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A Queens lawmaker is furious that the U.S. Postal Service has decided to close its College Point processing facility and move operations to its Brooklyn location unless Congress comes up with an alternate solution by mid-May.
Last week’s decision came after the USPS concluded a five-month study into consolidating processing centers around the country, but the results did not please State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone).
Stavisky, along with other elected officials, had long requested the USPS to make its study public, and blasted the mail carrier after the announcement late last week.
“They have refused my and my community’s requests for more information and more time to study the closure before executing it. This will be devastating to our neighborhood, and many of my constituents’ livelihoods will be in peril,” Stavisky said in a statement. “This is like governmental ‘Jeopardy!’ — the USPS has the answers before we’ve asked the questions.”
The USPS cannot take any actions before May 15 as part of an agreement to let Congress try and has out a solution to the carrier’s budget woes.
The facility employed about 1,000 workers. As part of the workers’ union contract, they will be offered jobs at other facilities within a 50-mile radius, according to Steven Larkin, vice president of the Flushing chapter of the American Postal Workers Union who had also called for more transparency on the part of USPS.
But a spokeswoman for USPS said in a December interview with TimesLedger Newspapers that the USPS might seek to have that portion of the contract reversed by Congress.
Specific dates for the transfer of services have not been set, but the decision to consolidate the facility comes in response to declining revenues and increasing debt.
About five months ago, the USPS began a nationwide study of sorting facilities to decide how to cut costs and the College Point facility was eyed for the chopping block.
“The decision to consolidate mail-processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure,” said Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan. “Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation.”
Out of 264 facilities studied, the USPS determined 223 of them could be consolidated as part of a plan to help the ailing mail carrier save $20 billion by 2015.
As of now, the USPS is losing billions annually after first-class mail — its main source of revenue — declined by 25 percent over the last six years. It is also required to pay its employees’ pensions up front, which comes with a yearly price tag of about $5.5 billion.
The USPS alerted the postal workers union Feb. 22 about the decision to shutter the College Point facility, according to a letter addressed to the American Postal Workers Union.
But according to the USPS, the decision is not final.
“In keeping with the terms of an agreement the Postal Service made with Congress in December, no consolidation or closing of any postal facility will occur prior to May 15, 2012, to give Congress and the administration the opportunity to enact an alternative plan. Implementation is also contingent upon the outcome of pending rule-making regarding a proposal to revise existing service standards,” the USPS said in a statement, referring to a plan to take extra time to deliver first-class mail.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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