Weekly Feature

2012-02-29 / Local News

Higgins vows to fight on for William Street postal facility

by PAUL OLCZAK East Aurora Editor

After months of speculation and rumors, the U.S. Postal Service announced on Feb. 23 that it will move all mail processing operations from the William Street Processing and Distribution Center to the Rochester P&DC.

Once the transfer is completed, the mail processing operation of the William Street facility will cease.

The Postal Service said there will be no change to the retail unit and Vehicle Maintenance Facility located at 1200 William St. or the Business Mail Entry Unit at 55 Monsignor Valente Drive at this time.

“The decision to consolidate mail processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure,” said Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan. “Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation.”

The Postal Service said it has experienced a 25-percent decline in first-class mail volume since 2006 and receives no tax dollars for its operations. Therefore, it relies on the sale of postage, postal products and services to stay afloat.

Specific dates have not been set for the transition. Until a specific date has been announced, residential and business mailers will continue to be served through the current facilities.

According to a statement from U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, “no facilities will be closed until after May 15.” Higgins said the fight is not yet over, despite the Postal Service’s announcement.

“The announcement of plans to proceed with consolidation of the Buffalo mail processing facility by no means concludes our hard-fought fight,” he said. “The Buffalo facility was awarded the gold standard for efficiency and cost-effectiveness, recognized by the Postal Service itself for ‘business growth opportunities.’”

Higgins thinks the facility shouldn’t be closed, but rather held up as a national model for the other facilities to try to emulate. He also accused the Postal Service of not justifying its decision, saying it “failed to provide transparency, failed to provide reason, and failed to disqualify even one argument this community put forth.”

Higgins, along with Reps. Louise Slaughter and Kathy Hochul, sent a letter calling on the speaker of the House of Representatives to bring H.R. 1351, the U.S. Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011, to the House floor for a vote. The bill currently has 228 co-sponsors, which is a majority.

A 2006 law requires the USPS to pre-fund 100 percent of its pension obligations 75 years in advance, costing the Postal Service billions of dollars each year. The bill would recalculate the pension funding, significantly easing the USPS budget strains causing drastic closings, according to a release from Higgins’ office.

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