U.S. Postal Service workers in December warned Wyomingites that both of their large distribution centers are likely to disappear under the current postal regime, and now it looks like that is happening.
The Postal Service has issued what it calls an official Mail Processing Facility Review for the Casper Processing and Distribution Center to evaluate whether it should be downsized to a Local Processing Unit, as has been proposed for Cheyenne’s Processing and Distribution Center.
If that comes about, some of Casper’s mail processing would move to Billings, Montana, while some of Cheyenne’s moves to Denver, leaving the Cowboy State with no large distribution mail centers.
The latest notice issued by the U.S. Postal Service is part of a 10-year strategic plan to “modernize” its Delivering for America program. The plan proposes to invest $40 billion into a more effective postal system, USPS officials have said.
“This investment supports our efforts to modernize the nation’s aging and outmoded network and to achieve our goal of 95% on-time delivery across all mail products,” Beau Meyer, a division manager, told Cheyenne residents during a public forum to collect public comments about the proposed Delivering for America changes there.
If the study concludes that the “best allocation of resources” is to move some functions from Casper to Billings, the notice says it’s highly unlikely that the Casper facility would close altogether.
Instead, it would be “modernized and repurposed as a Local Processing Center, a Sorting and Delivery Center, or both. A Local Processing Center is much smaller than a Processing and Distribution Center.
Job Loss Picture
Similar to the previous notice for Cheyenne, the announcement takes care to stress that the review will neither result in the facility’s closure nor layoffs for career employees.
However, employees who work for the postal system told Cheyenne residents during a public forum in November there are substantial nuances to the Postal Service’s claims in actual practice.
Ricci Roberts, who is branch president of the Cheyenne mail handling unit, has been tracking the rollout of Delivering for America in other areas, like Provo, Utah.
“Their numbers have been kind of following (Cheyenne’s),” she said at the time, pointing out that language for both Cheyenne and Provo are essentially interchangeable, “cut and paste,” from one document to the next.
Cheyenne’s study ultimately estimated the loss of four “craft” employees once it was complete.
But what exactly is a craft employee?
Roberts told Cowboy State Daily that in Provo, she found the “craft” employee loss was estimated at eight, but Provo had actually “excessed” 51 people.
“They were able to relocate 43 of them,” Roberts said. “So, the 51 minus 43 is eight, and so that’s where they came up with that number.”
Cheyenne’s estimated “craft” employee loss started out at four, but was updated during its public forum to seven.
Casper’s estimate of lost “craft” employees isn’t likely to be known until after the study is complete.
On A Fast Track
Cheyenne’s study notice was posted Nov. 8. It’s notice of public hearing to share study results and collect comments was held just 13 days later on Nov. 21.
The initial findings, meanwhile, were posted eight days later on Nov. 29.
That’s less than a month from the study notice to initial findings, suggesting changes involving the Cowboy State’s mail processing are all on a fast-track.
Whether the Casper timeline will be just as rapid is unclear at this point. The notice says public comments will be taken through Survey Monkey, but doesn’t say what the deadline for comments is.
A U.S. Postal Service representative told Cowboy State Daily it would seek an answer as to the deadline for comments as the study begins.
One notable difference between the Casper study announcement and Cheyenne’s study notice is that Casper’s is notably longer — a page and a half versus a half page for Cheyenne’s notice to proceed — and goes into more detail explaining what will happen if the conclusion is that Casper’s mail processing functions should move.
“While it may be determined that moving some mail processing operations from the Casper P&DC is a good business decision, it is highly likely under those circumstances that the Casper facility will be modernized and repurposed as a Local Processing Center, a Sorting & Delivery Center, or both,” the notice states.
That will depend on what is most consistent with the “broader network redesign outlined in the DFA Plan,” the notice goes on to state. “Any such repurposing will result in a revitalized, modernized and upgraded facility with improved employee amenities and a better working environment.”
All of the verbiage may have a familiar ring to those in Cheyenne. It’s very similar to what postal officials have used in explaining the initial study results for Cheyenne.
If the Casper public input meeting is analogous to Cheyenne’s, the forum will mainly be a chance for local residents to say what they think about the study and its conclusions.
It won’t offer many answers to questions. To date, no public forums have been set in Wyoming that focus on providing answers to public questions about the plan for the Cowboy State.
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.