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Postal employees rally in Wilkes-Barre to keep mail processing center on South Main Street

03.18.09

March 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Postal employees rally in Wilkes-Barre to keep mail processing center on South Main Street

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

WILKES-BARRE, February 28th- Workers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) which work at the Wilkes-Barre mail processing center on South Main Street held an information rally during the day of February 26th in front of the facility.

The workers, represented by the American Postal Workers Union (UPWU) Local 175 and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) Branch Local 308 held signs and gave out leaflets protesting the possible closing of the processing center and moving the work to a facility in Scranton.

According to John Kishel, President of Local 175, which represents 240 postal service workers that process mail including clerk personnel and maintenance workers at 24 USPS facilities including the South Main Street site, his union is mobilizing to inform the public that moving the operations from Luzerne County to Lackawanna County would delay mail delivery. Local 175 represents USPS workers employed at the Wilkes-Barre facility and surrounding communities. APWU Local 101 in Scranton represents mail processing workers employed in and around Lackawanna County. If the mail processing center is closed the workers would be able to be transferred to other USPS facilities which may include outside Pennsylvania.

The USPS announced they will conduct a five-month feasibility study that will determine if the agency should move the operation from the Wilkes-Barre site to Scranton. The USPS stated the discussion of moving the mail processing is in response to the decline in first class mail. Over the past decade, first class mail volume has declined with the use of electronic communications. The USPS stated they will ask for community input as part of their study.

The union is circulating petitions, collecting signitures which requests for the mail processing operations to remain in Wilkes-Barre. “We the undersigned residents of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding communities do not want the Postal Service to move any mail operations out of the Wilkes-Barre Processing and Distribution Facility to Scranton or any other processing centers. Such a move would affect service to customers and businesses while negatively impacting the City of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding community,” states the petition.

Mr. Kishel, a 22 year member of the union and serving as Local 175 President for the past two years, told the newspaper if the processing is moved to Scranton, the Wilkes-Barre postmark would also be lost.

Bill Smith, NPMHU Local 308 Branch President told the newspaper his union represents 45 workers employed at the South Main Street facility. Mr. Smith stated should the mail processing and distribution operations be moved to Scranton, mail that is currently being processed in Wilkes-Barre will need to be re-routed to Scranton and then back to Luzerne County for delivery, which will delay home delivery.

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