Cheyenne’s outgoing mail will be sorted in Denver as USPS ‘modernizes’ postal network

By | March 29, 2024

Mar. 28—CHEYENNE — All outgoing mail from Cheyenne will be sorted in Denver moving forward amid sweeping nationwide changes at the United States Postal Service.

While the USPS says this change won’t lead to layoffs and will save taxpayers money, it does nothing to address some of the concerns that community members and postal workers expressed during a forum on the topic in December.

USPS announced the decision Thursday morning, several months after agency spokespeople held a public forum to get feedback on potential changes. The Cheyenne Processing and Distribution Center will be converted into a “local processing center” in an effort to “modernize” the USPS, according to a news release.

“Currently, the southeast corner of Wyoming mail is processed in Cheyenne and then shipped out,” James Boxrud, a strategic communications officer with USPS, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle Thursday morning. “So what’s going to happen now is all the mail is going to be sent to Denver.”

No timetable for the change – which is “under review” – has been announced, Boxrud said.

Delivery

He estimated that 10% of mail originating from Cheyenne, or mail entering the USPS system in the Cheyenne area, has a final destination in the same area. For that reason, sorting would be more efficient for the entire postal network if Cheyenne mail were sent to Denver first, Boxrud said.

While that could mean a slightly longer wait time to receive local mail, the USPS will still meet its 95% on-time delivery target, he added.

“So our standard right now is two days for first class mail, even if it’s Cheyenne to Cheyenne,” he said. “Right now, Cheyenne will probably get next day service. So it will probably be a two day delivery time for that local mail.

“That’s going to be what customers can perceive as, ‘Hey, they’re delaying my mail.’ (But) we’re still setting our standards by implementing things like this across the country. We’re improving our transportation network so the mail moves around the country a lot faster.”

The majority of people at the December event, including several USPS employees from both Cheyenne and Denver, opposed moving mail processing to Denver, which they said could have a drastic impact on timely mail delivery for rural residents of Wyoming.

At the December meeting, in addition to voicing concerns about potential job losses, one of critics’ biggest concerns was the prospect of sending packages and “original” mail to Denver for sorting.

In Thursday’s news release, USPS said the changes to the facility would “improve mail and package flow throughout the region.”

“In addition to determining that the facility will remain open and be modernized as a local processing center, the business case supports the transfer of outbound mail processing operations to Denver (processing and distribution center),” the press release said. “Currently, the majority of mail and packages are destined for the rest of the world outside the Cheyenne region.”

Jobs

The release also stated that there would be “no layoffs of career employees.”

“All reassignments to the employment departments, as well as any reduction in the number of pre-career employees, will be made in accordance with the respective collective bargaining agreements,” the press release continued. “As part of its strategy, the Postal Service is increasing package handling and shipping capacity, which may result in increased factory activity and the need for additional support in the future.”

Boxrud elaborated on this and said that no jobs will change until 2025. He could not comment on how many jobs would be shifted once the facility changes.

“There are multiple options for employees,” he said Thursday. “One of the nice things about working for a large organization like the Postal Service is that if I decide, ‘Hey, you know what, my family lives in Florida and I want to move to Florida,’ I can find a job open there Can I make a voluntary relocation?

He added that Cheyenne employees will be given priority for redeployment as the changes consolidate.

At the December meeting, employees at postal facilities in Cheyenne and Denver questioned the proposal of drastic changes without layoffs.

“When they talk about no layoffs, you’ve heard them say that a lot,” said Ricci Robert, chapter president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union in Cheyenne. “… What they call (it) is ‘overdoing’. And if employees are ‘excess’ they have the option to drive two hours to Denver or quit their job. Now if my employees work twelve hours a day , and you add another four hours to that and they lose their jobs. jobs.”

Boxrud assured the public in December that relocations could bring people to plenty of other jobs in Cheyenne, and that those who were “overdone” would not necessarily be forced to move to Denver for work.

Initially, a report prepared ahead of the December meeting said four employees would be “reassigned,” a number of USPS officials later changed to seven. Thursday’s press release made no mention of any career realignments.

The USPS also announced that once the conversion is implemented, “retail services for business mail, post offices, stations and branches are not expected to change.”

“After the Cheyenne facility is converted to an LPC (local processing center), it is expected to be able to post and ship packages, manual letters and flats. The LPC is also expected to offer express services and accept bulk and permit mail.” publication.

What it means

The changes are part of the USPS’s 10-year “Delivering for America” ​​plan to modernize the nation’s aging postal network. The project is reportedly a $40 billion project nationwide, and the changes to the Cheyenne facility will require an investment of $3.5 million, the news release said.

Overall, Boxrud told WTE why the USPS was making changes across the country, like the one in Cheyenne, and what it means for taxpayers.

“We are required by law to deliver six days (a week) across the country, which is great,” he said. ‘We want to continue that, but sometimes people don’t realize that we are also legally obliged to break even; We are not supposed to have a shortage. Tax dollars generally do not pay for the post office. It concerns the sale of our products and services. So it is a legal requirement that we must be self-sufficient.

“The last thing we want is to become a burden on taxpayers. So you know, part of these changes is to continue and make us financially stable. So we never have to turn around and end up asking the American people, or Congress, for money to operate.”

The bulk of the cost savings would come from streamlining logistics, such as transportation, and decommissioning sorting equipment in Cheyenne, he added.

The Secretary’s Concerns

Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray attended the December meeting and expressed concerns about moving mail sorting to Denver. In public statements at the time, he expressed concern about what moving mail processing to Denver would mean for ballots.

In a statement to WTE on Thursday, he shared some of those same concerns.

“I strongly disagree with the Postal Service’s decision to move mail processing from Cheyenne to Denver,” Gray wrote in an email to WTE. “As Secretary of State, I strongly oppose this proposal and filed a response in December requesting that the Postal Service withdraw the proposal as written. I am deeply concerned that processing mail from Wyoming outside the State of Wyoming delivery of all mail will be delayed.”

Gray, who oversees elections in the state, said the change concerns him, especially about election “integrity.”

“I am also concerned that this will delay the delivery of absentee ballots and otherwise hinder the integrity of the upcoming 2024 election and future elections,” his message continued. “I view these repeated and disturbing proposals to move mail processing outside the state of Wyoming as harmful to Wyoming elections and to the people of Wyoming. Wyoming mail should be processed in Wyoming.”

It is unclear whether the conversion will be completed before or after this year’s elections.

A representative for the Local 321 Colorado/Wyoming Mail Handlers Union did not return a request for comment Thursday.

Samir Knox is a criminal justice and public safety reporter for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. He can be reached by email at sknox@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3152. Follow him on X at @bySamirKnox.

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