Manchin seeks answers to on-again, off-again post offices changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he needs some answers from the U.S. Postal Service about the status of several post offices in West Virginia.

Joe Manchin

Manchin asked U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for clarification in a letter Tuesday.

“I am receiving troubling reports from West Virginians that there are numerous post office locations in my state and across the nation that are scheduled for imminent closure or significant reduction in hours and services,” Manchin wrote. “Yesterday, there were signs hung in some of these locations announcing their proposed closure with an effective date of August 22nd or August 24th. This would likely be a violation of both federal law and United States Postal Service (USPS) rules that prescribe a specific closure process which requires, at minimum, 120 days’ notice.”

Sini Melvin, the president of the Clarksburg American Postal Workers Union, said a Friday announcement to close some post offices was quickly reversed on Monday.

“They did decide to postpone the closures of the Parkersburg, Beckley and East Side station in Fairmont,” Melvin said. “While they reevaluate the situation, but it’s not permanent.”

The closures would have taken effect on Aug. 22.

Melvin said seven years ago the processing center in Clarksburg was relocated and hours of smaller locations were reduced making it much more difficult for people to do business with the USPS.

“You have small post offices like Idamay that close at noon or Farmington that closes around 2:30 p.m.,” Melvin said. “So, most people can’t get to the post offices anymore and if we keep letting them cut back we’re not going to have the post office available to the people.”

Post office locations should be accessible and convenient, according to Melvin.

“People need more than just one post office to go to in a city that size. Whether it’s location, travel issues or general crowding, and during the coronavirus we need to maintain social distancing.”

DeJoy, the newly appointed United States Postmaster General, issued a directive before the closures were announced and suggested proposed changes could save the financially struggling organization $200 million.

“This operational pivot is long overdue and today, we are talking about the first step in a journey we must take together, for the health and stability of the Postal Service,” the directive read. “The shifts will be simple, but they will be challenging as we seek to change our culture and move away from past practices previously used.”

“The Post Master General has given new directives to curtail overtime, to curtail the mail and to curtail hours and now unfortunately, the public is being impacted by these decisions,” Melvin said. “There’s been no communication with union, the employees or the communities.”

Melvin said there are plans to cut hours in Clarksburg, Weirton, Beckley and Wheeling.

While the decision to close the East Side Post Office in Fairmont is under review, hours at the Clarksburg Post Office will be reduced to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to noon for Saturday On August 22, 2020.

Similar to Clarksburg, hours will be reduced at post office locations in cities like Weston, Augusta, Berkeley Springs, Chapmanville, Fayetteville and many more.

“Not only do we need people to speak to their representatives and congressmen to stop them from curtailing hours and closing post offices but, the general practices- we need the mail to get where it’s supposed to go on time and where it should be,” Melvin said.

Manchin told DeJoy in Tuesday’s correspondence.

“In response to this letter, I request a list of all the specific changes affecting mail delivery you have directed since assuming the role of Postmaster General, including a detailed list of any and all individual post office locations that are being considered for closure. In the event that there are specific locations being considered for closure, please also provide an explanation for why and a rough timeline for when those closures might take place.”





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