution facilities they don’t use, even though they want the benefits of accessing the Postal Service’s network, she said.DeSarro said the Postal Service’s main motivation is just to take advantage of more automation and increased efficiency to keep down the cost of handling mail.”It just makes sense. Like a lot of businesses do today, you have to cut your costs a lot more,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org