Randy Yohe Published

Fight Intensifies Over Fate Of Charleston Mail Processing Center

Bib, long building with mail trucks in front
USPS Charleston Mail Processing and Distribution Center.
Randy Yohe/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

If the current Postmaster General has his way, West Virginia may lose its only mail processing center. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was appointed to the post in 2020 by former President Donald Trump. 

DeJoy’s ten year “Delivering for America” postal transformation plan includes overhauling regional mail processing and distribution centers and “leveraging” existing sites in the process. 

Tim Holstein is vice president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 133 in Charleston. Holstein said union information from the national level coupled with gauging similar situations elsewhere strongly hints that the probable plan is to close or downsize the Charleston facility and process and distribute West Virginia mail out of Pittsburgh. 

“What we believe will happen is we shall receive notification of something right around December 24, or 22nd, somewhere the week right before Christmas,” Holstein said.

Holstein said when it comes to physical downsizing, many of Charleston’s mail sorting machines have already been removed over the past year.

“What we’re being told is that those machines are being moved to mega facilities on loan, that we would receive a machine back in its place,” Holstein said. “Now, personally, I don’t know if that’s going to happen. If they’re already taking machines out of the building, and they’re slated to downsize the amount of mail that we run now, one could only expect and forecast what the future would hold.”

The downtown Charleston facility employs 800 people, about 500 are union workers. Holstein said closure would have a ripple job loss effect. 

“There’s also other local postal unions that could be affected as well,” Holstein said. “Including the Mail Handlers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers. The Postal Service has a lot of employees that start off at part time and temporary work. So, how many part time jobs are going to be lost?”

The state’s congressional delegation and Gov. Jim Justice are all working to keep the center open, to save jobs and keep mail service on time. 

In his Wednesday media briefing, Justice blamed some of the postal facilities challenges on the current Biden Administration, although the 10-year transformation plan comes from a Trump appointee. Justice hinted at a possible resolution.

It’s going to cause disruptions. It’s going to cause lateness,” Justice said.  “However, I think there’s a potential relocation evaluation going on.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, said in a press release that there is no reason to move West Virginia’s mail processing facility to another state.  

”I will do everything within my power to prevent the loss of this facility,” Manchin said in the release. “The U.S. Postal Service should reverse its deeply flawed and misguided plan to conduct a Mail Processing Facility Review of its Charleston Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) facility, which would disproportionately harm a vital lifeline for the people of West Virginia.”

Holstein said if the closure happens, West Virginia would be one of only four states in the nation without a regional processing and distribution facility. He said the union’s plan going forward is to intensify public awareness, and perhaps more.

“As federal workers, we’re not allowed to strike,” Holstein said. “But we can do things called informational pickets. When we do decide to do that, I want as much media here as I can.” 

The U.S. Postal Service has struggled with operational costs over budget in the recent past. Holstein thinks this possible fiscal correction will backfire.

“The union believes that this plan was flawed from the beginning,” Holstein said. “In another five, six years, it’s going to be changed back and all this will have been wasted and it has to be reverted.”

Visit the link to the USPS portal for public comment on the possible facilities shake-up.