Rep. Tim Burchett blasts PMG DeJoy over USPS arrogance at Knoxville consolidation meeting

Steve HutkinsBlog, Featured, News

On November 30, the Postal Service held the required public meeting about the consolidation of operations from the P&DC in Knoxville, Tenn., to the P&DC in Louisville, Ky.

Employees who attended complained that they weren’t given any information and were instead made to feel like leadership doesn’t care about them.

In the Initial Findings report on the consolidation, the Postal Service said, “There will be no career employee layoffs as part of this initiative…. Due to the transfer of some operations, an estimated net decrease of 28 craft and 4 management positions are projected once the initiative is completed. All bargaining employee reassignments will be made in accordance with the respective collective bargaining agreements.”

At the meeting, USPS representatives said that due to the transfer of operations, about 63 career and 9 management positions would be reassigned to another facility. But the local president of the Mail Handlers Union questioned those estimates. And for good reason. There are about 640 employees at the facility, and it’s hard to believe that 90 percent of them will remain in Knoxville after the consolidation and that only 32 positions would eventually be eliminated.

As for relocating 250 miles to Louisville, that may simply not be possible for many employees. As one person at the meeting said, “They use the term excessing because they don’t want to call it a reduction in force. Ultimately it’s either move or you lose your job.”

The meeting apparently lasted just a few minutes, and the USPS representatives would not take any questions. That did not sit well with Congressman Tim Burchett (R-TN 2nd District). The day after the meeting, he wrote a scathing letter to Postmaster General DeJoy, calling it a “complete waste of time” that could be viewed as successful only “if the goal was to simply check a box and move on.”

Perhaps Rep. Burchett was unaware that these consolidation meetings, which are currently taking place across the country, are always pro forma. The Postal Service has already decided that it’s going to consolidate operations from nearly 200 processing centers to 60 large regional distribution centers. The public meetings are simply a required part of the process.

Below is Rep. Burchett’s letter in full. The original letter is here.

December 1, 2023

Hon. Louis Deloy, Postmaster General
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260

Dear Mr. DeJoy,

As you are aware, the United States Postal Service is considering relocating mail processing and distribution operations currently located in Knoxville, Tenn., to Louisville, Ky. I am concerned about this possibility because, frankly, it makes no sense.

There was hope that the employees whose families would be impacted by such a decision would get additional useful information at a public meeting held by USPS yesterday in my district, but the meeting was a complete waste of time. Worse, the arrogance on display by the USPS and its management during this so-called meeting or listening session is completely unacceptable.

Your staff apparently drove to Knoxville from Nashville and points in between, likely getting paid for mileage and per diem, for a meeting that lasted just over 15 minutes, and at which not a word was uttered in answer to a single one of the many valid questions postal employees asked of their supposed “leadership”.

My staff attended the meeting and reported to me that your staff stared blank-faced at my constituents who were asking legitimate questions, and never even acknowledged that a question was asked, let alone bothered to answer one. Your employees — my constituents — deserve to be treated with more dignity and respect than was on display during this wasteful, useless public spectacle.

If the goal was to simply check a box and move on, then the USPS was successful. If the goal was to make USPS employees and customers feel heard, then the USPS failed miserably.

I want to discuss this further with you in person. My Director of Operations, Denise Lambert, can help schedule a meeting between the two of us in my office. Please have the appropriate person on your staff reach out to her at 865-984-5464 or by emailing TN02scheduling@mail.house

Respectfully,
Tim Burchett
Member of Congress