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Consolidation could trim College Point mail center

By Alex Robinson

The College Point Mail Center could be back on the block two years after the community successfully rallied to save it.

The United States Postal Service has announced it is resuming a nationwide program to consolidate 82 distribution centers, including the College Point sorting facility, which employs 1,015 workers.

While the program would not outright close down the center, it could move a number of the facility’s services to Brooklyn and with them a number of jobs.

“These cuts will be devastating for so many families already struggling to get by, and it is unconscionable for the USPS to balance their books on the backs of working-class New Yorkers while compromising their service for Queens residents,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who has spoken out against shutting the facility for years. “We need to find an alternative solution to the financial hardships of the Postal Service and it is time for my Republican colleagues in Congress to stop dragging their feet on real reforms that can responsibly address the issue.”

A plan to shutter the Queens location ultimately floundered after it met strong opposition from the community and elected officials in 2012.

A USPS spokeswoman confirmed that some of the College Point center’s operations will be moved to a Brooklyn facility’s site, but these changes will not happen before January 2015.

“The Postal Service has a strong commitment to, and a long track record of, securing landing spots for our employees in these times of transition,” the spokeswoman said. “In all other past consolidations, we have been able to place impacted employees in other available positions without resorting to layoffs. Every effort will be made to reassign impacted employees in this instance as well.”

The Postal Service has faced significant financial problems in recent years as first-class mail volume and revenue have declined. Over the last three years, USPS has recorded financial losses of $26 billion.

In an effort to deal with further losses, USPS conducted a study in 2011 of 264 facilities and determined 223 of them could be consolidated to save $20 billion by 2015.

In 2012 and 2013, USPS consolidated 141 mail processing operations, which the Postal Service said saved $865 million and required no employee layoffs.

The next phase is expected to save more than $3.5 billion over five years.

“Official notification has not been received, as yet, but word is that all first-class mail, if this comes to pass, would be processed in Brooklyn, delaying the mail significantly,” said Robert Yaccarino, president of the Flushing chapter of American Postal Workers Union. “This would affect not only individuals but the many mailers and businesses located in the 113 ZIP code.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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