Less than a month ago, the U.S. Postal Service announced it would evaluate whether to downsize Casper’s mail processing facilities to a Local Processing Unit.
Now it’s announcing 28 days later that the initial results of that study are already complete, and the data supports a business case for making that change.
A public meeting has been set for 3 p.m. Feb. 21 at Hilton Garden Inn Center in Casper to share the findings of the study with the public, and to collect public comments on the proposal.
Written public comments are also being collected through an online survey until March 7.
In a media release, the USPS stressed that the Casper Processing and Distribution Center would not be closed altogether.
It would be “modernized” and turned into what’s called a “Local Processing Center,” and would continue to be a “critical node to the unified movement of mail and packages across the regional processing and transportation ecosystem.”
The release also says the facility would offer “expanded, streamlined package processing capabilities,” as well as “new workplace amenities” for postal service employees.
Casper Downsizing Plan Mirrors Cheyenne
The Postal Service’s Casper proposal mirrors one already made for Cheyenne’s mail service, with a similar rationale.
The postal service said that moving mail from Cheyenne to Denver, and now from Casper to Billings, will make delivery of the mail more efficient and more cost-effective overall.
The changes are part of a larger $40 billion, 10-year plan to upgrade and improve the postal system across the nation called Delivering for America.
In Cheyenne, the Delivering for America plan is expected to save between $2.5 and $3.3 million annually, according to the preliminary findings of Cheyenne’s facility review. Most of that savings, between $2.2 and $2.9 million, will come from reduced transport costs, while the rest are spilt between maintenance and mail processing costs.
Initial findings for savings at Casper’s mail processing facilities have not yet been posted. They are supposed to be available at least one week prior to the public meeting at about.usps.com.
A Local Processing Unit, however, is a substantially smaller facility than a Regional Processing and Distribution Center, which is what both the Casper and Cheyenne facilities are now.
That has many people across the Cowboy State criticizing the USPS plan, which is going to leave Wyoming without a major mail processing center.
Rural Communities Will Hurt The Most
Among the critics of the USPS plans is Robert Jacknitsky, Wyoming state representative for NPMHU Local 321.
“I feel it is important for Wyoming residents too understand that it will take longer to receive their mail,” he told Cowboy State Daily in an email. “I’m willing to bet that the postal reps gave you statements that delivery will not change, or there will be minimal changes. But at no time did they say that this will improve service for Wyoming, because it will not.”
Weekslong postal delays in Houston, where the Delivering For America Plan has recently been rolled out, have already caught the attention of congressional lawmakers, who are demanding answers about the problems there and what’s being done to fix them.
Postal Service officials have blamed equipment and transition failures in a letter to Congress, as well as severe winter storms. But initially, USPS told Congress that all packages were being processed as received.
It was not until after a public outcry about problems with mail that the wording shifted and some “challenges” with new equipment, employee attendance and winter weather were acknowledged.
Numbers Way Off
Ricci Roberts, branch president of the Cheyenne mail handling unit, has been following postal system’s Delivering for America changes in Provo, Utah, to better understand how the proposed changes are likely to affect postal employees and customers in the Cowboy State.
What caught her eye is what’s really happening with employee layoffs versus what’s being said in the USPS proposals, which say there won’t be any career layoffs.
In Provo, the USPS had estimated it would lose eight “craft” employees. But when Roberts looked into it, the number of people whose jobs were affected was 51.
“What I found out they did there is they excessed, or got rid of, 51 people,” Roberts told Cowboy State Daily. “So, they were able to relocate 43 of them. So the 51 minus 43 is eight, and so that is how they came up with that number.”
In Cheyenne, the number of “craft” employees lost was initially four. That has since been updated to seven.
The number of “craft” employees lost at the Casper facility won’t be available until the initial findings are posted, according to USPS spokesman Dennis Boxrud.
“We don’t have any estimate on any potential internal employee job changes,” he told Cowboy State Daily in an email. “But there will be no layoffs.”
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.