Protesting Planned Closure Of A Mail Processing Plant
USPS Delays Shutdown – For Now
Elected officials from across Queens rallied with union leaders outside the U.S. Postal Services (USPS) Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Whitestone last Friday, Dec. 9, to protest its impending closure.
Earlier this month, the USPS announced plans to “consolidate” this distribution center with another in Brooklyn. The loss of the postal center will force Queens’ residents and businesses who patronize the facility to travel to the processing center in Brooklyn, which is over 13 miles away from the current center.
Days after the rally, the USPS agreed to delay the closure of the processing center and others across the country for five months to allow for further review.
The shuttering of this facility, according to elected officials, will cost Queens over 1,000 jobs in mail handling, mail carrying, clerk jobs, maintenance workers, and drivers. It will
-SEE POSTAL ON PG. 83- also be damaging to local businesses that generate business from their proximity to the plant, which is adjacent to highways and near airports.
Among those taking part in the protest were State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, Rep. Joseph Crowley, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, City Council Member Dan Halloran and representatives of the American Postal Workers Union, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and several civic associations.
“The USPS plan is flawed. Their study has been rushed, and is deceiving. Closure of this facility is the wrong decision at the wrong time. We can’t afford to be hemorrhaging jobs in this economy” said Stavisky. “We need time to find alternative measures that would not be as catastrophic for Queens.”
“The simple fact is we need more jobs in Queens, not less. But if the Postal Service’s proposal moves forward, that’s exactly the situation we’ll find ourselves in: over 700 hundred jobs cut from Queens,” Crowley said. “I understand the Postal Service has a bottom line, but balancing its books on the backs of Queens’ families is not the answer.”.
The elected officials and labor leaders at the event also stressed that USPS has asked for public comments on this action, but has yet to release the contents of its feasibility study. The initial estimate released by USPS of how many jobs would be lost was 725, but upon a closer look, urged by the unions affected, the Postal Service agreed that the number of jobs lost would be over 1,000.
Simanowitz, who also represents the area in which the center is located, said: “Postal customers are fed up with postage increases and declining service. Closing this facility is another reason why people are rapidly losing faith in their government to provide the essential services that keeps this community and this country moving forward. I implore the USPS to make the right decision and keep the Queens Processing and Distribution Center open.”
“Apparently the Postal Service believes it must destroy the village in order to save it. Closing this facility will cost hundreds of working people their jobs in the middle of an economic recession. And the decision was made on a timetable that makes it almost impossible for the community to speak out” added Halloran, who also represents the area.
“This center is essential to the lives of not just the 1,025 postal workers who make a living here, but also to the Queens residents who rely on the speedy delivery of mail containing checks, correspondence and even medication for seniors. If it closes, millions will have to wait longer for the parcels that make their lives possible--a mere inconvenience to some, but a real hazard to others. I understand the U.S. Postal Service is facing major budget problems, but I urge them to look for cuts elsewhere,” said City Council Member James Gennaro.
“Queens needs its own postal distribution center and we find any plans to move or re-locate mail-distribution functions elsewhere penny-wise and dollar foolish,” stated Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce “We stand with Queens elected officials, businesses and civic and community groups to demonstrate the folly of this move.”
“Closing the Queens Processing and Distribution center will not only affect the jobs of the hundreds of workers employed there, but will also affect small businesses across Queens that rely on the USPS to keep their businesses operating smoothly,” said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, “Our economy is in a rut and we need to help businesses succeed instead of putting up hurdles.”
Assemblywoman Grace Meng said: “I stand here in solidarity with my colleagues in government and the community to protest the closing the USPS Mail Processing and Distribution Center. Once again Queens is being treated like the step-child of the five boroughs. The USPS needs to wake up and realize that the closing will result not only in loss of jobs in this already tough economy but also a delay in important mail and packages such as mortgage bills and prescription drugs.”
The Queens Distribution Center services New York City’ largest geographic borough with 109 square miles, and is the second most populous, with 2.2 million people. Stavisky has started an online petition asking USPS to “Keep the Mail in Queens.” Those who wish to sign the petition can do so at www.stavisky.nysenate.gov
Stavisky also announced that she and 23 other elected officials signed and sent to the United States Postmaster General, Patrick R. Donahoe, asking that the decision to close the center be reversed.
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