Randy Yohe Published

W.Va. Postal Workers Union Waiting For USPS Mail Processing Center Sustainability Review

Postal center signpost in front of a fence and a building
W.Va. Mail Processing and Distribution Center
Randy Yohe/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Despite positive rhetoric, West Virginia postal workers continue to fight for the state’s mail processing facility’s future.   

A cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over Charleston Postal Workers Union Local 133 members. Union Vice President Tim Holstein said national union prompts and an examination of changes at similar facilities now hint that the probable United States Postal Service (USPS) plan is not to close, but to downsize the Charleston Mail Processing and Distribution facility and process West Virginia mail out of neighboring Pennsylvania.

“It’s just going to be changed,” Holstein said. “I use that word from its current operational state. That’s their word, that’s the Postal Service’s word that they’ve said.” 

The South Charleston center employs about 800 workers, and about 500 are union members. 

Holstein said even though U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., have been told by the USPS there will be no layoffs, the union has received no such notification. 

“I think you’d leave that language open ended,” Holstein said. “So that, if you’re the postmaster, it comes back that you didn’t necessarily lie, you left the option open. And I think that’s what’s happening now.” 

Holstein says the union’s big concern now is possible out-of-state job relocation.

“Pittsburgh and Pennwood are a good distance away,’ Holstein said. “You’re talking about individuals, families being uprooted, having to sell their homes during this economy. That’s going to put a lot of people in financial bind and hardships if that happens.” 

Holstein said the union is also fighting to protect what he calls “the sanctity of the mail,” when it comes to public delivery times if distribution is moved out-of-state. He gave an example of a letter mailed from Elkview, West Virginia to nearby South Charleston.

“You’re moving a letter from Elkview to South Charleston, which normally would take one day, two days tops,” Holstein said. “Now, that potentially could take four days or more. It just doesn’t make sense to the union, and it doesn’t make sense to the general public.” 

Holstein also has concerns for job security of the non-career postal employees at the facility.

“They get 40 hours per week or more,” Holstein said. “Basically, they have no set schedules and no days off. They’re limited with health insurance, retirements and things like that. They’re basically a supplemental workforce, but the postal service draws their career employees from non-career roles.”  

Holstein said right now, there are still more questions than answers. 

“It’s not positive that things are going to change,” he said. “Or it’s not positive that things are changing.” 

Holstein said the union expects to have answers when they see the USPS facility review results next week, right before Christmas.

In asking the USPS for comment, WVPB received an emailed statement on the issue that reads:

“The facility review will not result in the closure of the facility or career employee layoffs. The goal of this review is to improve customer service and to achieve significant cost savings through operational precision and efficiency. Business mail entry, Post Office, station and branch retail services are not expected to change, and delivery services will not slow down as a result of this review. The Postal Service will work closely with its unions and management associations throughout the facility review and will continually monitor the impact of any changes that are implemented and will adjust plans as necessary and appropriate.”