JULY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News
USPS changes of mail delivery standards effecting mail
BY PAUL TUCKER
REGION, July 5th- Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, which represents mail clerks, maintenance workers and conducts clerical work, told the newspaper that the union was told by management of the United States Postal Service (USPS) that the Scranton Processing Center will not be consolidated until at least after April 30th, 2016.
The USPS announced in 2012 it would consolidate 48 mail processing centers throughout the nation including their operations in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The USPS stated the plan would save the agency nearly $1.2 billion a year.
The USPS stated around 5,000 workers would be affected by the consolidation. However, no lays-off would occur instead jobs would be “re-bid” under the labor agreement’s with the USPS and workers is some cases would need to either relocate or travel to other postal service facilities to continue to be employed by the USPS.
The Scranton mail processing center was scheduled to be consolidated with the Lehigh Valley facility on July 15th. However, the USPS delayed that action and has since notified the labor organizations involved that the Scranton facility would remain operational until next year.
Mr. Gallagher previously told the newspaper that his members were getting adjusted the best they could with their jobs being eliminated and many of them would need to do other USPS work to continue working with the agency.
APWU members will be the most effected by the merger. Mr. Gallagher stated more than half of his 180 members will need to be re-located or be re-assigned to other postal duties, such as becoming mail delivery carriers.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the USPS an effected employee could be placed within 50 miles of their current workplace.
In the May edition of the newspaper it was reported that Mr. Gallagher stated there are approximately 25 mail delivery positions currently unfilled in Scranton, 21 available in Wilkes-Barre, and 17 in Pittston, that his members could be transferred or re-assigned to those jobs. The APWU members would be required to join the letter carriers union.
The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union is the largest of the labor organizations that represent USPS employees.
The NALC has 280,000 members and represents letter carriers of the USPS across the country and was founded by Civil War veterans in 1889 and is one the oldest labor organizations in the United States.
Mr. Gallagher stated he has talked to mail customers that have noticed that it often now takes longer for mail to reach its designation because of the USPS changing the mail delivery standards. Mr. Gallagher said what the management of the USPS is doing by lowering the mail standards is to fit with their decision of closing plants and making other anti-customer changes to the agency.
The USPS began sending all out-going mail to the Lehigh Valley Processing Center in Bethlehem before being returned to the Scranton facility to be sorted for area customer delivery. In fact, this newspaper has recently experienced problems with the USPS delivery. Out-going mail has been returned by the USPS stating there was “no such address” when if fact the address was correct. The USPS “no such address” label was removed by the newspaper and put back into the out-going mail to only then be received by the address recipient.
Mr. Gallagher said he has heard numerous reports of similar issues regarding mail delivery problems. He believes the mail processing machines in the Lehigh Valley are being over-worked and simply can not handle the volume, causing delays is customer mail delivery.
Mr. Gallagher added that since the USPS changed mail delivery standards, customer complaints have increased because it now takes longer for letters and other correspondence to reach their destination.