Postmaster halts changes to USPS facilities, including Charleston center, till next year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy says any major changes that could be made to postal facilities across the country won’t happen now until 2025.

There have been almost 60 processing plants under a mail processing facility review including the Charleston Processing & Distribution Center. According to the United States Postal Service, the reviews are to assess if some operations should be relocated from certain facilities to more regional sites in order to “create consistency, precision and efficiency.”

In April, the USPS decided to downgrade the Charleston facility located in Southridge from a Processing and Distribution Center to a Local Processing Center. A review was conducted of the facility starting in November 2023. The Charleston P&DC was identified as a candidate facility to have operations moved out of state to Pittsburgh, PA.

The decision from DeJoy comes in response to a letter sent to him last week, signed by 26 U.S. Senators including Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin.

Louis DeJoy

The first line in the letter states: “We call on you to pause planned changes to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) processing and delivery network under the “Delivering for America” plan, until you request and receive a comprehensive Advisory Opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission to fully study the potential impacts of these changes.”

In his response letter, DeJoy said any movement will be put on hold until at least January 1, 2025. He also mentioned that he is considering a further look at the process of the mail processing facility reviews.

“I am continuing to evaluate any additional changes we have underway,” DeJoy said in the letter which can be read here

The halt also means any investments made into facilities recently will also be on hold as will the annual cost savings associated with the mail moves. DeJoy estimates the annual cost savings to be $133-$177 million and the positive investments to total around $430 million.

The news of a hold is music to the ears of Postal Workers Union Local 133 President Tim Holstein.

“We’re very excited about what Senators Capito and Manchin were able to accomplish along with the other Senators,” he said. “They all came together and requested that the Postmaster General pause some things and maybe regroup to see how to correct some deficiencies.”

What feels like a minor win now for Holstein and some union workers, a majority of them represented at the Charleston facility, there’s still an ongoing battle ahead and plenty of questions from Holstein that need answered.

“I’m optimistic in the fact of the pressure that they’ve placed on the Postmaster, but I’m realistic as well,” said Holstein.

In DeJoy’s letter, he mentioned a “pause in implementation,” which to Holstein means they are not out of the woodwork yet in their efforts of preventing these changes from continuing or happening altogether. Some postal service facilities have already undergone significant changes, including the facility in Charleston.

“Are the ones that are in process now, are they going to be halted?” Holstein asked.

That question has been relayed to representatives of the USPS for some clarity.

Tim Holstein

According to Holstein, at least four temporary employees have been let go and have not been placed back on schedule. He said they’re fighting to get them back and or compensated for missed time because they are in need of workers to sort through the mail that has been massively delayed. It’s the worst Holstein has seen it in quite some time.

“The mail backed up is probably the worst I’ve ever seen it in 27 years of service,” Holstein said.

There are still political mailers sitting in the Charleston facility too. The delay on most mail is multiple days.

Holstein claims the postal service hurried their decision to downgrade the facility in Charleston and with the loss of workers and mail being backed up at the Charleston facility, it’s also possible they’re losing business to competitors and losing the trust of some current customers.

“You’re talking about years and years of planning that takes place just to shut down one facility, transfer that mail to another facility and then ensure that those employees are contractually right in the movements of their job and they’re trying to do hundreds of facilities across the United States,” Holstein said.

“How much revenue are we losing because of this half-hazard decision that was made quickly in my opinion?” he asked.

The facility has around 800 employees and 500 of them are represented by the union.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said she and several other Senators collaborated on the letter because of what they believe could be the wrong steps taken for dozens of postal service sites in the country.

Senator Capito

“I’ve been very active with Postmaster DeJoy to make sure that he realizes not only the employment implications but also the delivery of the mail,” she said last week in a media briefing.

Sen. Capito says the jobs in Charleston are too important to lose.

“We’ve had them for a long time and I want to keep them right there at that distribution center,” said Capito. “I’ve been there and they do great work.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin also released a statement following the news of the pause.

Joe Manchin

“I’m glad Postmaster DeJoy has heeded our repeated, bipartisan calls to pause these changes to the USPS’s mail delivery network, which would jeopardize timely mail delivery in communities across West Virginia and our entire country,” said Manchin last week. “It is essential we understand the full impact of these proposed changes, especially on our hardworking postal employees, before moving forward on their implementation.”

Senators Capito and Manchin have already sent letters to Postmaster DeJoy before. A public hearing with union postal workers was also held back in February in Charleston.

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