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Congressional delegation warns of delayed mail as USPS mulls changes to Manchester mail sorting facility

picture of USPS sign outside of Manchester processing facility
Todd Bookman
The U.S. Postal Service is considering changes to Manchester's mail processing facility, which employs more than 400 people.

New Hampshire’s federal lawmakers are raising concerns about a potential change to the U.S. Postal Service’s regional processing network that could shift some sorting operations from Manchester to Boston.

The proposal calls for relocating certain sorting equipment that, according to the state’s delegation, could mean mail sent and destined for addresses in New Hampshire may first be detoured to Boston, resulting in delivery delays.

“This will have severe consequences on all those who rely on the prompt, reliable service that we know from USPS,” said Congressman Chris Pappas, who spoke alongside the delegation on Monday outside of the Manchester facility, which employs more than 400 postal workers.

An initial review of the policy change estimated the USPS could save $1.5 million annually with the realignment, and would result in an estimated 11 layoffs. Pappas warned other career postal service employees may be forced, however, to relocate to Boston.

A spokesperson for the Postal Service disputed that the realignment of machinery and operations would delay services, however.

“In the past, you may have had mail traveling to destinations across the country in half full trucks originating from multiple locations in New England,” said USPS spokesperson Steve Doherty. “By consolidating outgoing operations into fewer facilities designed and equipped specifically for that purpose, we can greatly improve our efficiency and provide faster, more reliable service to all of our customers.”

He added that under the proposal, Manchester’s facility would have more space to sort and process incoming mail, resulting in potentially faster delivery times.

Unionized employees at the facility are opposed to the plan, and warn that packages and envelopes that have to be routed through Boston could lead to lengthy delays.

“They’re calling it modernization. I call it degradation,” said Dana Coletti, president of the New Hampshire American Postal Workers Union.

The union is also concerned about the short length of time between the USPS’s initial review, which was published last week, and a public hearingscheduled for Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. on the campus of Southern New Hampshire University.

In a letter to Postmaster Louis DeJoy sent Monday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen wrote that the proposals were alarming.

“Our constituents depend on the Postal Service for prompt and reliable mail and package deliveries,” Shaheen said. “Delays of critical deliveries, such as medications and benefit payments, can cause significant harm, especially for elderly Americans and those living in rural areas.”

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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