Postal Service eyes cuts at Columbia, Mo., mail sorting site

Posted: Feb. 27, 2013 10:16 am Updated: Mar. 20, 2013 12:15 pm

Herald-Whig Senior Writer

Less than a month after the U.S. Postal Service closed the Quincy mail processing facility to move part of the work to Columbia, Mo., officials say they're studying whether to downsize or close the Columbia facility and move sorting to St. Louis or Kansas City.

"We have more facilities, equipment and people than we need to process a declining volume of mail," District Manager David Martin said in a release. "We have to reduce the size of our network because we are no longer receiving enough revenue to sustain its cost."

Valerie Welsch, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, confirmed that it could take four to six months to complete a review of mail processing and transportation operations. Once the study is complete, it could point the way toward closure or restructuring at Columbia.

Welsch had said last year that Columbia was chosen to take on the extra mail sorting for a large portion of Northeast Missouri because of the facility's high efficiency rating and the need to close the Quincy facility. On Tuesday, she said the Columbia site's efficiency is not a factor in the current study.

"The fact of the matter is the Postal Service is in drastic financial straights. We have to get ourselves on a sound financial footing. We have to move forward and make any restructuring efforts that we can," Welsch said.

She did not know when the decision was made to study closing of Columbia's mail processing facility.

"We found out about it last week," Welsch said.

Quincy's mail sorting facility site was closed Feb. 2, when 635 ZIP code mail sorting moved to Columbia and 634 ZIP code mail started going to St. Louis for sorting.

Quincy area mail, from the 623 ZIP code, was moved from Quincy to Springfield, Ill., last year as the first phase of eliminating the local facility.

Vaughn Harshman, president of the American Postal Workers Local 77 in Quincy, said the nation's smaller communities are being de-emphasized.

"The overall problem is that postal officials at the highest level are looking for ways to only orient the service to major metropolitan areas. Folks out in the country will only get the leftovers," Harshman said.

Fifty-two workers, 39 clerks and 13 maintenance staff, worked at the Quincy sorting facility near 42nd and Wismann Lane through the end of January. Welsch said all those workers have been reassigned. Harshman said many of the workers did not receive training because of winter storms during the past two weeks.

Columbia's mail sorting facility added 29 workers last year after it was confirmed that part of Quincy's workload would be transferred there. The Quincy closing and Columbia hirings were laid out in a plan signed by Martin.

Quincy area mail remains on a next-day delivery schedule, according to Welsch. Mail from Northeast Missouri is on a two-day delivery schedule.