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Bend post office spared further consolidation – for now


Oregon’s congressional delegation said Wednesday that the U.S. Postal Service had agreed not to close its processing centers in Bend and Eugene “for the foreseeable future,” but an agency spokesman said they and dozens of other spared facilities around the nation are still slated for consolidation, as soon as next year.

Here’s the lawmakers’ news release::

Today, the Oregon Congressional delegation including Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Congressmen Peter Defazio, Greg Walden, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici announced that the U.S. Postal Service has taken the postal processing centers in Bend and Eugene off of the closure list and that they will remain open for the foreseeable future.

This news comes after the Oregon delegation members have been repeatedly calling on the USPS to keep the Bend and Eugene processing centers open to maintain mail delivery standards and save jobs.

News of the USPS changed plan comes after months of urging by the delegation as well as arecent meeting the Oregon Congressional delegationheldwith Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, where the delegation called on the Postal Service to keep Oregon’s remaining mail processing facilities open in light of the delayed mail delivery times.

“Keeping the mail processing centers in Bend and Eugene open is the only decision that makes any sense,” said Merkley. “Today’s decision is a step in the right direction, butthis isn’t a final victory and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to make sure that these centers permanently come off of the closure list.Mail sent from Bendto Bendshouldobviously notbe shipped to Portland to be processed. We have to make sure that we don’t continue to degrade our mail delivery standard and put people out of work.”

“The processing centers in Bend and Eugene are crucial to keeping open traditional and vital communication routes in rural Oregon,” Wyden said. “I’m glad the USPS has decided to postpone the closing of these centers, and it is my hope that when the Postal Service revisits this issue next year, it will decide to keep these centers open indefinitely.”

“This is a promising step in the right direction,” said DeFazio. “I’m hopeful the new Postmaster General, after reviewing the problematic network consolidation plan, will come to the same conclusion that I and many others have reached. Closing the Springfield facility would be extremely detrimental to Oregon businesses, families and seniors. Small businesses distribute their goods and order supplies, seniors get their medications delivered, weekly newspapers are distributed by mail. I hope the new Postmaster General does not repeat the same mistakes as her predecessor.”

“This is good news that the U.S. Postal Service will delay closing additional sorting facilities, including one in Bend,” said Walden. “Timely and reliable delivery of mail—whether for business, ballots, or medication—is essential for rural Oregonians. This is the right decision for both the Postal Service and its customers until questions have been answered as to how the closing of these sorting facilities will affect mail delivery.”

“The Postal Service’s decision to not close facilities in Bend and Eugene is welcome news,” said Blumenauer. “As these facilities remain open, we can turn our attention to modernizing and improving the viability of the Postal Service, without resorting to arbitrary closures that threaten family wage jobs or delivery standards.”

“Although many Oregonians are still facing increased delivery times due to the closure of the Salem Processing Facility, I am encouraged today that the Eugene and Bend facilities are shielded from closure for the time being, as their shuttering would have devastated mail delivery in many of our rural communities,” said Schrader. “However, USPS still has work to do to find a permanent solution to this problem and restore service standards in our state.”

Last Friday, the USPS released an update on “network consolidation” which postponed the closure date of the Bend and Eugene plants to a time “to be determined.”

Nearly half of the nation’s USPS mail processing and distribution centers were closed in 2012 – 2013 and another 30 closed in April of this year. The Salem plant closed in May, 2013 and the Pendleton plant closed this April. Approximately 50 more plants were set to close in July, including Eugene, and almost all are now on hold.

USPS spokesman Peter Hass in Phoenix told NewsChannel 21 that all mail from Central Oregon has been processed in Portland since the Bend facility closed two years ago.

The only portion remaining in Bend was sorting of first-class “destination mail,” for Bend-area letter carriers.

He also noted that no positions are eliminated when consolidation takes place, as jobs are offered elsewhere in the system. Earlier this year, the USPS changed first-class mail service standards nationwide, from the 1- to 3-day service previously to 2- to 3-day service.

Hass said a total of 82 consolidations had been planned this year, and 68 are still targeted for closure when the process resumes next year.

He also provided this U.S. Postal Service statement on the move:

“The Postal Service has decided to defer most of the plant consolidations that were scheduled to take place this summer as the final stage of its Network Rationalization Initiative.

“TheNetwork Rationalization Initiative is themulti-phase, multi-year effort announced in 2011 to balance mail processing infrastructure costs against current and anticipated mail volumesand successfully right-sizethe postal processing network.

“The decision to defer the next phase of the initiative was based upon operational considerations, and was made to ensure that the Postal Service will continue to provide prompt, reliable and predictable service consistent with the published service standards.

“The planned consolidation activities will resume in 2016.

“The Postal Service will continue to implement network efficiencies and pursue service performance improvements as it has always done.”

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