NH senators join effort to pause USPS distribution center move

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US Post Office on Goffs Falls Road in Manchester. File Photo

MANCHESTER, NH – A group of 26 U.S. senators, including New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan have sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service asking for a pause on planned changes to processing and delivery, including in Manchester, until it can be studied further.

The changes, which include the “disappointing decision” to shift most letter distribution from the Manchester Processing and Distribution Center to Boston, are strongly opposed by New Hampshire’s delegation and state residents, the two senators said in a news release.

The letter asks that the impact of the changes be reviewed in more depth by the Postal Regulatory Commission “and addressed by the Postal Service,” including having the USPS “request a comprehensive advisory opinion from the PRC that analyzes the full scope of the network changes, including changes to local transportation and postal facilities across the nation before moving forward with any such changes.”

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the nationwide consolidation of distribution centers will save $5 billion, and that the USPS does not need authorization from the PRC to make the changes. The letter questions that figure, and cites evidence that the consolidation has not saved money in places it’s already been implemented.

Last month, USPS said that inbound package sorting would still happen in Manchester, but letter sorting machines would move to Boston. It estimated the move would save up to $1.5 million a year. USPS said no one would be laid off in Manchester, but up to 10 part-time workers could lose their jobs and workers may also be reassigned from Manchester to Boston.

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation has strongly opposed the changes until more study can be done, saying the impact on many state residents, particularly in rural areas, can be financially and socially damaging.  The delegation is also concerned about the more than 400 jobs at the Manchester site.

Hassan last month at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing told Tammy Hull, USPS inspector general, that she was concerned about delivery delays and employees making a choice between a difficult commute to Boston or losing their jobs if operations are moved from Manchester to Boston.

The bipartisan letter was led by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters, D-Michigan, and also signed by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine.

“We call on USPS to pause all changes, pending a full study of this plan by its regulator,” the letter says. “While USPS claims these changes overall will improve service while reducing costs, there is evidence to the contrary in locations where USPS has implemented changes so far USPS must stop implementation, restore service in those areas where changes were implemented, and fully understand the nationwide effects of its plan on service and communities.”

The letter points out, “The Postal Service’s primary responsibility is to provide timely and reliable delivery to every community across the nation. While USPS must continue adapting as an agency to remain stable and serve the public’s current needs, it must proceed with caution and understand the implications of its plans in order to protect mail delivery for all communities.”

The congressional delegation in Maine is also pushing back against the changes, in which the distribution center in Hampden, near Bangor, which serves vast, mostly rural northern and eastern Maine would be closed, with processing moving to southern Maine.

U.S. Rep. Jarod Golden, D-Maine 2nd District, last month introduced a bill in the U.S. House to freeze the consolidation.


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About this Author

Maureen Milliken

Maureen Milliken is a contract reporter and content producer for consumer financial agencies. She has worked for northern New England publications, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, for 25 years, and most recently at Mainebiz in Portland, Maine. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.