Paducah processing center closing, USPS consolidating

The processing plant at the Paducah post office closes Saturday. It’s part of consolidation plans that started 2011.

Tomorrow will be the last day for operations. The mail will instead be processed through Evansville. A processing plant in Cape Girardeau will also be consolidated into the St. Louis plant.

The post office will still stay, but its processing machines will shut down. A spokesperson with the Postal Service says it’s a consolidation that’s worked in other parts of the country, but workers and union leaders say the consolidation will affect their quality of life in a bad way.

Gerl McKinney, Vice President of Paducah’s American Postal Workers Union has since retired from the Postal Service business, but knows how much time workers have dedicated to the post office. He says, “We’ve got a few employees who are in disbelief because they’ve been here 20-plus years, and now their jobs are being changed or eliminated.”

McKinney says they’ve seen the change coming, but many are still unhappy about how the consolidation could change their jobs and their lives. A majority of the workers will be transferred to different locations and/or work different jobs from what they did in the past.

United States Postal Service spokesperson David Walton says it’s a business decision. “We’re not doing this because we want to. We’re doing it because people are no longer paying their bills with checks in the mail,” Walton says. He says first class mail used to be the primary source of income. The USPS operates as a business, and Walton says there’s extra space the postal service isn’t using, including the processing center. But as for quality of service, he says there shouldn’t be any disruptions.

But with so many technological advances, McKinney only questions why his industry is getting left behind. 

“When everything is getting faster, why are we getting slower?” McKinney says.

There are 41 employees affected at the Paducah plant. As of right now, no one will be laid off. By April 18, however, most all employees will be reassigned to different positions, locations, or both. Most will also be working fewer hours and taking home less pay.

Regarding the future of the processing equipment, as of right now there is no plan for either that equipment or what will happen to the space it’s occupying.

The Paducah processing plant can deliver 300,000 to 350,000 pieces of mail in an average day.

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