The US Postal Service’s proposal to move processing operations from Johnson City’s Customer Service Mail Processing Center at 530 E. Main St. to Knoxville is moving along a procedural path that now includes an upcoming public meeting.
A local feasibility study regarding the consolidation of mail processing operations with Knoxville is under way, and the public meeting is the next step in the process. The postal service is holding the meeting to explain the proposed operational changes and potential impacts on service, and to solicit public feedback which will then be considered before a final decision is made. The USPS will hold the public meeting in Johnson City from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 8 in the D.P. Culp Center at East Tennessee State University, 807 University Parkway.
Should the consolidation happen, 33 employees would be affected, according to a Nov. 22 release, which includes projected savings of more than $2 million. There is a collective bargaining agreement in place, and some employees may be reassigned as a result. The USPS first announced the proposal in August, and at that time it was mentioned that 63 employees would be affected.
“In Johnson City’s case, it’s the people and machines that sort the mail, and we’re not saying the facility could close,” said David Walton, a USPS corporate communications specialist.
Walton said mail would travel farther but people should expect delivery times to stay close to the same. All first-class mail should be delivered in between two to three days. Express and overnight mailings would go to Knoxville, but he said the postal service still would guarantee delivery.
“We’re looking at closing about 250 processing facilities nationwide,” he said. “We’re in this situation mainly because of the recession. More people are paying their bills online, and first-class mail has pretty much been our bread and butter.”
The “Area Mail Processing” study involves a review of the mail processing and transportation operations to determine capacity needs within the postal network in order to increase efficiency and improve productivity. The study, which is expected to be completed in early 2012, comes as the postal service faces one of the most difficult challenges in its history, according to a USPS press release.
Annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and is continuing to decline. Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same time frame.
Proposals under consideration include studying nearly 250 processing facilities for possible consolidation or closure, reducing mail processing equipment by as much as 50 percent, dramatically decreasing the nationwide transportation network, adjusting the workforce size by as many as 35,000 positions, and revising service standards for first-class mail.
Public comment will be accepted through Dec. 23. Written comments can be sent to: Manager, Consumer and Industry Contact, Tennessee District, 525 Royal Parkway, Nashville, TN 37229. Public comment will be accepted through Dec. 23. A summary of the proposal and presentation materials can be reviewed one week prior to the meeting at http://about.usps.com/steamliningoperations/area-mail-processing.htm.