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More than 50 people attend rally to reopen Frederick Processing and Distribution Facility

March 11, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Postal worker, Tom Dodge of Westminster, leads others in a chant during a protest outside the U.S. Postal Service sorting facility in Frederick on Sunday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

FREDERICK, Md. — “Just say ‘No delay’” and “Banks got bailed out. We got sold out” were some of the chants heard Sunday as more than 50 people attended a rally in front of the former Frederick Mail Processing and Distribution Facility to launch a campaign to reopen the mail-sorting facility.

“Incredible, even many postal service employees hesitate to depend, to depend on the postal service to deliver their important, time-sensitive personal mail,” organizer Rich Shelley told the crowd.

Organizers set up a podium on the sidewalk in front of the former mail-sorting facility and, through an external microphone, used a bullhorn perched on the podium to get their message out to the crowd.

In addition to drawing people from Western Maryland, Montgomery County, Md., and Baltimore, people from New York and Philadelphia attended the rally.

Participants also protested against delays in postal delivery, plans to close more mail-processing facilities across the country and a federal requirement that the postal service fund in advance 75 years’ worth of future retiree health benefits over a 10-year period.

The Frederick Mail Processing and Distribution Facility, at 1550 Tilco Drive south of Frederick, was closed in November, resulting in mail to and from ZIP codes beginning with 217 being sent to Baltimore to be sorted.

“Mail has been delayed. I personally have received Christmas catalogs in February,” said Sharpsburg resident Elaine Barnett.

Barnett, who works at the incoming mail facility in Linthicum, Md., emphasized she was sharing her personal opinion and not speaking for the postal service.

“The postal service, I feel, is driving customers away by lowering their service standards, not meeting the existing service standards,” said Barnett, a 17-year postal employee. “They want to go from six-day delivery to five. They’re cutting jobs. They have fewer clerks at the windows. There’s long waits for customers. They’re just driving customers away and destroying one of the best postal services in the world.”

Roger Rishel, 64, of Sharpsburg, said he wants the postal service to reopen the Frederick mail-sorting facility to improve mail service that has declined since the November closing.

“I’m getting a lot of stuff — time-dated mail, that’s coupons and stuff, I get it after the sale is already over,” said Rishel, who worked at the sorting facility until it closed Nov. 18. Now he works at the downtown Frederick post office.

Tina Snider, 49, who lives east of Hancock, said she mailed a check to her landlord in October and, as of March 1, the landlord had not received it. Snider said she mailed the check from the downtown Frederick post office, where she was working in October.

That means mail delivery was affected before employees were moved around with the November closing of the mail-sorting facility, said Snider, who was transferred in November to Baltimore to be a mail carrier, but is now on medical leave.

Pointing out a more recent example of how mail delivery has been, Snider said it took more than a week for a birthday card she mailed from Clear Spring to arrive in Needmore, Pa.

Snider said she wants “customer service to come back,” for mail to be delivered without delay and for postal employees to have jobs without their lives being uprooted.

Shelley, who works at the Baltimore Processing and Distribution Facility and serves as director of organization for American Postal Workers Union 181, listed the group’s demands.

Its demands were to have Congress relieve the postal service of the “outrageous mandate” to fund retiree health care costs 75 years in advance; to give the postal service immediate access to pension overfunding to stabilize, enhance and protect the postal service; for Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to immediately resign; for Donahoe to be replaced with someone who will protect and defend the postal service for the good of the people; for the Frederick processing and distribution center to be reopened; and for postal officials responsible for the delay of mail — in violation of federal law — to be criminally prosecuted.

If you go ...

What: Town Hall public meeting by Save America’s Postal Service

When: Thursday, March 15, 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Williamsport Volunteer Fire Department, 2 Brandy Drive, Williamsport

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