USPS outlines plans for new sorting and delivery centers
By Bill McAllister
Postal unions have been given a first glimpse of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan for reshaping mail deliveries.
The unions and associations were shown a list of the first 10 “sorting and delivery centers” that DeJoy wants to create as part of his 10-year Delivering for America plan for the United States Postal Service.
Those centers were supposed to become operational Aug. 27, according to the initial plans, but only the site in Athens, Ga., was said to be ready to make the transition then, according to an Aug. 16 memo from the National Association of Postal Supervisors.
A USPS slide presentation posted online by the United Postmasters and Managers of America said the USPS believes three of the proposed sorting and delivery centers could be operational before the start of the 2022 elections and peak mail season.
In addition to Athens, the other first sites were said to be in Bryan, Texas, and Newburgh, N.Y.
However, the National Association of Postal Supervisors said in a memo to its board that the USPS has decided to delay implementation “until after election season, peak season or when all aspects of the operation will allow, whichever is later.”
The Athens site is scheduled for “full implementation in late September,” the Association said.
“The purpose of creating S&DC’s [sorting and delivery centers] is to reduce transportation and mail handling costs, as well as provide postal customers with additional services,” said James Lloyd, the USPS acting director of labor relations policies and programs, in a July 29 letter to the United Postmasters and Managers of America.
Lloyd said the new centers should provide “easier standardization and management of operations while improving building and operating conditions for employees.”
Postal officials have disclosed few specifics about DeJoy’s plans except to say the initial target cities for key, new regional mail-processing centers are Atlanta, Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C. Reducing transportation costs has been one of his major goals.
The USPS slide presentation said studies of Atlanta indicate it has the potential to have eight sorting and delivery centers, and Indianapolis has the potential for two centers. There was no projection for the Charlotte area.
DeJoy’s idea is to decrease the number of mail-processing plants in large metropolitan areas and get the mail to delivery units as quickly as possible.
What the list seems to indicate is that the Postal Service has unused space in many of its shuttered processing plants.
DeJoy’s plans call for basing letter carriers in the vacant areas of the plants, thus reducing the number of places that carriers make final preparations before hitting their routes.
According to the list, the first 10 sorting and delivery sites are Mid Hudson Processing and Distribution Center, Newburgh, N.Y.; Utica Processing and Distribution Center, Utica, N.Y.; Southeastern Processing and Distribution Center, Wayne, Pa.; Kalamazoo Processing and Distribution Center, Kalamazoo, Mich.;
Gainesville Processing and Distribution Facility, Gainesville, Fla.; Athens Processing and Distribution Center/Main Post Office, Athens, Ga.; Columbus Main Post Office, Columbus, Ohio; Northpark Station, Topeka, Kan.; New Castle Processing and Distribution Facility, New Castle, Pa.; and Bryan Processing and Distribution Center, Bryan, Texas.
In disclosing the plan, the National Association of Postal Supervisors said, “It is our expectation that the implementation of the S&DC’s, which is part of the Postal Service’s 10-year plan will allow postmasters the ability to reconnect with the community they serve, therefore reestablishing the prestige of the position.”
“Also,” the association added that it “expects and will advocate for no movement of supervisory and other managerial personnel until these new facilities are properly level set to the new processing operations.”
Kimberly A. Frum, a USPS spokeswoman, provided the following comments to Linn’s Stamp News:
“Carrier operations facilities in select locations will be combined as the Postal Service explores efforts to modernize its delivery network,” she said.
“The goal of this initiative is to make significant improvements to the delivery network to better serve the American public more efficiently and effectively.
“As a result, carrier operations (often co-located with Post Offices) will shift, where feasible, to large Sorting and Delivery Centers (S&DCs). ...
“This move is part of the Delivering for America 10-year plan and will result in an improved working environment for our employees, reduce time and the cost of transportation to facilities, and will allow postal delivery routes to be revamped to make them more efficient and cost-effective.”
“We also anticipate that this strategy would enable us to utilize more battery electric vehicles, since more routes would be at the optimal length to make such vehicles operationally feasible, and since the vehicles would be originating from facilities with enhanced electricity infrastructure to support the necessary charging stations.”
“The plan will not change the locations of the Postal Service’s retail units, including PO Box service (where applicable), and will improve the Postal Service’s appeal to both small and large shippers because it will enhance our ability to reach a much broader range of businesses and consumers under our new USPS Connect suite of products.
“The Postal Service will adhere to all legal, statutory, contractual, and regulatory requirements as we evaluate a potential nationwide rollout of this initiative.”
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