The U.S. Postal Service held a Nov. 21 public hearing on whether to follow the recommendations of a recent study to close its the Brevard Road mail processing center in order to cut costs. The move would result in about 22 layoffs and 180 local jobs being moved away from the area. The meeting started at about 6:30 p.m. and was held on the campus of A-B Tech.
Below is an aggregation of the live Twitter coverage by Jake Frankel:
(6:41 p.m.) Huge turnout at avlusps meeting, Ferguson Auditorium at A-B Tech packed. About one-third of the crowd is employees
(photo by Jake Frankel)
Angela Curtis, USPS acting district manager, is discussing plans for the proposed “Radical Network Realignment.” The USPS is consolidating mail processing centers across the country, she says.
Curtis: The USPS was growing rapidly from 1970 to 2006, but use has been nosediving since then. The need for 1st Class mailing services has been in particular decline, she says. Regular mailings have actually been rising slightly. There’s currently 487 processing centers across the country, Curtis says. 252 facilities might be consolidated.
Arthur Helms, senior plant manager, gets boos and laughs from the crowd after telling them consolidation will improve services. He says mail trucks are running half full, transporation is second biggest cost other than employee salary. As part of consolidation, USPS wouldn’t offer next-day service for mail delivery, he says. But it would be more “efficient.” Transportation and employee costs would be cut, he says. (audience boos again)
Changes would result in 2-3 day service as standard for 1st class, says Curtis. The nearest mail processing center would be in Greenville. Changes are contingent on results of ongoing study, she says. Crowd yells out “We want to see the study!”
Curtis: The study is not complete; it will be available via FOIA requests in the future, probably in a month.
Changes would result in about 22 layoffs, and 180 local jobs being moved from the area. Many of those folks are in attendance
In the audience: Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair David Gantt, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, Commissioner Holly Jones, Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, Union leaders.
Curtis: USPS owns the Asheville building, but Greenville facility has more room for needed equipment.
In response to a question from an audience member, Curtis says: We understand a reduction in your workforce will negatively impact your community.
The mic is now open for public to comment and question, Curtis says the more jeers there are from the crowd, the less time for public comment.
Mayor Bellamy tells USPS officials City Council passed a resolution supporting the local processing center staying here.
A local small business owner says she’s very concerned about changes, says she does about $10,000 of business [annually] with the post office. She says her business relies on timely mail service.
Helms replies: You could drop your mailings off in Greenville. (Loud boos and moans)
Nelda Holder asks how steep geography in winter weather might affect local service if the center is relocated to Greenville.
Officials reply: It won’t make any difference.
Each speaker gets two minutes to talk. Crowd is told they have to be out of the building at 8 p.m. That statement is met by loud screams of dissaproval.
Local business owner who specializes in political mailings says his business would be really hurt by move to Greenville.
Attendee: The USPS problems are resulting from pre-payment of pensions to employees, not because of demand or service issues.
Commish Chair David Gantt: The county is in total agreement with the city; we will pass a resolution urging that the USPS keep the processing center here. Gantt questions a number of USPS “assumptions.” How is this going to help efficiency when you admit it’s going to increase mail times? This is about people. These people here aren’t going to be able to move their families to Greenville to keep their jobs, he says. Asks if anyone here supports the move to Greenville, no one raises their hand. I want you to look these people here in the eye and consider them when you make this decision. (huge standing applause)
Another attendee: We all know it’s the GOP agenda to make the USPS go out of business (crowd seems to agree, lots of cheers)
Curtis: That’s not what this hearing is about. The National USPS is taking steps to increase business, innovate, use the Web better.
Attendee: There are other things you can do to make the USPS more efficient; you can privatize. (Crowd boos at the notion of privatizing)
A USPS employee since 1981 steps up, says “Everyone knows this is a done deal; the center is going to Greenville; this meeting is a formality.”
Curtis counters: This is not a done deal. We’re still considering all our options.
Michele Pace Wood, Candler business owner, says: A lot of poorer people in WNC don’t have computers and email; they need the processing center here.
Parker Sloan of the Buncombe Young Democrats: The USPS is a public service, not a business. This is what happens when people vote the wrong way.
Curtis: If these changes are made, the AVL facility will go up for sale on the open market. But that revenue isn’t taken in to account when figuring out the financial savings of the move, she says.
USPS official: Thanks for your feedback. We know this issue is of grave concern to you. Hearing adjourned (8:089 p.m.)
Below is the Twitter feed from the meeting, using the hashtag #avlusps