Fifty people gathered in front of the post office on
West Michigan Street in a rally to save the mail processing center. Duluth
"What do we want?" a man with a megaphone asked the crowd Wednesday. The crowd shouted, "Permanently restored services!" "When do we want it?" "Now!"
The Northland's city, state and federal officials joined members of the unions affiliated with the United States Postal Service in calling for the mail processing center to be kept open permanently because it serves as a regional hub. The center processes mail for
and Duluth as well as the Superior , Iron Range and other parts of northern North Shore and Minnesota . Wisconsin
The closure of
's mail processing center will
affect both customers and its employees, speakers at the news conference said,
noting that the closure means mail service in northern Duluth will be substandard compared to the
Twin Cities. Minnesota
Laurie Olson, board member for the Twin Ports Postal Customer Council, spoke on behalf of
businesses, pointing out that mail
delivery time has already increased from two days to four days in some places. Duluth
"Why is the Twin Cities keeping a standard of one to two days when we have to lower our standards to days?" she asked.
Outgoing mail normally processed by
's mail processing center has been
sent to the Twin Cities for processing since April 18. Duluth
mail processing center was slated
to close April 18, but some mail sorting has remained beyond that deadline. Duluth
The Postal Service has delayed to 2016 its planned consolidations, including
's mail processing center, in the
final phase of its Network Rationalization Initiative, according to Postal
Service spokesman Peter Nowacki. Duluth
"The decision to defer the next phase of the initiative was based upon operational considerations, and was made to ensure that the Postal Service will continue to provide prompt, reliable and predictable service consistent with the published service standards, Nowacki said in a statement.
Rep. Rick Nolan said he's introducing legislation that is intended to keep the
mail processing center open
permanently. He also sent a letter to the Postmaster General Megan Brennan this
week requesting a review of the problems that could be caused by the processing
center's closure. Duluth
Duluth officials are standing with Nolan and the area's other congressional representatives in effort to keep Duluth's mail processing center open, said Daniel Fanning, Duluth's communications and policy director.
"This is a big deal for the city of
and it goes beyond Duluth ," Fanning said. Duluth
Closing the mail processing centers is "part of a deliberate plan to diminish the post office service," Nolan said. Overnight mail service is now taking three to six days due to the Postal Service's plan to consolidate its services and save money, Nolan said.
In addition, Jeff Larsen, representing the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, said that the closure will cause problems for the employees, some of whom won't be able to relocate for new jobs with the Postal Service because their spouses have jobs here, their kids are in school and they own homes.
Nolan mentioned one employee whose work day involves punching in at the Duluth processing center, traveling three hours to Eagan to work for two hours and then traveling back to Duluth to punch out.
"Now is that saving money?" Nolan asked. The crowd replied with a loud "no!"
Warren Wehmas of the National Association of Letter Carriers pointed out that the truck carrying mail to the Twin Cities to be processed needs to leave the Mount Royal Post Office before the mail carriers return and everything given to the mail carriers then sits overnight.
"To get a letter across town shouldn't take four days," Wehmas said.
> The article above was written by Lisa Kaczke, and is reprinted from the May 27, 2015 Duluth News-Tribune.