by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVEâ€”The U.S. Postal Service has approved, at the district level, its proposal to consolidate local collection-mail processing as a cost-saving measure. However, before the change can take full effect, it still must be approved at the regional level and the Washington D.C. headquarters, postal officials said.
Meantime, postal union representatives remain concerned that the consolidation might negatively affect mail delivery and cause job loss.
The proposed consolidation announced earlier this month would cancel out the U.S. Postal Serviceâ€™s Aurora-Fox Valley distribution center as a collection-mail processing operation. All mail that typically would go through the Aurora-Fox Valley distribution center, including Sugar Groveâ€™s, would then travel through the Bedford Park, Ill., facility.
â€œBedford Park is a larger facility, and it just makes sense for them to handle the additional collection mail at this time,â€ said Jim Mruk, Great Lakes spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service. â€œThe proposal still has a ways to go, and thereâ€™s no fixed timeline for when the reviews at each level will be complete.â€
According to Mruk, the consolidation is necessary since the Aurora-Fox Valley distribution center is no longer processing a high level of collection mail because of increased electronic communication usage and a mail-volume decline inflicted by the recession.
The American Postal Workers Union members have expressed concerned that approximately 40 Aurora-Fox Valley distribution center employees possibly might lose their jobs and local mail service will decline with the consolidation.
But Mruk claims the Postal Service simply would place those 40 employees in other jobs within the company. He also said he does not expect any decrease in the quality of mail delivery as a result of the consolidation.
â€œWeâ€™re confident our customers will receive the same quality of service if the changes do take place,â€ he said. â€œWe feel this (consolidation) is in the best interest of our customers, and also in the best interest of (our companyâ€™s) job security.â€
The American Postal Workers Union leader is not entirely convinced of the Postal Serviceâ€™s assurances.
â€œTheyâ€™re saying employees wonâ€™t be impacted and thereâ€™ll be no degradation in mail service. I donâ€™t drive a postal truck, so I donâ€™t know,â€ said Jackie Engelhart, President of the American Postal Workers Unionâ€™s Northwest Illinois Area Local Chapter. â€œ(U.S. Postmaster General) John E. Potter and company donâ€™t seem to care about anything other than efficiency and penny costs.â€
Mruk said the consolidation will save the U.S.P.S. $1.5 million a year.
Bedford Park handled all mail for southern Kane County until the early 1990s, when the Postal Service built the Aurora-Fox Valley center.