Sen. Wyden and others call on U.S. Postal Service to not close mail sorting centers in Bend and Eugene.
Washington, D.C. – In a joint letter today to Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, Oregon’s congressional delegation expressed serious reservations about proposals to close mail processing centers in Bend and Eugene.
“Oregon has already lost mail processing plants in Salem, Klamath Falls, and Pendleton, with two more locations in Eugene and Bend set to be consolidated this year. If these mail processing plants close, mail will have to flow through either Portland or Medford, even when their destination is in the same town it originated in,” said the letter, which was signed by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley as well as by Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Greg Walden, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader.
“This causes delays in mail delivery, increases the amount of mail the Portland location must process, and forces mail carriers to cover larger distances and work longer hours. These plant closures not only put stress on the existing processing locations but also put rural jobs at risk,” the letter said.
The letter was written in response to a meeting on May 13 in which six members of Oregon’s congressional delegation – Sens. Wyden and Merkley and Reps. Bonamici, Blumenauer, DeFazio and Schrader – met with Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman to discuss the latest plans for reducing the Postal Service’s chronic budget deficit and specifically to learn what the impact will be in Oregon.
“The proposal offered by the Postal Service is troubling in several ways,” Sen. Wyden said. “It would be felt across our state and Oregonians would endure these closures through degraded service and force them to wait longer for the delivery of crucial items ranging from mail-order prescriptions to Social Security checks. It will affect small businesses and Oregon’s vote-by-mail system. There is too much at stake and the Postal Service must consider other means of controlling costs.”
“Oregonians not only rely on the postal service for jobs, connectivity, and prescription drugs, but for the mail-in ballot and voting,” Rep. Blumenauer said. “The Postal Service should reconsider closing the Eugene and Bend facilities and work with myself and my colleagues to strengthen and improve their long-term viability without resorting to damaging a critical piece of our state and national infrastructure.”
“Mail delivery is a critical service, especially for Oregonians living in rural areas in my district,” Rep. DeFazio said. “Small businesses distribute their goods and order supplies, seniors get their medications delivered, weekly newspapers are distributed by mail. Closing more processing centers will have huge and devastating impact on Oregon communities, significantly delaying mail delivery. I hope the new Postmaster General will overturn these shortsighted decisions to close facilities and find more innovative ways to save money and increase efficiency.”
“Oregonians are already paying too high a price for USPS’s consolidation plans with longer delivery times already being felt in the Mid-Willamette Valley following the closure of the Salem Processing Facility,” Rep. Schrader said. “Closing the Bend and Eugene mail processing facilities would be devastating to already deteriorating service standards in our rural communities and would put too much stress on the two remaining processing plants. My colleagues and I need answers before any further plant consolidation should proceed.”
As noted in the letter, without mail processing plants in Eugene, Bend or Pendleton, mail will have to flow through the city of Portland causing delivery delays, increases the amount of mail the Portland location must process and force mail carriers to cover larger distances and work longer hours. The closures would also put additional stress on the Portland facility and on others the rest of the state and the negative effect hit especially hard in rural areas.
The letter also asked USPS to outline “the comparative impact to the reduction in mail processing and thereby service standards in Oregon” compared to the effect that could be faced by other states.
The letter requested as well that USPS clearly and thoroughly explain the steps it has taken to constrain costs and what innovations it has used – or is considering – to raise additional revenue.