If Tucson's mail sorting center closes, are hundreds out of work?
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Feb. 23, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucsonans and city council members fought it, but Thursday the United States Postal Service announced the Cherrybell mail sorting center would close. USPS cited the state of the economy as a factor in its decision, and the move could an economic impact of its own: lost jobs. Just how many jobs, however, in his dispute.
“Quite frankly, we can't maintain the cost of keeping those processing plants open if there's not enough mail to sustain them,” USPS Customer Relations Coordinator Rob Soler told KGUN9 News.
More than 180 centers will consolidate nationwide, affecting 35,000 employees, according to USPS. Congress could still intervene. But in Tucson just how many workers will be affected and how they'll be impacted is in question.
Councilwoman Regina Romero wrote Thursday: "Allowing this station to close means the loss of employment for over 300 workers that earn a living wage for their families and contribute to the vitality of our local economy." Councilman Richard Fimbres also cited that figure, but the Postal Service said it's more like 223 workers affected.
However, “just because a person with the Postal Service loses their position doesn't mean they lose mean employment with us,” Soler said, speaking about staff at Cherrybell and other sorting centers. "The Postal Service has a very good track record of finding employment for impacted employees elsewhere in the organization.”
"In fact," USPS wrote in a document, "the Postal Service reduced 140,000 positions in the last four years without laying off a single career employee. As a responsible employer, we are working with the unions and management associations to work through this issue." The service added a number of workers might take retirement incentives and retire. Those employees would technically not be layed off.
City council members imply the Postal Service is underestimating the impact of this closure. Friday, some plan to join Representative Raúl Grijalva at a news conference to talk about what Congress can do to keep Cherrybell open.