Jack Walker Published

USPS Will Discuss Plans For Charleston Processing Center Tonight

Bib, long building with mail trucks in front
Pictured here, the Charleston Mail Processing and Distribution Center is the only full processing facility run by the United States Postal Service in West Virginia.
Randy Yohe/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 3:45 p.m.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) will host a public hearing Wednesday on its plans to downsize a Charleston mail processing center.

Last fall, USPS received pushback over its downsizing plan for the Charleston Mail Processing and Distribution Center, which is the only USPS processing center in West Virginia.

USPS has since compiled and released findings on the plan, which it will discuss with members of the public Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center.

Meanwhile, controversy over the proposal has grown among some residents, union employees and even state lawmakers.

Critics say the prospective changes — like processing West Virginia-bound letters and flat packages in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania — could increase wait times for local residents and reduce job opportunities locally.

Sam Holstein, vice president of the Charleston-based American Postal Workers Union 133, said workers also worry that current USPS numbers might not account for all layoffs in the long term.

In its initial findings, published Jan. 30, USPS said that the transfer of some services to Pennsylvania would “not result in this facility’s closure or career employee layoffs.”

But Holstein said this does not account for the tens of temporary employees who work at the center full time and depend on it for an income. For him, these workers are temporary in name only.

“The Postal Service tries to put icing on this to where it looks sweet, and it looks like it’s going to be a good thing,” he said. “But, ultimately, when their plans are done, it’s not.”

Sean Hargadon, USPS spokesperson for West Virginia, wrote in an email that changing employment conditions for noncareer and pre-career mail workers reflect “the very nature of a flexible workforce category.”

“It is important to note we are providing more opportunities for noncareer employees to become career employees — and, in the past three years, more than 165,000 pre-career employees have been converted to career,” he wrote.

On Tuesday, Holstein and fellow union workers lined downtown Charleston during an informational picket. They told residents about the plans and the public hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Union employees also expressed frustration over the hearing, which was initially slated for Jan. 30 but later postponed with less than a week’s notice.

With the hearing date finalized for Feb. 14, which is Valentine’s Day, Holstein said that union workers have been passing out heart-shaped informational cards to raise awareness for their cause — while keeping with the holiday theme.

“We want to get as many people there tomorrow to show up, listen to what the Postal Service has to say about this, and to voice their opposition,” he said.

**Editor’s note: This story was updated to include comment from USPS officials.