Tag Archives: United States Postal Service

USPS threatens downsizing Whitestone facility, again


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo


The United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to ship jobs from its Whitestone processing facility as part of ongoing nationwide consolidation of its centers to stay financially afloat.

The mail service intends to consolidate up to 82 facilities, including the Queens center on 20th Avenue, beginning January 2015 to continue its plan to cut losses, which was approved in 2011. The initiative is projected to save the cash-strapped delivery service more than $3.5 billion in the next five years, according to the USPS.

There are currently 1,015 employees at the Whitestone facility, and it’s yet to be determined how many employees will be affected, a representative for the organization said.

“These cuts will be devastating for so many families already struggling to get by and it is unconscionable for the USPS to balance their books on the backs of working class New Yorkers while compromising their service for Queens residents,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, who fought the announced closure in 2012.

When the Whitestone center faced closure in 2012, the USPS planned to send hundreds of workers to a Brooklyn facility, while others would be scattered to other locations throughout the city, New Jersey or Long Island. But the organization halted the closure.

A representative from the mail service boasted the benefits of past consolidations in other areas. In 2012 and 2013, the USPS consolidated 141 mail processing facilities nationwide, which resulted in “negligible service impact, required no employee layoffs, and generated annual cost savings of about $865 million,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

“In the last three years, the Postal Service recorded financial losses of $26 billion,” the spokeswoman said. “As an organization that receives no taxpayer funds to pay for operating costs and derives all of its revenues from the sale of our products and services, the Postal Service continues to face significant financial challenges associated with the decline of First-Class Mail volume and revenue, wage and benefit inflation, increasing operating costs, as well as legislative mandates and significant debt pressures.”

But representatives from Local 300, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, said the downsizing could affect delivery times, and would be a hit to families that live near the facility, and ultimately impact the neighborhood.

“We’ve had [workers move] from the Bronx to Melville, Long Island,” said Paul Hogrogian, president of the union, as an example. “It’s very inconvenient. What used to be a 10-minute commute is now a two-hour one. People may move.”

 

 

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Pols demand post office reconsider decision to cut Saturday delivery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of USPS

After the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced last week that it was cancelling delivery of first-class mail on Saturdays, a bipartisan group of local politicians is trying to make it reconsider the decision.

The USPS is choosing to reduce service, starting the week of August 5, so that it can save an estimated $2 billion annually. But, according to a letter sent by Grace Meng and other congressmembers to Postmaster General Patrick Donahue Monday, it could actually cost the post office money.

The letter states that the Postal Service is violating “the clearly-stated intent of Congress for the last three decades to continue six-day delivery,” and that it will weaken the Post Office’s business model, negatively impacting postal employees, companies and consumers who depend on Saturday.

“Companies that rely on six-day mail delivery may opt to explore private delivery services. This could very well mean significant mail volume decreases for USPS and further financial hardship,” the letter says. “The Postal Service should look to expand rather than limit the scope of its business.”

 

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College Point mail center stays open — for now


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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While a Queens mail processing center thought its days were numbered, the once possibly doomed facility is getting a stay of execution.

The processing and distribution center, located on 20th Avenue in College Point, has over 1,000 workers and was previously expected to officially cease operations on May 14 as part of a country-wide initiative to cut costs that began in 2011.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced plans to move forward with consolidation among its network of 461 mail processing locations in phases. The first segment will lead to the closure of up to 140 locations through February of 2013. Unless the circumstances of the Postal Service change in the interim, a second and final phase, combining 89 facilities, is currently scheduled to start in February of 2014. Consolidations will mostly involve moving operations from smaller to larger facilities and no consolidating activity will occur between September and December due to the high volume of mail sent during the holiday season.

Nationwide consolidation efforts are projected to generate approximately $2.1 billion in annual cost reductions, and lead to total workforce reduction of up to 28,000 employees.

According to a representative from the USPS, employees will begin receiving notifications in the coming weeks about this initiative. Some will be reassigned to other centers, but others may not be so lucky.

