Plans to close Lynchburg’s mail processing facility were discussed last night at Brookville High School. The public meeting held is a required part of a process taking place at over 250 mail processing facilities nationwide.
Customers rarely see the inside of mail processing plants, where mail is sorted overnight for delivery the next day. This overnight service would vanish under current plans being considered.
A similar meeting was held in Roanoke on Monday night. Some of Lynchburg’s processing operations were consolidated into Roanoke in early October.
However, if the two processing facilities are closed, all mail from both Lynchburg and Roanoke would be transported to Greensboro, North Carolina, over 100 miles away. This would make overnight mail service a thing of the past for customers in Virginia.
Earlier this year, the Charlottesville mail processing facility was closed after a similar Area Mail Processing or AMP study was done. Charlottesville’s mail is now trucked to Richmond for processing.
According to some customers and postal employees who spoke, the delays that have been seen with Charlottesville’s mail are unacceptable in Lynchburg.
Customer Michael Pace told how flyers printed for a sale at his Lynchburg and Roanoke stores were delayed in Greensboro, causing his company $15,000 in losses. Much of the standard class business mail is already processed in Greensboro.
According to Pace, if the Postal Service goes through with the plan to close Lynchburg’s and Roanoke’s facilities, “It leaves me no choice but to give less business to the Post Office.”
Pace’s comments were followed by comments from a mix of Postal employees and customers who all object to the potential closure.
The Lynchburg closure would result in 27 employees having no job opening anywhere with the Postal Service and another approximately 100 being transfered somewhere.
In Roanoke, the numbers would be higher with nearly 300 being transfered somewhere and 74 employees having no job opening anywhere.
Postal officials stated that they would adhere to the union bargaining agreements in place. The Postal Service signed the current contract with the American Postal Workers Union in May, 2011 which includes a no-layoff clause.
The future of the Postal Service is up in the air. Yesterday’s news reported that the US Postal Service had a $5.1 billion loss for fiscal year 2011 which ended September 30.
Postal employees and customers hope that the Postal Service will find a better way to shore up the company. One major cause of the losses in the Postal Service is a requirement to prefund retirement and health care costs for current and future employees up to 75 years in advance.
Congress is discussing possible changes to this law which may help the Postal Service but those changes may come too late for employees in Lynchburg and Roanoke, who may see their facilities close as early as February or March 2012.