New USPS Sorting Center Unduly Taxes One Town’s Mail Carriers

This is part of a continuing commentary on new centralized mail sorting centers. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy is implementing to increase distribution efficiency. Local post office carriers would drive here to pick up mail and then to their routes to deliver mail. It sounds efficient for the post office, but not so efficient for mail carriers.

Louis DeJoy has the backing of the majority of commissioners on the Board at this point in time. Two of the commissioner’s terms will end this year. Perhaps then, President Joe Biden can replace them with commissioners more friendly to the USPS. That is possible if Congress is not blocking his appointments.

Commentary: USPS sorting center unduly taxes Andover carriers,”, Bill Kolbe

Postmaster Louis De Joy plans to strip away and relocate many back-end functions, like sorting, early next year as the U.S. Postal Service seeks to consolidate some functions at larger buildings. The Andover Post Office is among the 200 affected nationwide. Under the planned arrangement, Andover postal carriers will have to travel to Woburn to pick up the sorted mail for delivery.

According to an executive of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, De Joy’s purpose for creating Sorting and Delivery Centers is to reduce transportation and mail-handling costs, while providing postal customers with additional services. The idea is that this will allow for easier standardization and management of operations, while improving building and operating conditions for employees. However, this initiative actually burdens the carriers with additional gas expenses, commuting time, and stresses on their home lives.

A majority of the Andover employees live north of the town, so they are looking at over two hours of daily commuting to and from the Woburn facility. Adding on the time traveling from Woburn to perform their Andover delivery duties results in around three extra hours a day on the roads, separate from performing their actual jobs.

According to mail carriers, the LLV’s they drive are gas-guzzling vehicles and average under 8 miles to a gallon. They are terrible in inclement weather. Mail Carriers could be put in harm’s way driving long distances during snowy or rainy weather. The additional fuel and related operational expenses, plus the wear and tear on the vehicles, preclude any sound financial reasoning or concern for the carriers’ safety, even though De Joy claims the changes will save costs on the contracted trucks that USPS hires to bring mail between various facilities.

This draconian change to the carriers’ work schedules and extra driving time also comes at a considerable cost in terms of human resource capital impacting present employee well-being and job satisfaction, as well as the ability for USPS to attract new employees and fill vacant positions.

One carrier echoed the sentiments shared by many of his colleagues:

“Let’s keep the current operations at the Andover Post Office facility. Let’s keep the great service to the local residents and let’s keep the health and well-being of our loyal letter carriers and their families in our minds.”

Dr. William Kolbe, an Andover resident, is a retired high school and college teacher, former Peace Corps volunteer in Tonga and El Salvador, and a mentor in Big Friends Little Friends. His email address is Bill Kolbe has joined the rotation of occasional columnists contributing to The Eagle-Tribune’s opinion pages.