By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Postal workers here shrugged when they learned their mail-processing facility will move to Memphis in the latest round of closures and consolidations announced Wednesday.
It seemed inevitable, many said.
The U.S. Postal Service, whose decision this week affects hundreds of facilities nationwide, has eyed Tupelo since 2009. It first wanted to move its processing operations to Grenada, then scrapped that plan and switched its sights to Memphis.
“We’ve always hoped it would be saved, but sooner or later we knew something would happen,” said Kenny Long, local president for the American Postal Workers Union.
Another employee, Patience Davis, said she knew it, too, which is why she left her processing job to become a mail carrier.
“I jumped ship,” Davis said, “because it was coming, and I knew it.”
The consolidation won’t take effect until summer or fall and is contingent upon approval of a new mail delivery standard, according to the USPS website.
Mail is processed in Tupelo at the Thomas Street branch, which handles a daily average of 100,000 pieces entering and exiting communities whose ZIP codes begin with 388. Fifty employees work in the processing department.
Consolidation will move the entire operation to Memphis and affect 16 local jobs with an estimated savings of $1.6 million. Post offices and other services will remain unchanged.
The USPS approved four consolidations in Mississippi this week: Grenada’s mail-processing operations will move to Jackson; Hattiesburg’s and Gulfport’s will move to Mobile, Ala.
Together, it will affect 77 employees and save the cash-strapped agency more than $8.7 million. It also will leave the state with just one remaining processing center – Jackson.
Nationwide, the agency approved 223 of the 264 consolidations or closures it had been studying since late last year. They’re estimated to reduce operating costs by $2.6 billion annually and affect some 35,000 employees.
The USPS has lost billions of dollars annually in the face of rapidly declining mail volume. To stay viable, the agency must restructure its business model, said Doug Kyle, USPS consumer affairs manager for the district office in Jackson.
“If you look at the numbers,” Kyle said, “it’s clear something has to change or we’re not going to have a postal service even by the end of the year.”