The U.S. Postal Service will close its Asheville mail processing facility and move its operations to a site in Greenville, S.C., reports WLOS ABC 13.
The USPS had been considering such a move for several months, causing consternation among many local employees, elected officials and business leaders. At a Nov. 21 public hearing on the matter, USPS officials said that the move would result in at least 22 positions being discontinued and 180 jobs being moved out of Asheville.
The change was being considered as part of a national “radical network realignment” at the USPS, said Angela Curtis, district manager for the mid-Carolinas, at the hearing. The agency is in the process of reducing the number of mail processing plants nationwide from 673 (as reported in 2006) to less than 200 by 2013, she said.
To consolidate these facilities and “optimize the machines” (make them work around the clock sorting mail), the postal service will also change mailing standards: The goal of overnight first-class mail service will likely expand to a two- or three-day turnaround in Western North Carolina and across the country, she said.
At the hearing, several members of the public questioned the logic of sacrificing service standards for the sake of so-called efficiency. In addition, local business owners lamented how the changes would affect their bottom lines. Local USPS employees expressed outrage at the thought of being forced to move their families to Greenville to keep their jobs. And government officials stood up to lambast the plans, expressing strong support for the center staying here.
In the last several months, there have also been several local rallies against moving the processing facility.