Indiana postal workers protest consolidation plans

Postal worker Randy Howell (foreground) holds a sign protesting the U.S. Postal Service's plans to shutter 82 mail-sorting centers across the nation, including six in Indiana, as other postal workers take part in a protest on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, outside downtown Indianapolis' mail-sorting center. The Postal Service plan would close mail-processing centers in in Fort Wayne, Gary, Kokomo, Lafayette, Muncie and South Bend. (AP Photo/Rick Callahan).

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Postal workers in four Indiana cities joined colleagues around the nation Friday in protesting the U.S. Postal Service’s plans to close dozens of mail-sorting centers, including six in Indiana.

About 40 postal workers rallied Friday in downtown Indianapolis, holding aloft signs reading “Stop Delaying America’s Mail” and shouting slogans as they marched outside the city’s main post office. Protests were also planned Friday in Gary, Kokomo and Mishawaka.

Among the Indianapolis protesters was John Triplett, president of the Indiana chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers, who said workers at the mail-sorting centers slated for closure would face long commutes or the prospect of moving to another city to work at other postal centers.

Closing the six mail-sorting centers also threatens to slow mail delivery by days, particularly in rural areas, and undermine the Postal Service’s future, Triplett said.

“These plants are needed and closing them would lead to a spiral in delayed mail that’s going to result in fewer people using the Postal Service because the service won’t be as fast,” he said.

Postal Service spokeswoman Mary Dando said the consolidation plan, which would shutter 82 mail processing centers nationwide, calls for closing mail processing centers in Fort Wayne, Gary, Kokomo, Lafayette, Muncie and South Bend. If those six locations are closed as planned, she said Indiana’s remaining mail processing centers would be in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Evansville.

Mail sorting centers in Bloomington, Terre Haute and Columbus were closed in recent years as part of the Postal Service’s response to a more than 50 percent decline in first-class mail volume over the past decade.

Dando said the Postal Service’s mail volume grew 3 percent a year from the 1970s until 2006, when that volume began falling. She said some of the mail-sorting centers are no longer needed.

“We built these big sorting centers, but now we have portions of the day when the machines aren’t operating because there’s no mail there to process. That’s why this is happening,” she said.

The consolidation plan that would shutter 82 processing centers nationwide are part of a larger plan the Postal Service said will reduce its overall operating costs by $20 billion by 2017.

In Indiana, mail currently sorted at plants in Kokomo, Lafayette and Muncie would be sent to downtown Indianapolis’ mail-sorting center once those three cities’ plants are closed.

MacLawrence Ford, who’s worked for 22 years at Indianapolis’ mail-sorting center, said closing those three mail processing centers would inevitably lead to delays in mail deliveries.

“By closing the mail plants in Kokomo and the other cities, they’ll send that mail here and it’ll be processed and put in order for the letter carriers. The reality is, it’s going to be delayed in getting to where it needs to go,” he said.

 

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