The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 10, 2013

Mail processing center on slow road to closure

(Continued)

MANKATO —

“The Postal Service tells us we’re to plan for total consolidation by February of 2014,” he said.

The Postal Service will retain the large facility off of Third Avenue as a transportation hub and a collection point for business mail. About 32 jobs are expected to continue after February at the site, which had well over 100 employees as recently as five years ago, Rodgers said.

And the union jobs paid as much as $53,000 to a processing clerk at the top of the wage scale, according to the Postal Service.

The workers who will lose their current jobs should have the opportunity for continued Postal Service employment under union contracts.

“The Postal Service is supposed to make every effort that they can to find a job for those employees,” Rodgers said.

Along with offering early retirement incentives, the Postal Service can transfer workers to other openings as long as the new post is no more than 50 miles away. Finding other jobs for the workers in the downsizing organization isn’t always easy.

Rodgers said 15 workers from the Rochester mail-processing center, which closed in February, have not found a landing spot but continue to be paid for “doing tasks but not necessarily an assigned job.”

The Postal Service’s decision to end most operations at the Mankato facility left some shippers worried about a reduction in service quality and delivery times. While postal officials have promised that the impact will be minimal for most customers, Rodgers said workers wonder.

“There are a lot of unknowns right now and it’s a very fluid thing,” he said.

Nowacki said the Postal Service has little choice but to cut expenses wherever possible.

“As first-class mail declines, we must continue to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs by making better use of space, staffing, equipment and transportation in processing the nation’s mail,” he said.

Rodgers said Americans concerned about continued reductions in service should contact Congress, where legislation is stalled that would ease a 2006 law forcing the Postal Service to pre-fund 75 years worth of retiree health care benefits.

The law, passed by Congress when the Postal Service was especially profitable, straps it with a burden that no other public agency or private company must bear, according to postal worker unions.

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