DFA implementation update on facility consolidations and new S&DCs

Steve HutkinsBlog, Featured

The Postal Service has shared some update notifications on plant consolidations and new Sorting & Delivery Centers with the unions and management associations. About 18 S&DCs will launch in February 2024, and a dozen processing centers could soon see most of their operations consolidated to Regional Processing & Delivery Centers (RPDCs).

The notifications quickly led to protests in Medford, Oregon, where a processing center could lose operations to the RPDC in Portland. That would slow down some local mail and lead to many job losses. There aren’t enough open positions in the area, so some employees in the Medford P&DC would need to relocate. Those unable to move may have to leave the Postal Service. (There’s a petition opposing the Medford consolidation here.)

Spreading news of consolidations also prompted Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-MI) to send a letter to the Postmaster General calling for more transparency about possible changes in the greater Kalamazoo region. Among Huizenga’s concerns is the fact that letter carriers will need to travel much further to the communities they serve if they’re relocated to an S&DC. The recent notification to the unions says there will be new S&DCs in Flint and Jackson. Kalamazoo can’t be far behind. S&DCs will eventually be everywhere.

S&DC update

The S&DC update contains new information about some of the conversions planned for next year. The list shows that about 18 S&DCs will launch in February 2024, taking on letter carriers from 68 “spoke” post offices.

Including those that have already been implemented and those that will be launched in September, that will make 48 S&DCs and 150 spoke offices, with more than 2,000 routes being relocated.

Here are a list and map of all these S&DCs and their spoke offices, with the S&DCs in red and the spokes in blue. (Zoom in to see the spokes. Use the tabs at the bottom of the list to view specific sets of facilities, like the February 2024 changes. The spreadsheet is on Google Docs here.)

Several of the new S&DCs don’t have any spokes yet, and several others have only one or two, with just a handful of relocated routes. Apparently the Postal Service is just setting the stage for future carrier consolidations. At this point, the S&DCs are averaging about three spokes each, but according to a recent article in Eagle magazine, each S&DC will eventually take carriers from five to ten delivery units.

Some of the scheduled S&DCs will house a large number of routes. In September, for example, 115 routes will move to the Mid Hudson S&DC, and 230 routes will be relocated to the Atlanta (NDC) S&DC. In February 2024, 150 routes will move to the S&DC in Richmond VA, 105 routes will move to Everette WA, 98 will move to Flint MI, and 95 will move to Norfolk VA. Overall, the S&DCs are expected to average about 100 routes each.

For this first group of 48 S&DCs, the average distance between the S&DCs and post offices — which is how much longer the average route will be — is about 10 miles and a 15-minute drive, each way. The average carrier route is about 21 miles, including transit between office and route and delivering to addresses, so the new system will essentially double the length of routes that move to an S&DC. When tens of thousands of routes are relocated, it will add hundreds of millions of miles to the delivery network and essentially cancel out the environmental benefits of 65,000 new electric delivery trucks (paid for mostly by taxpayers).

Plant consolidation update: RPDCs & LPCs

The Postal Service has also shared more information about the upcoming consolidation of processing facilities across the country. Most of the following was reported a couple of weeks ago in this post, but here’s the latest update list and a map, with the Regional Processing & Delivery Centers (RPDC) in red and Local Processing Centers (LPC) in blue.

For several facilities, the new list shows that the consolidations are subject to PO-408 review — that’s the handbook that deals with AMP studies, now called Mail Processing Facility Review — but for some facilities, there’s no such indication. It’s not clear what the difference is between these consolidations and those requiring PO-408 reviews.

The Postal Service issued notifications of intent to conduct feasibility studies a couple of weeks ago for the consolidations in Georgia and Oregon. Operations in the Macon and Augusta facilities would be transferred to the new 1-million-square-foot RPDC in Palmetto, GA, and operations from the Medford and Eugene P&DCs would be moved to the new Portland RPDC.

Basically, all package operations and outgoing letters and flats would go to the RPDCs, and the P&DCs would be “repositioned” as Local Processing Centers (LPCs), handling incoming letters and flats, as discussed here. The extra space made available by consolidation will in many cases be used to co-house an S&DC with the LPC.

Many of these buildings may therefore continue to be fully used, more or less, but who’s working there would change significantly. Where there are now sorting machines, mail handlers, and clerks doing processing work, there will instead be rows of sorting cases and dozens of letter carriers who have been relocated from delivery units at post offices.

Medford has about 100 employees doing mail processing work; Eugene, 200; Augusta, 130, and Macon, 250, maybe more. While some jobs will remain to process incoming letters, many of these positions will be eliminated. How many remains to be seen.

Upcoming Meetings

Meetings will be held on these proposed consolidations in early August. The Postal Service is supposed to share the announcements on potential consolidations with local media and elected officials, but there don’t seem to be any news articles so far. The press releases should also be published on the USPS website, but they’re not there yet. With the meetings just about a week away, one would expect the Postal Service to make more of an effort to notify the public.

The links below go to an online version of the announcement, which is easier to read on mobile devices than the USPS pdfs provided at the end of this post.

Eugene P&DC
Notice of Public Meeting: Tuesday, August 8, 3-5pm, at the Holiday Inn Express: Eugene/Springfield, 919 Kruse Way, Springfield OR 97477
Written comments may be submitted at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/mpfr-eugene-or
All comments must be received by August 23, 2023.

Medford P&DC
Notice of Public Meeting: : Wednesday, August 9, 3-5pm, at the Hilton Garden Inn Medford, 1000 Welcome Way, Medford OR 97504.
Written comments may be submitted at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/mpfr-medford-or
All comments must be received by August 24, 2023.

Macon P&DC
Notice of Public Meeting: Tuesday, August 8, 3–5pm, at Macon Marriott City Center, 240 Coliseum Drive, Macon GA 31217
Written comments may be submitted at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/mpfr-macon-ga
All comments must be received by August 23, 2023.

Augusta P&DC
Notice of Public Meeting
Wednesday, August 9, 3–5pm, at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, 2 Tenth St, Augusta, GA 30901
Written comments may be submitted at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/mpfr-augusta-ga
All comments must be received by August 24, 2023.

Here are all the announcements and notifications. The texts for each are essentially the same, although the press releases are more upbeat, with headlines saying, “USPS Proposes Improvements… Facility to remain open and modernized…”  The pdfs are all on Google Docs here.

(Featured image: Rally at the Medford, OR post office / KOBI)