By Josh Sigler – April 14, 2015
The United States Postal Service’s Kokomo processing plant was initially slated to have its operations consolidated with the Indianapolis procession operations in March.
That corporate reshuffling actually took place on April 4, and since that time, postal workers and union executives say they’ve seen their workloads skyrocket even though mail is no longer sorted at the Kokomo facility on South Webster Street.
Local mail is now sent to Indianapolis for sorting before it makes its way back to cities like Kokomo and Peru under the new format. Kokomo Consolidation Coalition team leader Nancy Fowler is told daily by members of the public how much the mail delivery service has slowed in recent weeks.
And with another processing plant based in Lafayette set to consolidate operations into Indianapolis soon, the delivery times for mail could become even worse, they fear.
Even though the mail processing features are no longer executed in Kokomo and 65 fewer employees now work at the Kokomo facility because they’ve moved or commute to Indianapolis, full utilities are still being paid to keep the South Webster Street facility up and running because the building still serves as a post office. Only one sorting apparatus has been removed from the facility so far.
“What kind of cost saving measures are they accomplishing?” Kokomo Area Local president Patti Orndorff said. “We’re trying to figure that out because they’re doing extra truck runs that they didn’t have before when we were doing the mail. All the people that were here have jobs, now they’re just traveling an hour and a half to go to work. So, they didn’t save any wages. We have three more trucks that run mail every night to Indy. We’re not saving on transportation. We’re not saving on anything that we can see. And, the mail is slower.”
“Some people in Greentown are receiving coupons in the mail that have already expired by the time they make their way to residential mailboxes,” she added. “And, sometimes out of town newspapers are getting to their customers as much as 10 days late.”
It’s taken an emotional toll on Orndorff as she’s seen peoples’ livelihoods uprooted and the stress associated with the uncertainty affect their quality of life.
“I think the whole week everyone was leaving or choosing to retire instead of leave, there was a lot of crying in here,” Orndorff said. “Even the ones that don’t get along, we’re family. Some of us have worked together for 25 or 30 years.”
“It’s not good. People are angry,” she added. “Even the ones that are still here are angry. The ones that are going are angry. And, it’s because we don’t see better efficiency than we had before. The efficiency isn’t there. The mail is a mess.”
Today is the deadline to file income taxes, and for those who still mail in their forms, delays on receiving their refund checks in the mail can be expected, they said.
“To get your refund, we know from the past that when they go from one part of Kokomo to another part of [the state] it can take a week,” Orndorff said. “So you can imagine how long it might take to come from Pennsylvania or Washington D.C., Chicago – wherever they’re coming from.”
Attempts to contact the United States Postal Service seeking comment were not successful.