SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is conducting a review of operations at the Charleston Processing and Distribution Center at Southridge Center. The review is part of “Delivering for America,” the 10-year plan to “transform the organization from one in financial and operational crisis to one that is self-sustaining and high-performing.”
President of the West Virginia American Postal Worker’s Union (APWU), Sini Melvin, said the review could result in the closure of the Charleston facility, and those operations could move to the Pittsburgh Processing and Distribution Center and the Pennwood Place Processing and Distribution Center in Pennsylvania. Melvin said the move would degrade service and increase delays.
“What once was just around the corner to get your mail is now going to be over four hours away,” Melvin said. “The Charleston plant services areas like Beckley, Princeton, and Bluefield, so now those areas are almost six hours away.”
Mail customers are already feeling the effects of continued staffing problems and the closure of the Clarksburg Processing and Distribution Center about eight years ago. The Charleston closure would only increase delays and reduce the quality of service, according to Melvin.
“The increase in delayed mail means poorer service provided to the citizens of this country,” Melvin said. “We’ve seen the approval rating of Post Office go down to 70 percent from the 90 percent range—people are not satisfied with the changes that are taking place.”
Melvin said currently, Express Delivery service is no longer guaranteed in the state, and those packages could even be subject to increased delays if the Charleston facility is closed. Unlike other states, many express deliveries go to rural areas of the state and include medicines people depend on in some cases.
“It’s not just somebody sending something at the last minute or an important legal document; this is VA medicine,” Melvin said. “The VA sends medicine out to the veterans of this state by express mail, and express packages are sitting there being delayed.”
Melvin said union members have been watching the impact of similar moves and have heard complaints as a result from postal customers. She added that the move is being considered without regard for all residents of the state.
“We’ve seen in other plants they’ve consolidated specifically into Pittsburgh, where they are now receiving their mail on a day delay because of the logistics of the situation,” Melvin said.
Melvin said the loss of jobs would be a blow to the workers and their families, but also to the Charleston community. If the plan is ratified, it would eliminate the last processing facility in the state of West Virginia.
“We’re looking at 700 jobs—700 decent union jobs—that we’re looking at losing in this state,” Melvin said. “The Post Office is effectively wiping West Virginia off the map.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito released the following statement on the matter:
“I am concerned of the news that the USPS is considering moving a distribution plant in South Charleston to Pennsylvania. While this decision is not final, I am in the process of seeking answers from USPS. My priority is making sure our hardworking West Virginians—like those that are employed by this USPS facility—have certainty, and I will do whatever I can to make sure these men and women are supported.”
Governor Justice has also sent a letter to officials with the USPS. There’s a link to the letter here.