After Postmaster General Louis DeJoy revealed his 10-year-plan, “Delivering for America” in 2021, many labor unions, locals and government officials have been fighting back. They fear for the future of the postal service.
At a recent S&DC Town Hall meeting at Teamster’s Hall in Rock Tavern, many locals, government officials, American Postal Workers Union (APWU) members, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) members, postal workers and more gathered to learn about upcoming changes to the United States Postal Services. This comes in accordance with “Delivering for America,” a 10-year-plan aimed to reduce costs and create financial stability, offer better service and make postal services more modern. According to the United States Postal Service USPS website, “Delivering for America established clear and precise strategies to end years of mounting losses, reverse a projected $160 billion in losses over 10 years and build an operation that is high performing and financially self-sustaining.”
When word got out that the creation of sorting and delivery centers (S&DC) could potentially close local post offices, USPS denied that this was the case.
“As new S&DCs are opened, customers will see no changes to their local Post Office retail operations. No Post Offices will be closed and PO Box delivery will remain unchanged,” stated Mark Lawrence, Strategic Communications Specialist for the United States Postal Service in an email a few months ago to the paper. In a second year project report dated April 2023, the USPS is still sticking to this word.
Under the plan, the General Mail Facility at 97 Enterprise Drive in the Town of Newburgh would become one of those S&DCs. Letter carriers would report there to pick up the mail they would be delivering on their daily route. Postal officials have insisted that other services would still be available at local post offices, including mailing of packages, box rentals and the purchasing of stamps and other postal products.
According to members of the APWU Mid Hudson Area, areas affected by newly instated S&DC centers in September 2023 would be Newburgh, Cornwall, Cornwall on Hudson, Clintondale, Maybrook, Salisbury Mills, Rock Tavern, Wallkill and Beacon. Later, in February 2024, sorting would be shifted away from Walden, Modena, Montgomery and Fishkill.
Places that are currently “on hold” are Wappingers Falls, New Paltz and Pine Bush.
“To put it simply, many fear the decline in USPS service because of these S&DC hubs, which will then lead to a decline in business, and further, post office closures,” said Diana Cline, president of the Mid Hudson Chapter of the APWU. “Imagine 119 carriers driving on 17K or the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in all kinds of weather. That’s not what those trucks are made for. That’s a safety issue not just for the carriers but for the public.”
Cline also warned of confusion for the carriers reporting to the sorting facility, rather than their local post office.
“The carrier cases don’t have names on them, they only have addresses,” Cline said. “They’re not gonna know who lives there or whose mail is supposed to go there. They’re not gonna know, ‘Oh, there’s a special area over here where their kids play.’ They’re not gonna have any idea what the whole area will look like or what kind of neighborhood it is.”
One of the post offices reportedly targeted for this transition in September would be the Newburgh Post Office on Liberty Street. Union leaders say clerk positions will be eliminated.
“Thirty-seven carriers they’re going to take out of there, and right now there’s seven or eight clerks. They’re going to leave one clerk all day,” Cline said, insinuating that this would equal the removal of around 45-50 people from that building.“But if they take 50 people out of there, are they going to keep that building? Think they’re going to keep a large office with one person working there all day? No,” Cline said.
Congressman Pat Ryan also showed up to the meeting, stating that he was against the upcoming changes.
“This will hurt every single constituent of mine and every neighbor of ours in the Hudson Valley who will be under threat of less quality service and less access to life saving prescriptions that are delivered via mail,” said Ryan.
He also mentioned that he drafted a letter on behalf of the whole community to send to DeJoy, stating that the proposal is unacceptable. Meeting attendees were also encouraged to fill out petitions that would be sent back to Ryan’s office.
Debby Szeredy, Vice President for the APWU, commuted from Washington to be at the meeting.
“We really do need a lot of help. We are desperate at this point,´ Szeredy said. “This is the time to really stand strong because we cannot lose the post office. It’s a constitutional right [and] we’re in the Constitution.”
After a brief Q&A, many members of the public seemed to agree that they needed to fight back and protest against these changes. Cline, who stated the APWU’s intent to speak at local town and village board meetings, demanded that there should be studies done.
“We need the studies done,” says Cline. “We need this man to be able to put it in writing. How is this gonna work? Where are you saving the money that you’re saying you’re saving, because there’s just no way unless you’re going to sell these buildings?”