Delayed delivery: Eureka mail processing facility still slated to close

As the U.S. Postal Service moves forward with its plan to consolidate mail processing facilities nationwide, local representatives spoke out against a plan today that would result in mail from the Eureka area being sorted in Medford, Ore., starting sometime next year.

"In 2011, we opposed this same consolidation proposal because we knew then that such a proposal would hurt the local economy and be detrimental to mail delivery in the region," U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) wrote in a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahue. "We are again opposing this misguided consolidation as a means to solve the USPS financial crisis. It is our understanding that this decision will result in the loss of hundreds of postal staff positions, and our constituents will face a 2 to 3 day service standard for First-Class Mail, instead of 1 to 3 days. This change would be especially difficult for seniors, veterans, and our rural communities, who rely on timely delivery of prescriptions and other postal services."

U.S. Postal Service spokesman James Wigdel said no one from the Eureka facility will lose their job.

"If there are positions that are eliminated, we will find other jobs for our employees, but nobody will be laid off because of this," Wigdel said.

Possible delays depend on where the mail is coming from, according to Wigdel.

"It's too early to tell how much of a delay, if any, for overnight deliveries," he said. "But two- or three-day mail should not be affected."

Wigdel said it's a bit early to tell how people might be impacted by the change, which is at least six months away.

"There shouldn't be that big of an impact on folks in the Eureka area," he said. "We will still have a post office in Eureka, probably in the same location. However, mail will be processed in Medford, Ore., as we proposed a couple of years ago."

The consolidations and closures are the Postal Services's response to a 25 percent decline in first-class mail deliveries since 2006.

"We have so much less mail volume than we did several years ago, what we're looking at doing is consolidating several mail processing facilities around the country," Wigdel said.

The Eureka operation is among 82 mail processing plants scheduled to close, the Postal Service announced Monday, as the government moves forward with the final phase of its nationwide consolidation plan.

In 2012 and 2013, the Postal Service consolidated 141 mail processing facilities, which the government says saved it approximately $885 million, Donahue said.

Wigdel said postal services, products, PO box services and access to retail will not change. The only change will be where the mail is processed.

He said Medford was selected because it is a "reasonably close-by plant."

Under the plan, mail will be trucked 194 miles away to Medford for sorting, according to the Postal Service. Anything being sent to Eureka will be brought back to Eureka for delivery. Mail going elsewhere will be distributed from Medford.

Eureka is one of four mail processing facilities in California slated for consolidation for the final phase. The others are in Redding, Petaluma and City of Industry.

The consolidations will resume in January, and the process is expected to be complete by fall 2015.

The Redding Record Searchlight contributed to this report.

Contact Lorna Rodriguez at 441-0506.

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