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Possible closure of mail-sorting facilities will be focus of forum

Facilities in City of Industry, Long Beach and Pasadena could be shut down to save money.

November 16, 2011|By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times

What does it take for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver local mail overnight?

The easy answer right now is 487 mail-sorting facilities across the country — part of a delivery system that the postal service is studying as it tries to reduce costs amid unfavorable economic conditions and declining demand as online banking, bill-paying and other digital services gain favor.

The agency is weighing a proposal that would shutter more than half, or 252. Facilities in City of Industry, Long Beach and Pasadena are among those targeted for possible closure, which could costs hundreds of jobs locally. As many as 35,000 jobs might be affected nationwide.

Such a change would hinge primarily on whether postal officials can cut overnight delivery for local mail — a decision that won't come until 2012, said Richard Maher, a USPS spokesman.

A study of the facility in the City of Industry found that closing it and shifting its work to the Santa Ana mail-sorting facility would save the Postal Service $5 million a year, Maher said, with an estimated 360 jobs lost.

Postal officials will hold a public forum Thursday evening in Diamond Bar to discuss the plan.

Postal workers and local officials argue that losing the City of Industry facility could have a detrimental effect in a business-laden area of the San Gabriel Valley.

In a letter to the postmaster general dated last month, three California members of Congress urged him to reconsider the consolidation plans, citing the loss of good-paying jobs and lowering the quality of the local postal service.

"It will place critically needed local jobs at risk at a time when unemployment is already in the double-digits," Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) and Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) wrote.

Beyond the jobs lost, many who stayed would probably have to make a long commute to Santa Ana.

Don Sachs, executive director of the Industrial Manufacturers Council in City of Industry, said there are about 2,500 businesses in town that rely on the Postal Service. They would be inconvenienced because of the extra time required to send and receive shipments, he said.

Terry Stoller, president of the American Postal Workers Union in California, agreed that closing the facilities would hurt employees and businesses.

"It would be devastating," he said. "It really would."

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