Postal Service seeks to cut jobs at Columbia's processing center

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 7:27 p.m. CDT; updated 2:31 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 20, 2013

COLUMBIA — The U.S. Postal Service will seek to eliminate 42 of the Columbia mail processing center's 138 jobs as part of the troubled agency's plan to save money.

The Postal Service says the layoffs, recommended by the Area Mail Processing feasibility study released Friday, would save Columbia's processing center $4.15 million annually.

The study was conducted as part of the Postal Service's Network Optimization Initiative, which is aimed at increasing efficiency, according to the Postal Service's website. The Columbia processing center services a wide swath of mid-Missouri, including areas as far as the Iowa state line.

“We just want to see where it makes sense to make change,” said Micki Jones, costumer relations coordinator for the Postal Service in St. Louis.

Although the study stated that customers will see no change in most services, it acknowledged local collection box pick-up times could change.

The post office will hold a public input meeting at 6:30 p.m. on April 2 at the Holiday Inn Executive Center-Columbia Mall, 2200 Interstate 70 Drive. Officials will explain the proposal and take questions from the public.

A week before the meeting, the Postal Service will post presentation materials and a summary brief on its website. Public input will become a part of the study after the meeting.

“They are still doing the study. This is not a final decision,” Jones said.

It remains unclear when workers could lose their jobs.

The Central Missouri Area Local 7065 American Postal Workers Union plans to hold alternative meetings in Columbia and Jefferson City to explain how the change will negatively affect mail service.

“We are going to spend all the funds that we have at our disposal to educate people about this problem,” Jim Marsden, president of the chapter, said.

Marsden said he believes local mail from the Columbia area will be rerouted to St. Louis for processing to bypass the understaffed Columbia facility. Mail sent within Columbia that's now delivered in one day could instead take up to three, Marsden said.

Although the study says only 42 jobs will be cut, Marsden and the union's new Facebook group, "Save mid-Missouri Mail," warns that the number could climb to 70 or that the Postal Service could completely close the Columbia facility.

“They low ball the number (of jobs lost) at first so the public doesn’t get scared,” Marsden said.

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