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Postal Union Members Fight Consolidation of Mail Distribution in Maine

Andy O’Brien
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PHOTO: APWU Maine leaders Selena Garside, (Gardiner), Jen Garland, (Scarborough), Scott Adams, (Scarborough), Meghan Zabloski, (Dover Foxcroft), Beth Hutchinson, (Sedgewick), Gary Underwood, (Peaks Island), David Glover, (Waterville).

Maine members of the American Postal Union and other postal unions are organizing and fighting back against a US Postal Service proposal that would delay mail deliveries and result in job losses at the Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center facility in Hampden.

As part of controversial Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s "Delivering for America" plan to turn a profit at the USPS, the agency is now “studying” a proposal to consolidate outgoing mail services currently provided at the Hampden facility with the Southern Maine distribution facility in Scarborough. The plan would also change the one-to three-day standard of delivery for first-class mail to a two-to three-day standard, effectively ending overnight delivery.

“This is about cost savings for them, but we’re also supposed to be about the service. We’re not just about making a profit,” said Maine State APWU President Scott Adams, who is also President of Local 458, which represents members at the Scarborough facility. “In some places it’s going to cost more to provide the service where we’re supposed to break even.”

Adams noted that the USPS has long wanted to merge the Hampden facility with the Scarborough facility. In 2012, postal unions and mail customers defeated a proposal to shift more than 100 jobs from Hampden to Scarborough.

While the USPS argues that its plan would reduce transportation costs and improve service, union leaders and Senator Susan Collins have pointed out that savings would be unlikely to materialize. Mail sent from Fort Kent to Wallagrass, ten miles away, is currently processed in Hampden, 192 miles away. It then returns the following day by truck to Wallagrass. However, under DeJoy's plan, that mail would have to be trucked all the way down to Scarborough, 322 miles from Fort Kent, and then be sent another 312 miles back to Wallagrass. 

In a letter opposing the plan to Postmaster DeJoy, Sen. Collins pointed out that the Postal Service has already struggled to maintain reliable service and that under the proposal, “residents will certainly see their local mail delayed.” Adams estimated that the plan would add at least another day to deliver mail. He noted that postal unions successfully killed a separate plan in October that would have moved the Yarmouth, North Yarmouth, Cumberland Center, Scarborough, and South Portland carriers to Portland.

“They had bad data, no answers, and no plan,” Adams told the Portland Press Herald. “This may apply in this case, as well.”

Bob Perocchi, President of APWU 536, who represents clerks and maintenance staff at the Hampden facility, said that USPS has already moved some operations from the facility and it’s already creating some delays. He said he spoke to a pharmacist in Northern Maine who was “very upset” that prescription drugs were being delivered to customers later than normal.

“The whole ten-year modernization plan, may make good business sense in highly populated metropolitan areas where they’ve got a lot of these facilities they can consolidate, but not in a state like Maine with such a large geographical area to cover," said Perocchi. "It will add to transportation costs and degrade the service. It just doesn’t make sense any way you look at it.”

The plan will likely increase positions at the Scarborough facility at the expense of the Hampden facility. Perocchi said about a dozen mail handers, clerks and maintenance employees jobs are at risk. They would be unlikely to be placed elsewhere because the union’s collective bargaining agreement states that the agency can’t relocate workers more than fifty miles away.

Perocchi said he has so far sent 20 requests for more information about the plan and received no response from the agency. This week, he filed an unfair labor practice for the agency's lack of response. According to the USPS, if it decides to issue a formal proposal to consolidate facility operations it will hold a public meeting to allow members of the local community to provide additional feedback.  

In the meantime we encourage you to submit written comments about the proposal to