CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the United Postal Workers Union in Charleston hope they’ll draw a crowd for a public meeting of the Postal Service’s high ranking staff Wednesday night in Charleston.
The trouble will be the meeting is on the same night as Valentine’s Day and will make it very difficult for some to make the choice between their sweetie and catching what’s going on with the future of the U.S. Postal Service’s processing facility in South Charleston.
“This was not a day picked by the Union,” said Local 133 Vice- President Tim Holstein. “I checked with the Civic Center and the 12th and 13th were available at the exact same time, the exact same location. The Postal Service could have chosen to have it on either one of those days, but chose to have it on Valentine’s Day. We believe it’s because they don’t want the public there.”
The meeting is to gauge public opinion about the proposal for the future of the postal facility which is the last mail sorting center in West Virginia. The Postal Service has not indicated what the final plans will be, but Holstein and the union members are convinced they are planning to move the mail sorting work for mail originating from here to a facility near Pittsburgh. For Holstein, there’s a fear it will mean job losses to the local area.
“If you have a facility that processes or moves one Million pieces of mail a night, if you take 750,000 of those pieces of mail to another location, it’s simple math you’ll not need the same amount of people as you had before,” he explained.
The USPS released its initial recommendation for the center late last month.
The report said a $30 million investment would help the agency modernize the center with “state-of-the-art” equipment that would help it continue to be an important part of mail delivery.
Holstein has called the recommendations “window dressing.”
“We don’t feel the Postal Service is being completely transparent to the public. Not only to the public but the members of the postal union,” Holstein said.
The recommendation document said some of the outgoing mail currently processed in Charleston would be transferred to Pennsylvania. The USPS said the move would allow for a sorting and delivery center at the Southridge location.
Holstein and the union are hopeful there will be a large public turnout for Wednesday’s meeting. Just to try and encourage more of the public to show up, the union will stage an informational picket at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday at the downtown Charleston Post Office to spread the word about the meeting at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
“We’re wanting the people to come out and listen to what the Postal Service is saying, because once they listen, even those who don’t have inside postal knowledge, will be able to say, ‘this doesn’t make sense,'” he explained.