Postal Service moving workers

Posted
Wednesday, Aug. 19
PITTSFIELD -- The U.S. Postal Service will relocate several letter-sorting machines from the Pittsfield Post Office on Fenn Street to Springfield on Saturday -- a move that will designate 19 local employees for reassignment, Postal Service spokeswoman Maureen Marion said on Tuesday.

Consolidating the machines in Springfield is part of the U.S. Postal Service's effort to save money in the face of its $7 billion deficit, Marion said. This move will not result in layoffs, and will not affect the mail carriers or delivery schedules for postal customers, according to her.

Marion said she wasn't sure if the affected employees -- all of whom are postal clerks -- had been notified of the change. The Postal Service is obligated to allow 60 days for employees to be relocated, she said. That process also will begin on Saturday.

Pittsfield Postmaster Michael Witkowski disputed the number of employees that would be affected, saying that all 24 postal clerks at the Fenn Street post office will be. But he declined to go into specifics, citing contractual reasons.

"There are some things [about the move] that are good, and some that are bad," Witkowski said. "Contractually, this becomes something else, and I can't comment on that."

No other significant changes in Berkshire County's postal service are expected at the present time, as the U.S. Postal Service seeks to fix a $7 billion deficit by Oct. 1.

Witkowski said three of the six machines sort bar-coded mail for Berkshire County zip codes starting with "012." That sorting will now take place in Springfield, Marion said. She said the delivery of some items to Berkshire County will come directly from mail trucks leaving Springfield.

Witkowski said the decision to move the sorting equipment to Springfield does not affect the Pittsfield Post Office's status as a mail "hub" for Berkshire County, because the Postal Service moved most of those operations out of the city several years ago.

The only mail the Pittsfield Post Office had continued to sort were items that were placed in the "walk sequence" for carriers, he said. The Pittsfield Post Office will handle the distribution of mail from Springfield that goes to other areas in Berkshire County.

"That's going to continue," Witkowski said.

The U.S. Postal Service's massive deficit has grown because more people rely on electronic mail, and economic conditions have caused a dropoff in the mailing of advertising circulars, Marion said.

"In 2006, we had one of the best years we've ever had with 208 billion pieces of mail," Marion said. "This year, it's 170 billion. That's still a lot, but it's a huge change in a very short period.

"The changes are not because of mismanagement or poor performance, it's because of a lack of volume," she said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.


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