Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Postal service customers, employees object to closing Rochester facility

The crowd listens for an answer from the panel and presenter to a question asked by Minnesota Postal Workers Union President Richard Haefner during the Rochester Customer Service Mail Processing Center Area Mail Processing Public Meeting held Wednesday night November 16, 2011 at the Hill Theatre at Rochester Community and Technical College on the University of Rochester campus in Rochester, Minn.

The proposed closure of the U.S. Postal Service's Rochester Processing and Distribution Facility comes down to simple math.

"Simply put, to process less mail we need fewer facilities," said Duluth Postmaster Arby Humphrey, who told an audience of about 100 people in Rochester on Wednesday that the need for the closure is due, in part, to a 20 percent drop in first-class mail since 2006.

But that didn't make most in the crowd happy. Those at the meeting at the University Center Rochester's Hill Theater are upset about the plan's impact on delivery time and the number of jobs it would cut. The Rochester facility is one of more than 200 processing centers across the country being considered for closure. Nationwide, 35,000 jobs would be cut from the 151,000 work force.

Closing the Rochester facility and sorting that mail at the St. Paul Processing and Distribution Center would save $3.6 million, according to the postal service. However, it would also affect the 89 workers here and delay first class mail delivery by one to two days.

The decision on closing the Rochester facility is expected to be made by the end of the year.


Local impact

Ken Moen, who owns Moen Law in Rochester, estimated that 90 percent of the mail at his business is local. 

"It's counter intuitive to think that it is a cost savings to have mail that is probably going a half mile down the street be sent to St. Paul and back," he said. "The carbon footprint of that letter is getting pretty heavy."

Humphrey said the proposal would utilize trucks already going to and from St. Paul, which are currently not full, and eliminate trucks running between Rochester and La Crosse and Mankato.

And while most mail would be delayed a day in delivery, medications that are mailed would be considered priority mail and would still be processed locally and delivered within one day, Humphrey said.

Financial requirements

Richard Haefner, president of the Minnesota Postal Workers Union, questioned the financial need for consolidating. If a 2006 congressional mandate that the postal service pre-fund health benefits for the next 75 years within a decade was reduced or eliminated, the postal service be just about profitable, he asked.

"That's close to correct, yes," Humphrey said, adding that he wasn't in a position to talk about legislation.


Marcus Schmit, district director for 1st District Rep. Tim Walz, said Walz is a co-sponsor of a bill that would "help the postal service get back in the black," by changing the requirement that the postal service pre-fund health benefits.

What To Read Next
Get Local