Union postal workers brace for public meeting with hopes of large community response

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Union postal workers in Charleston hope their informational picket this week will result in more people attending a public meeting planned for Wednesday.

Tim Holstein, Vice President of the Postal Worker Union Local 133, tried to tell as many people as he could at the downtown Charleston Post Office Tuesday about the Valentine’s Day meeting at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Tim Holstein

“We’re trying to show the public that this meeting is taking place because multiple people do not know that it’s happening,” Holstein said.

Officials of the United States Postal Service are using the public meeting to gauge the public’s thoughts on the future of the Charleston Processing and Distribution Center in Southridge. A review by the USPS of the facility, which is the last mail sorting center in West Virginia, found that it needed multi-million dollar investments in order to stay running. The postal service said operations could potentially be moved out of state to a facility near Pittsburgh.

The USPS released its initial recommendation in late January. The report said a $30 million investment would give the agency more “state-of-the-art” equipment

Holstein said a move would be “detrimental” to the facility’s workers and for everyone who gets mail.

“We believe at a national and a local level that this will delay the mail,” said Holstein. “We feel that this is one of those things that we have to fight 100%.”

National Executive Vice President of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, Debby Szeredy thought the informational picket on Tuesday and the public meeting on Wednesday was important enough to travel to Charleston for. She said she will speak at Wednesday’s meeting as a member of the community.

“We have 59 sites right now that are going through the same thing so we have to be all in this together,” said Szeredy.

Szeredy agrees that not keeping the mail local in West Virginia would have a negative impact on the communities. A trip from Charleston to Pittsburgh is over 200 miles one way.

“You can imagine how much of a delay in processing the mail would happen,” Szeredy said.

The Executive Vice President of the union said the thought of moving operations out of Charleston make no economic sense. A proposed relocation of operations in southern Illinois had been cancelled following a public meeting. Szeredy is hoping that everything will stay put and the postal service will put off the idea of relocating the Southridge facility.

“We’re hoping in Charleston, West Virginia that this will also be cancelled,” she said. “This is really an important time to stand strong with the post office.

Wednesday’s public meeting in Charleston is scheduled to begin at 6:30.





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