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Union rep: USPS to inform offices of consolidation decisions today

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A union representative has told Springfield Business Journal that the U.S. Postal Service this afternoon intends to announce its decisions for the mail processing centers under consideration for closure.

Bruce Lincoln, president of the local American Postal Workers Union, said he received word early this morning from the APWU headquarters, and he also received e-mails from union offices in Florida, Arkansas and Washington.

He said he confirmed with management officials at the Springfield sorting center that it would indeed be receiving notification today. Springfield Postmaster Bill Brayman could not be reached for comment by deadline.

USPS Mid-America District Spokesman Richard Watkins would neither confirm nor deny that the postal service would make an announcement concerning the roughly 252 mail processing centers in question, including one in Cape Girardeau. The USPS also is looking at closing 3,600 low-activity post offices, for total savings of roughly $20 billion by 2015.

As to whether the Springfield processing center would face consolidation with a Kansas City branch, Lincoln was unable to say.

If consolidation moves forward, Springfield's processing center would be combined with processing operations in Kansas City, eliminating 57 local jobs.

"That's what we're waiting to find out," Lincoln said. "We don't know yet."

Late last year, a group of senators, including Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., asked the USPS to delay closing any sorting centers or post offices through mid-May to allow for Congress to make reforms that could potentially save the facilities. In an early January Springfield Business Journal story, Watkins said no action would be taken until at least May 15.

Lincoln said he believes Postmaster General Pat Donahoe is pushing for early announcements in an attempt to pressure legislators into action.

"I look at it as more of a ploy by the postmaster general's office to get the employees more riled up, so we would get a hold of our officials to get something done," Lincoln said. "He's pushing all the buttons he can to get something done."

In September, the USPS announced it would consider the closures, saying it has faced a significant decline in first-class mail volume in the last decade. The postal service expects it would save more than $7.5 million annually if it consolidates the Springfield sorting center.

The USPS announced last week an updated five-year plan that calls for raising the cost of first-class stamps 11 percent to 50 cents and adopting a new USPS-administered health care program, among other provisions.
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