FREDERICK, MD. — A study of the U.S. Postal Service Processing and Distribution Facility in Frederick, Md., has found that consolidating its operations with a Baltimore plant could save the agency more than $4 million a year.
But area postal workers are concerned that if the move takes place, service to the 217 zip code — which includes Washington County — will suffer.
"All of this handling of the mail most assuredly will result in sacrificed service for our customers," the employees of the Frederick Post Office wrote in a letter to The Herald-Mail.
The postal service will hold a public meeting Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in Frederick to share the initial results of its study and hear public response, according to a summary of the study.
"The initial results of the study support the business case for consolidation," the summary said.
Public input is part of the consideration for a final decision.
Frederick Plant Manager Bruce Wall said the study indicates significant annual savings would come with consolidation.
The study concluded that combining Frederick's plant with Baltimore's will save about $4.2 million annually.
The Frederick plant currently processes incoming mail for local post offices in the 217, 215 and some 267 zip codes, Wall said.
Plant production has fallen significantly since last year as the postal service continues to struggle to break even, he said. The Frederick plant now processes approximately 900,000 pieces of incoming mail each day, he said.
"To give you an example, we're processing 30 percent less mail than we did a year ago," he said. "The bread and butter of the postal service, first-class mail, is in drastic decline."
As more Americans have jumped on the paperless trend, choosing online bill-paying over stamps and envelopes, the number of bills being mailed — a significant portion of daily volume — has diminished, he said.
While consolidation should save the postal service money, it would also result in a projected net decrease of about 86 positions, the summary said.
Wall said all of the Frederick plant's 190 employees would be either transferred to the Baltimore plant or to other post offices. Some of these employees live in Washington County, he said.
All the services currently available to customers from the Frederick Main Post Office would continue, the summary said.
Collection-box pickup times will not change; retail services and business mail acceptance will be the same; a local postmark will still be available for first-class mail; and delivery of mail to residences and businesses will be unchanged.
In their public letter, the postal employees said that the claims made by the study are misleading.
"The Postal Service is trying to sell us a false bill of goods," the letter stated.
"There are numerous reports across the country about the botched attempts of consolidations at other facilities," the workers wrote, citing audits by the U.S. Office of the Inspector General.
Wall said he understood the concern of the workers.
"Obviously, whenever your life is upset by your job being switched to a different location, it is cause for concern," he said.
If Frederick is consolidated with Baltimore, he said the employees could be transferred to any post office that needs workers, not just those in the local area.
"I'm putting myself out of a job, too," he said. "It's a good facility. However, it's time to move on to another job, and this study proves it."
Postal service spokeswoman Freda Sauter said in an email that the study summary and the powerpoint for Tuesday's meeting can be viewed online at: http://www.usps.com/all/amp.htm.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Public meeting to discuss a proposal to move mail-processing operations from Frederick to Baltimore.
WHERE: Frederick High School Auditorium, 650 Carroll Parkway, Frederick, Md.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m.
INFO: The move affects all 217 zip codes. Anyone who wishes to submit written comments can send them to: Consumer Affairs Manager, Baltimore District, 900 E. Fayette St., Room 109C, Baltimore, Md. 21233-9998. All comments must be postmarked by May 25.