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William Street Postal processing and distribution center to shut down

The United States Postal Service says it plans to shut down its processing and distribution center on William Street in Buffalo and move operations to Rochester as part of its cost-cutting efforts.

Although no date has been set, the move could come as early as May 15 according to reports.

Appearing in Cheektowaga Thursday morning, Senator Charles Schumer suggested it might not be too late to save the facility and the 700 jobs there.

Karen Mazurkiewicz is the spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service in Buffalo.

"The Postmaster General said it was about logistics, about the fact  Rochester is more centrally located.  So that is our understanding is why it was set up to study Buffalo into Rochester," said Mazurkiewicz.

WBFO's Ashley Hassett asked Mazurkiewicz what would happen to the 700-local employees.

"We would follow our union agreements.  In some cases, there will be positions n in Rochester, some people would potentially be reassigned to Rochester.  Other people wouldn't have to go, but might voluntarily go, and then what we would do with anybody that doesn't have a position, we would try to find a position in the neighboring post office or maybe in a different craft," said Mazurkiewicz. "So our intent is truly to do right by our employees."

It is not a final notice.  It is a preliminary notice and we have until May 15 to come up with legislation.  I had three or four meetings last week on this issue, trying to come to a compromise between the postmaster and the postal workers, so that we could... what we really want to do is keep the postal service doing one to three day delivery.  If they do one to three day delivery, they have to keep the Buffalo office open," said Senator Schumer.

Schumer said there's money available in the Postal Service's pension system, which he deemed "overfunded by a quite a lot."

"The postal system has overpaid its pensions and so there is money that could come from that pension system, because it's one of the few systems that's overfunded by quite a lot, which could help keep one-to-three mail day delivery, which would keep the Buffalo center open and I'm working hard to try and get that done," said Schumer.

Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins has been fighting to keep the William Street distribution center operating.  He issued the following statement on the USPC announcement:

“The United States Postal Service announcement of plans to proceed with consolidation of the Buffalo mail processing facility by no means concludes our hard fought fight.  The Buffalo facility was awarded the gold standard for efficiency and cost effectiveness, recognized by the Postal Service itself for “business growth opportunities.”  This facility shouldn't be closed; it should be held up as a national model. And the other facilities should try to emulate what's going on here.

“When the news of the potential for closing of the William Street facility was announced on September 15th we said it “defies reason.” Over the last five months the USPS had an opportunity and an obligation to provide factual information justifying their decision and truly hear the customers they serve.  Over this time the Postal Service has failed to provide transparency, failed to provide reason and failed to disqualify even one argument this community put forth, continuing a frustrating USPS model of decide now, justify later.

“Comprehensive postal reform would relieve the obligation to prefund pension obligations and would dramatically change the balance sheet of the Postal Service.  We are among 228 bipartisan cosponsors on a bill introduced by Congressman Steve Lynch that would recalculate the pension funding requirement. This bill should be brought to the floor for a vote. I'll be urging the Speaker to do that and I'll be meeting with the Postmaster General in Washington on Monday."

“No facilities will be closed until after May 15.  We will continue this fight on behalf of the 700 workers, local businesses and the Western New York community.”

 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.