A spirited meeting on Wednesday night at the Link Centre exposed Tupeloans’ raw nerves about proposed shifts in key postal operations to Memphis – with a loss of jobs in the Post Office’s local work force and claims by opponents that timely delivery will be adversely affected.
U.S. Postal Service representatives who facilitated the meeting didn’t engage in the arguments, but presented the postal service’s side of the plan that would move processing of Tupelo mail to Memphis, then return it to Tupelo for delivery.
Supporters of maintaining processing in Tupelo were the only comments offered, many of them carefully articulated citations of inadequacies in service as it exists, and others criticizing the postal service’s claims that the same level of service would be maintained with the move.
Many comments were accompanied by loud applause.
The postal service claims the move would save $181,000 in operating costs, but the loss of six jobs, based on published ranges of salaries for mail processing clerks, could cost the Northeast Mississippi economy as much as $318,000, reflecting in general nationwide salary ranges posted on the Internet search site Glassdoor.com. Using the standard conservative mutiplier of rolling over four times, $1.2 million would be lost to the region’s economy.
Job losses are legitimate concerns in every relocation, including with agencies like the postal service, which is no longer an ordinary government agency but operates as the national service.
About 48 percent of the mail processed in Tupelo is for the 388-Zip code prefix – Northeast Mississippi. It’s difficult to see how moving that processing 100 miles to a regional center in Memphis will make handling and timely delivery more efficient, or even match the current level.
Wednesday night’s meeting made fully apparent the public’s retained strong interest in postal service – delivery to residences, businesses or post office boxes. It remains the least costly way of moving printed and written information.
The precision of for-profit delivery businesses like FedEx and UPS – and the speed of the Internet – have dealt major blows to postal service volume and earnings, but most people still rely on mail delivery for important written communications.
Official opposition to the transfer was expressed by Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and Lee County Board of Supervisors member Darrell Rankin. Representatives of congressional offices also attended.
Congressional intervention and influence is important when a service as valued as mail delivery is at stake.
Postal service arguments aren’t convincing. Keep the processing in Tupelo for Northeast Mississippi.
NEMS Daily Journal