Forum set on planned move of White River Junction mail sorting

Carol Fairbanks loads sorted mail into bins at the U.S. Postal Service processing plant in White River Junction, Vt., Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Carol Fairbanks loads sorted mail into bins at the U.S. Postal Service processing plant in White River Junction, Vt., Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News - James M. Patterson

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-24-2024 9:01 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The U.S. Postal Service will host a public forum on Tuesday to discuss moving a significant portion of mail sorting operations for Upper Valley communities from White River Junction to Hartford, Conn., as part of a nationwide reorganizing plan aimed at cutting costs.

A study launched in January of the White River Junction post office, which collects, sorts and dispatches mail for 150 post offices in Vermont and New Hampshire, including all the towns in the Upper Valley.

A report on March 19 estimated that reorganizing White River Junction’s operations would save up to $940,000 a year. USPS is now gathering public feedback about the plan prior to publishing its final report.

“I’m trying to get as many people to show up to this meeting as possible,” said Nick Creamer, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union of New England’s White River Junction branch. “This is our mail hub, and I’m trying the best I can to drum up the support we need.”

The proposed changes in White River Junction are part of a nationwide USPS study of post offices as part of a $40 billion strategy to shift mail processing operations from smaller regional hubs to larger facilities that would be equipped with additional staff and resources to handle mail and packages for multiple regions.

The plan, called Delivery for America, is a 10-year strategy intended to reorganize the postal network by consolidating sorting operations into fewer facilities.

As part of the cost savings, six employee positions at White River Junction, including one manager, will be eliminated, according to the report. Creamer said that the five non-managerial employees would be clerks or custodians.

USPS has stated that career employees will not be laid off to attain staff reductions. Some positions may be eliminated through attrition or employees may be offered new positions at their branch or at another facility, Stephen Doherty, a USPS communications specialist, said in an interview last month.

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Creamer said that White River Junction currently has 30 mail handlers and eight open positions.

If the plan is implemented, delivery of local mail could be slowed, Creamer said, because White River Junction would have to send its collections at least two hours away for sorting and wait for the local mail to be returned.

Mail could also be postmarked up to a day or more later, which could affect bill payers, he said.

But the plan will also have benefits, he said. White River Junction will receive package sorting machines, which will allow the facility to sort and distribute packages directly. Currently White River Junction has to send incoming packages to another facility for processing, which adds time to the overall delivery.

The plan includes up to $6 million in facility upgrades and repairs, including new lighting, flooring, employee amenities and improvements to work areas, the report states.

The public meeting will be held on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 35 Labombard Road in Lebanon.

USPS will share the initial results of the study and allow members of the community to provide feedback on the findings of the report. A copy of the report is online at usps.com.

Community members may also submit written comments through April 10 at surveymonkey.com/r/mpfr-white-river-junction-vt.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.