KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — If you thought mail delivery was already a problem, it may become even more of a concern come next year.
The United States Postal Service wants to make changes to services across Southwest Michigan. That could impact how soon you get your mail.
“I find this to be very inefficient and not very cost effective for our citizens because they’re going to pick up the tab at the end of the day,” Kalamazoo County Commissioner Jeff Heppler said.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, joined with local and state leaders including the mayor of Kalamazoo and Portage on Monday morning to criticize the plan.
USPS will begin consolidating operations at locations across the country into a sorting and delivery center. It will impact carriers who operate out of some facilities in Kalamazoo, Van Buren, St. Joseph and Allegan counties.
Twenty-one locations in Southwest Michigan will merge into one location for postal and dispatch operations. That facility is located on South 9th Street in Oshtemo.
“They will require the carriers within a number of counties to all travel to one stop. If you live in Climax or Augusta and you’re a carrier in your home community you’re going to be asked to drive to Oshtemo,” Upton said.
Currently, carriers go to their local delivery office to begin and end their day but if the plan moves forward they will instead have to drive to and from Oshtemo to pick up their trucks and then deliver the mail.
For some drivers, that could mean an hour round trip per day. Upton believes the change will become a costly burden at a time when the country is enduring high inflation.
“You’re going to be filling up twice a week just to go to work,” he said.
Leaders say it’s going to hurt morale.
“Front-line management and front-line employees are overworked now. The demands on them are crazy,” Michigan Area Vice President for National Association of Postal Supervisors Kevin Trayer said.
Upton added, “They may not want to work. They may say, ‘I’m going to just do something else.'”
The group also raised concerns about how travel would be impacted by the number of trucks that would fill the street in and around the facility, noting how this may cause traffic accidents.
“They’re not going to get 250 carriers on that street between 9 a.m. and 9:30 without an act of God. Trust me,” Trayer said.
According to the plan, USPS believes the consolidation efforts will improve customer service, conditions for employees and reduce transportation and mail handling costs.
Portage Mayor Patricia Randall believes otherwise, saying it’s only going to impact when people get their mail.
“We were not happy when our sorting went up to the Grand Rapids facility. It did delay mail. We in Portage depend on the mail to deliver our local newsletter which is produced monthly,” she said. “Eighty-four percent of our residents get their information from this newsletter, which is delivered via the mail service. It doesn’t matter what we do with our social media, this is the most effective way of reaching our taxpayers.”
Upton is calling on citizens to write a letter to Postmaster General Louis Joy to oppose consolidation plan.
“This proposal is either stamped ‘approved’ or stamped ‘disapproved,’ we need to get the local supporters to weigh in as well so resolutions and letters before this becomes in cement before it becomes final,” Upton said.
If the the plan is not shut down, leaders expect it to take effect in June.