(September 20, 2014) FLORENCE, S.C. – People of different walks of life, bonded by one issue gathered in front of post office in Florence Saturday morning to protest the departure of the postal service’s processing facility.
“It’s a variety of trying to help save jobs and service, good service and social responsibility. It’s all in the same category,” said Jahad Allen, who was there with his mother from Columbia.
As the United States Postal Service moves towards relocating its processing operations from its Florence location, down I-20 to Columbia, many look to stand in the way of that.
“Having to move to Columbia and work and try to commute back to Florence would just not be reasonable…that’s just too far,” mentioned Nate Walker, State President for the American Postal Workers Union.
Three years ago, the USPS made the decision to make the move after studies showed that their postal service, relying solely on sales, experienced a 25 percent decline in first class mail volume over a 5 year period.
“If you mail a letter over here tomorrow it’s delivered across town. Come January, you may be able to walk from over here to across town before your letter reaches the destination over there,” explained Walker.
“If you are a veteran who gets their medicine through the mail through the VA it’s going to be delayed, if you are a lawyer who gets his check through the mail, it’s going to be delayed. The Pee Dee deserves to get their mail on time just like Charleston, Columbia and Greenville,” added Isaac Nixon, President of the Florence APWU chapter.
Nationwide, up to 82 processing facilities will close when phase II of consolidation resumes in January.
USPS expects to save the company more than $3 billion.
However, for many here, they say a dollar figure doesn’t match what will soon be erased.
“We are the most economical service for the area and if we don’t deliver than we all lose,” said Lavoris Moore, who works at the Florence office.
“It’s not about jobs; it’s about mail service in our community. It’s about the respect for the 295,” mentioned Nixon.
According to the district office in Columbia, it says no employees have been laid off as result of the consolidation.
Officials say they are properly handling employees who are impacted.
As for today’s protesters, a town hall meeting will be held October 11th at the Poyner building in Florence to further discuss the issue.