But for now, Congressmember Joe Crowley applauded the USPS’s decision to keep the College Point mail processing center open.

“I am so glad the Queens Processing and Distribution Center will remain open and will continue to serve the Queens community,” said Crowley. “Closing this facility would have severely impacted businesses and residents in the community that rely on the center day in and day out. It also would have stripped away hundreds of jobs from Queens at a time when we need every job we can get.”

Prior to the moratorium, the USPS reviewed several facilities. Officials still have not made a final decision about which centers will close.

Delivered: FedEx to move to L.I.C.


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy FedEx

FedEx has found new “ground” in Long Island City.

The shipping giant is planning to close its current Maspeth facility and open a new, 14,000-square-foot FedEx Ground distribution center on Borden Avenue in L.I.C. The center, expected to be completed in the spring of 2013, will cost roughly $56 million — including land, construction and material-handling equipment.

FedEx’s investment is being planned at the same time the reportedly cash-strapped United States Postal Service announced the closure of its College Point mail sorting facility. The station will also move on to the same block FreshDirect currently inhabits — until the online grocer bolts to the Bronx in 2015.

According to FedEx Ground spokesperson David Westrick, the facility will be larger and contain more automated package sorting systems than the existing station, allowing the company to better serve the area. Westrick also said all positions will transfer over to the modernized center, which is part of the company’s plan to expand its business-to-business shipping sector.

FedEx has opened 11 new distribution centers since 2005 and has accelerated ground service by one or more days to over half the country, according to Westrick.

“The new facility is part of a nationwide network expansion to boost daily package volume capacity and further enhance the speed and service capabilities of the FedEx Ground network,” Westrick said.

The project will be developed by the North Carolina-based SunCap Property Group LLC, which will own the facility through a joint venture with Lexington Realty Trust, and lease it to FedEx. The construction of the building will be left to Aurora Contractors Inc., located in Ronkonkoma, New York.

Westrick says L.I.C. attracted FedEx as a premier location for the facility due to a wide spectrum of reasons.

“The site was chosen because of its ease of access to major highways, its proximity to customers’ distribution centers and a strong local community workforce for recruiting employees,” he said.

Dan Miner, the senior vice president of business services of the Long Island City Partnership, is happy to “welcome” FedEx to the neighborhood.
“We think L.I.C. is a large and diverse enough community to welcome residential, commercial, artistic and industrial uses,” Miner said. “So the FedEx facility fits in well with L.I.C.’s historical role as a center for industrial employment in New York City. I understand they are bringing a certain number of jobs and will be investing in the facility as well, which are good things.”

While Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer is in favor of FedEx’s move, he says he will work with the company to ensure the standard of living for residents is not jeopardized by truck traffic or other changes.

“Keeping jobs in the city is an important piece of this,” said Van Bramer. “I also think there could be some overflow and an increase in customers for some local cafes, restaurants and businesses. We want to work with FedEx to mitigate any concerns on truck traffic, but we are pleased that more and more major companies, like Jet Blue and FedEx, have chosen to make L.I.C. their homes, further underscoring this incredible renaissance that L.I.C. is having.”

[Update] Queens postal center to remain open – for now


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Elected officials joined union representatives and several community leaders to deliver a clear message to the United States Postal Service (USPS) — don’t even think about closing Queens’ distribution center.

And for now, it seems the USPS got the message.

Just days after State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Congressmember Joseph Crowley led a rally to protest the impending closure of the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Whitestone, the Postal Service acquiesced and struck a deal to freeze all postal closures until May 2012.

“This is good news for Queens, and for the country. Hundreds of families in Queens can breathe a sigh of relief, but only temporarily,” said Stavisky. “We will continue to fight for a better alternative. Revamping the Postal Service should not require laying people off and hurting local businesses.”

In a plan that Stavisky called the “wrong decision at the wrong time,” the Postal Service announced earlier this month that it would “consolidate” Queens’ distribution center with another in Brooklyn. Stavisky said that this action would force residents and businesses who patronize the facility to travel to Brooklyn’s processing center — over 13 miles and hours of traffic away.

