Postal move protests rise in Tupelo

TUPELO – Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and the City Council have adopted a resolution “vehemently opposing” any relocation of Tupelo mail-processing operations to Memphis.
Such a move would cost the city jobs, slow down mail service, and prompt residents to use alternatives to the U.S. Postal Service, Reed said Tuesday during the council meeting where he read the resolution.
In essence, Reed said, it would be a bad move for the postal service and a raw deal for Tupelo.
The resolution came just weeks after Tupelo postal workers and American Postal Workers Union members spoke at City Hall against the potential move, which is currently under study by the United States Postal Service.
Also voicing concern were U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss.
The congressmen signed a letter dated Nov. 20 saying that doing the study “during this period of economic downtown could have a negative long-term impact for the local Mississippi economy.”
USPS spokeswoman Beth Barnett told the Daily Journal last month that consolidating Tupelo mail-processing operations with those in Memphis could save money.
Consolidations have happened nationwide to counter dwindling postal business in an increasingly digital age. It’s normal practice and will not hurt Tupelo’s mail service, Barnett said.
The study started Oct. 9 and will end Wednesday.
“At that point there will be a 15-day window for the public to voice opposition,” said Thomas Street Post Office worker Patience Davis.
Davis was among postal workers who spoke out last month, saying it would take longer to send letters and hurt the economy.
They also said it ultimately would cost the USPS more money because Tupelo’s mail-processing operations are more efficient than those in Memphis; consolidation there would only make matters worse.
Customers at the Thomas Street Post Office on Wednesday generally agreed. Many said they don’t want to lose mail processing operations here and worry about the consequences.
Mail processing includes sorting, categorizing, stamping and shipping letters and packages.
“We rely heavily on the Tupelo mail service,” said William Griffin, a subcontractor from Nettleton who frequently sends letters and packages for his business. “We have to have fast access to mail services. We need it here.”
His wife, Donna Griffin, said of the tentative plan: “We greatly oppose it.”
Another customer, B.B. Baggett, said it already takes too long to get letters and that it will take even longer if mail processing moves to Memphis.
Tupelo resident Bob Fulgham said there would be more chance for lost mail. He also worries about lost jobs.
“I’m opposed to them moving it, because it’s taking jobs from us in Tupelo and moving it yonder,” Fulgham said. “But it won’t make any difference what we say. They’ll do it anyway if they want to.”
Postal workers hope otherwise. They encourage people who oppose the plan to call their elected officials and say so. They hope a large outcry will thwart a potential consolidation.
Ward 6 City Councilman Mike Byran also hopes other local governments join Tupelo in passing similar resolutions against it.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal