Mail facility closure would cause job loss for region

By Sharon Wittke

In the midst of the U.S. Postal Service’s financial crisis, the Carbondale Mail Processing Center is slated to move its operations to Evansville, Ind., according to a Postal Service press release.

While the distribution center will relocate, the Carbondale post office will remain open and customers will be able to conduct business as usual.

The Postal Service announced Thursday it completed an area mail processing consolidation study that began five months ago and would move forward with a network consolidation plan that would reduce operating costs by $2.6 billion annually and result in a net savings of $2.1 billion unless Congress acts to address its financial crisis.


The Postal Service press release stated it is streamlining operations to reduce operating costs. A combination of increased electronic communications, the recession and an obligation to pre-fund retiree health benefits are causing the Postal Service to lose money.

In July 2011 Valerie Welsch, spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service Gateway District, said the volume of first-class mail has declined by 43.1 billion pieces during or in the past five years and the number of retail transactions made within a post office building itself has declined by $2 billion in the last five years.

The service relies on revenue from first-class mail delivery to sustain operations, according to the 2012 Post Service press release.

The network consolidation plan is part of an across-the-board plan to reduce costs by $20 billion by 2015, according to the press release.

Before the Postal Service can implement the consolidation plan, the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission must approve the proposal, which was submitted in December, to revise existing service standards, according to the press release.  According to the proposal, the service would eliminate overnight delivery of first-class mail.  The revised standard for first-class mail delivery time would be two to three days.

The Carbondale processing center employs 107 people, Welsch said in an email Monday. She said she was unable to project the number of lay-offs because many of the Carbondale employees will elect to move to other postal facilities or to retire.

Welsch said the Postal Service will follow the procedures detailed in negotiated contracts for employees who are represented by unions and associations. For employees not represented by unions, they will use established reduction-in-force procedures.


The earliest the Carbondale processing facility could be closed is May 19 according to a Postal Service fact sheet.  In December 2011, the Postal Service responded to a request by Congress to impose a moratorium on closing post offices and processing facilities before May 15.

The Postal Service agreed to impose the moratorium, giving Congress the opportunity to enact an alternative plan, according to its website.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said in a press release Thursday he believed the U.S. Senate is close to finding a comprehensive plan that would save jobs, cut costs and still maintain the Postal Service’s high standards.

David Walton, spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service Kentuckiana District, said a variety of criteria were used in selecting the Evansville facility for consolidated operations.

“The Postal Service looked at cost savings, transportation and logistics and capacity within the processing plant,” he said.

Walton said the Evansville center is a newer facility, and that may have been factored in the selection process.

The service projects a nation-wide reduction of 30,000 full-time and 5,000 non-career positions as a result of the mail processing center consolidation plan.

The service said it will work to find opportunities for affected employees to work at other facilities and stated that during the last four years, it reduced 140,000 positions without laying off a single career employee.

As a self-supporting government enterprise, the Postal Service reaches every address in the country – 151 million residences, businesses and post office boxes.  The service does not receive tax dollars for operating expenses, relying instead on the sale of postage stamps, products and services to fund its operations, according to its website.

Another mail processing facility in Illinois – Centralia, and two in Kentucky – Paducah and Owensboro – will also move their operations to Evansville.