Officials also said that closing the facility will cost Queens over 1,000 jobs in mail handling, mail carrying, clerk jobs, maintenance workers and drivers. Local businesses would also feel the pinch, as many generate business from their proximity to the plant.

“The USPS plan is flawed. Their study has been rushed and is deceiving,” Stavisky said. “We can’t afford to be hemorrhaging jobs in this economy. We need time to find alternative measures that would not be as catastrophic for Queens.”

Crowley added that taking away jobs is not the kind of Christmas present the borough was expecting, so this reprieve is a welcomed – if temporary – holiday gift.

“The simple fact is we need more jobs in Queens, not less,” said Crowley.

The American Postal Workers Union, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and several civic associations were also on hand at the December 9 rally. With the announcemnt of the closure freeze, it seems the USPS heard the calls for more public comment time.

According to those in attendance at the rally, the USPS has yet to release the contents of its feasibility study — which the Service used to determine the need for closure. But Stephen Larkin, executive vice president of the American Postal Workers Union, said the USPS is ignoring the facts.

“It’s our concern that the level of distribution of mail to Queens, specifically people who are waiting to pay bills, rent and mortgages, are going to find an increased delay,” he said.

This reprieve gives Queens elected officials more time to do the work necessary to keep postal service in Queens.

“While this decision does not mean our postal facilities are in the clear, it does allow for more time to seek alternatives to help USPS meet its financial obligations,” said Crowley. “I understand the Postal Service has a bottom line, but balancing its books on the backs of Queens’ and Bronx families is not the answer.”

Rockaway Beach post office to stay open


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently announced that the Rockaway Beach branch post office — one of thousands being reviewed nationwide for discontinuance — will remain open. Located at 9014 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, the post office branch was saved from the chopping block based on the results of an area facility study, according to the USPS.

“As with every facility study that is conducted in our area, we give a full and fair viewing to the entire package,” said Frank Calabrese, USPS district manager. “In this case, our review showed that closing this Rockaway Beach site was not an appropriate postal decision at this time. We take our service to the community seriously and believe this is the right action, in the right location, for us now.”

Astoria Post Office saved


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Congressmember Carolyn Maloney Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, District Leader Costa Constantinides and Senator Michael Gianaris (left to right) celebrate saving of Grand Station Post Office from possible closure

Patrons of the Grand Station Post Office have had their wish signed, sealed and delivered.

Following months of apprehension regarding the fate of the post office, the United States Postal Service (USPS) recently announced that Grand Station was removed from a list of branches targeted for potential closure.

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney was joined by Senator Michal Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and other community leaders of western Queens at Grand Station on October 19 for a celebratory gathering to announce the saving of the post office.

“For residents and businesses, Grand Station provides vital services,” said Maloney, who led the meeting. “I thank the Postal Service for hearing our concerns and keeping this important community institution open for business. Above all, I’d like to thank the countless residents and business owners of Astoria who spoke out to save their post office. This is really a victory for them and the entire community.”

This past summer, multiple rallies were held in objection to the USPS’ examination of Grand Station, located at 45-08 30th Avenue in Astoria.

Several community leaders also sent a letter to Post Master General Patrick Donahoe, along with petitions signed by over 1,000 residents protesting the prospective closure of the post office.

“As our neighborhood continues to grow, we cannot afford to lose important services such as those provided by the Grand Station Post Office,” said Gianaris. “I am thrilled we were able to save this community resource, particularly for our seniors who spent their lives making our neighborhood as great as it is today.”

The USPS’ investigation studied numerous qualities at 3,652 branches being targeted nationwide, including foot traffic, the number of customers compared to workers’ wages, proximity to other post offices and mail volume.

Grand Station was among the offices examined due in part to its generating only $560,392 in revenue last year, which fell just short of the USPS threshold of $600,000. Closing Grand Station would have saved the USPS $23,460 per year and forced the post office’s patrons to travel roughly half a mile to the next nearest branch.

