Consolidation of Florence, SC’s USPS center moves along despite opposition

FLORENCE, S.C. — The United States Postal Service continues to bleed red ink. Reform solutions vary, but none have landed on permanent fixes.

To help stem the tide, the USPS is consolidating some of its centers, including plans for the R.N. Beck main post office in Florence.

The USPS announced in 2011 that according to a study, it concluded that the Florence office would be a good case for consolidation and would save almost $4 million in annual savings.

The USPS took a step toward closure in February 2013 and moved originating mail processing operations to Columbia. The move impacted approximately 90 employees, mostly night workers. There were no layoffs due to a national negotiated collective bargaining agreement.

Florence attorney Steve Wukela Jr. is one of the residents that is against the consolidation. His law firm relies heavily on the mail. In a recent interview with the Morning News, he was asked if the mail system has gotten any better since processing was moved to Columbia.

“It sure hasn’t improved,” Wukela said. “If their goal was to make it more efficient, no, it hasn’t been. If the goal was to correct some of the problems internally, they haven’t done that either. I don’t know how it could have gotten worse.”

Wukela said there was a time several years ago when he could go pick up his business mail at 8:30 a.m., sift through it and open the doors at 9 a.m.. Now he has to wait until 10:30 a.m. to get his mail. On one occasion, it took a payment for a client from an insurance adjuster 17 days to get to Florence from Myrtle Beach. That same day he said he received 81 pieces of mail that had been postmarked over a two-week period.

“Efficiency is when you know if you put something in the mail, it will get to where it’s going,” Wukela said.

American Postal Workers Union Florence Local Chapter 2408 President Isaac Nixon said the mail service has been degraded to the point where everybody’s mail has will be affected.

“This is not just about jobs,” Nixon said. “This is about community. You are moving money out of the economy in the Pee Dee. Consolidation is a fancy way of saying they’re taking our jobs and moving them to Columbia.”

He said he is planning to meet with local officials and set up town hall meetings where the public can voice their concerns. The door is quickly closing, Nixon said, to get the Florence Processing and Distribution Center back. He said once the USPS finishes Phase 2 in January, it will be really hard to get it back.

“We need help from local politicians, but more importantly we need help from the community to come out and talk about their issues,” he said.

Another issue the APWU is taking on is the privatization of the mail. There is fear that the mail will get privatized when companies sign contracts to provide postal products and services to the public at Postal Service prices. Both Nixon and Wukela think privatization is a horrible idea.

“We are highly trained professionals,” Nixon said of postal employees. “Contract postal unit (CPU) workers aren’t trained or have the background checks we do. The security of the mail must prevail.”

Wukela added that privatizing is dangerous because the duties of the mail aren’t motivated by profit margin.

He said the framers of the Constitution held the mail service in high regard when it was drafted, quoting Article 1, Sec. 8. It names the right to establish post offices and post roads, before establishing the Supreme Court and power to declare war.

“The responsibility was more important to our forefathers than the power to declare war,” Wukela said. “It’s because they (forefathers) didn’t want to rely on private entrepreneurs for a post office. They wanted it guaranteed and a right of citizenship. Business men are good at making a profit, but they aren’t good at delivering the mail.”

Wukela added that privatizing is dangerous because the duties of the mail aren’t motivated by profit margin.

“What happens when the mail handler is a clerk working at some local retail establishment?” he said. “Where’s their loyalty? … Prompt, safe and reliable delivery is that’s important. It’s a government function.”

The United Postal Service consolidated more than 140 processing facilities nationwide from 2012 to 2013 in an effort to cut costs. The only South Carolina mail processing facility affected by the consolidation is Florence.

Phase 2 of the USPS Network Rationalization starts this January. Information provided by the USPS said 82 facilities will undergo consolidation activities impacting 15,000 employees. It said over five years, Phase 2 is expected to save $3.5 billion and will cut processing facilities by more than half nationwide.

via Consolidation of Florence’s USPS center moves along despite opposition – SCNow: News.

One thought on “Consolidation of Florence, SC’s USPS center moves along despite opposition

  1. I’m curious, are they withholding mail that is being delayed by the Phase I consolidation at the post offices they serve as well as the plant there in Florence? This is a violation of federal law. Unless the local OIG is as unwilling to investigate policy violations and crimes, perpetrated and condoned by postal management, as the Kansas City, Missouri OIG ASAC is, maybe this will be looked into.

    Go through your proper channels within the USPS and USPS OIG. If you get no result, go public. Let the public know that it is a group of rogue managers, in place at ALL levels of USPS management who are delaying your customers’ mail. DO NOT sit back and take the blame, suffering the consequences of these corrupt traitors against the public trust in silence! We are not speaking out against the United States Postal Service, we are exposing crooked saboteurs who seek to destroy it for personal gain. This fight begins with us. Trust me, no one else is going to lead this charge. Fight them… If you go down, go down scratching!

    Have prints made of this graphic and share!

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