“Grand Station is faster and very convenient for me and my family,” said Tiziana Cassella, an Astoria resident who visits Grand Station each week. “Closing it would create longer lines and a lot more headaches for everyone. I think it is ridiculous to close it . . . The government should regard what the community wants and needs. We pay our taxes, so we should keep it.”

Photo Courtesy of Congressmember Carolyn Maloney

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, District Leader Costa Constantinides and Senator Michael Gianaris (left to right) celebrate saving of Grand Station Post Office from possible closure

Hundreds Rally to Save Postal Service


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Hundreds of postal workers rallied in Bayside on Tuesday, September 27 to save the nation’s postal service and to seek support for a bill they say would pull the postal service out of its financial shortfall.

As part of a national campaign, all 435 congressional districts throughout the country united in their common cause to spread awareness about the real root of the deficit — a congressional mandate that requires the United States Postal Service (USPS) to “pre-fund 75 years worth of future retiree health benefits within just 10 years,” according to national postal unions.

According to the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the legal mandate costs the USPS $5.5 billion annually and accounts for 100 percent of the postal service’s $20 billion losses over the past four years.

“We’re asking for a little leeway to be allowed to dip into that fund to cover day to day expenses if needed or to make arrangements so there would be some cash flow,” said Trevor Stuart, president of the Mail Handlers Union branch in Flushing.

More than 200 postal workers and supporters gathered outside Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s office to spread awareness of the proposed legislation, H.R. 1351, that seeks to alleviate post office deficits.

“You’re still people on the job working to really deliver in a real substantial way for the American people,” said Ackerman, a cosponsor of the bill. “You work every single day no matter how tough the weather, six days a week – and some of you even more. Let’s keep it that way.”

Mail handler John Dreyfus told The Courier that he’s concerned for his future.

“We’re already rushing around because people have already been moved around or let go. If we have to move, I would have to work two or three times as hard. It’s just going to be a little more difficult. Something has to give here.”

Dreyfus, 58, works at the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Flushing.

Due to drastic declines in mail volume, state and nationwide, the center may be closed or consolidated, according to the USPS. It joins 255 other centers nationwide that are at risk of being shut down.

“I met a lot of good people here. I would be sad to see this facility go because I really feel like it supports a great community here,” he said.

According to the USPS, annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and is continuing to decline. Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe.

“Has the mail gotten less? Yes,” said Mark Sobel, NALC director of the Flushing branch. “Is it ready to go out of business? No.”

Flushing mail center may close


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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Due to drastic declines in mail volume, state and nationwide, the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Flushing may be closed or consolidated, according to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The center — the only one in Queens under study — is responsible for sorting and distributing mail throughout Queens. It joins 255 other centers nationwide that are at risk of being shut down.

“We have too many processing plants that are not operating at 100 percent capacity because we have no mail,” said USPS spokesperson Darleen Reid. “It doesn’t make good business for us to continue 452 facilities when we can reduce that by half and still process the mail.”

Reid said the USPS is looking to possibly consolidate its operations into the Brooklyn New York Processing and Distribution Center or the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center in Manhattan.

As far as service, only first-class mail products would be affected, Reid said.

“Right now we can get first-class mail from Queens to Brooklyn or to Manhattan in one to two days. We’re changing that nationally to two to three days,” she said.

There will be no other changes since other mail classes already follow a two to three day delivery standard, Reid said.

According to the USPS, annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and is continuing to decline. Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe.

“Mail volumes have been going down drastically since 2006 and we anticipate that our first-class mail product is never going to return to previous peak levels,” Reid said.

The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies completely on their own products and services for funding. Its main product is first-class mail, Reid said.

“As first class mail declines, so does our revenue and our revenue continues to go down. We’re facing a financial short-fall by the end of September,” she said.

USPS studies will be concluded in three months. By then, they will announce the results to the general public. At that time, mailers will be given the opportunity to comment during public meetings. Their comments will then be considered before the final decision.