Merkley, Wyden Join Senate Colleagues in Letter to USPS Postmaster General DeJoy Demanding Protection of Jobs and Mail Delivery

Washington, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined a letter led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, urging him to stop any changes to United States Postal Service (USPS) service standards that would result in job losses and further degrade mail delivery performance, especially in rural areas. 

Joining Merkley, Wyden, and Sanders on the letter are Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jacklyn Rosen (D-NV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 
 
While the USPS claims that its “Mail Processing Facility Reviews” will not result in closures or career employee layoffs, “we are concerned these facility reviews will functionally result in both,” wrote the Senators. “In many instances, outgoing mail processing will move hundreds of miles to a regional facility, outside reasonable commuting distance and, in some cases, to another state entirely.”  

While the Postal Service says that career postal workers will keep their jobs, non-career workers are not protected. Currently, 59 mail processing facilities are under review or recently had their review completed, resulting in job losses and slower mail services for local community members. 
 
The Senators noted their concerns about the long distances mail will have to travel and the potential for delayed service in multiple states: 

  • In Oregon, mail processing at the Eugene and Medford facilities has begun transferring to a facility in Portland, distances of around 110 and 270 miles, respectively. These changes are already producing reports of mail delays in the Medford service area. 
  • In Vermont, mail processing at the Burlington and White River Junction facilities will likely transfer to a facility in Hartford, Connecticut, distances of around 230 and 145 miles, respectively. 
  • In Wyoming, mail processing at the Casper facility will likely transfer to a facility in Billings, Montana, and mail processing at the Cheyenne facility will likely transfer to a facility in Denver, Colorado — distances of around 280 miles and 100 miles, respectively.   
  • In Nevada, mail processing at the Reno facility will likely transfer to a facility in Sacramento, California, a distance of over 130 miles.  
  • In Colorado, mail processing at the Grand Junction facility will likely be moved to Denver, a distance of nearly 200 miles. Frequent closures on the highway between Denver and Western Slope-communities have led to significant concerns about the timely delivery of prescription medication, local mail, and Colorado’s mail-in ballots.  
  • In New Hampshire, mail processing at the Manchester facility is being transferred to Boston, Massachusetts, which will likely add significant delays to New Hampshire mail distribution and threatens as many as a third of the postal worker jobs at the Manchester facility.  

New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Vermont are set to lose all outgoing mail processing within the state, forcing many career employees to work in other communities. 

Americans all over the country—particularly in rural states—depend on reliable and expedient mail service to conduct business, pay their bills, receive medication–including lifesaving prescription drugs–get their Social Security checks, and stay in touch with loved ones. For rural communities, the loss of local jobs and even slower mail service represent further setbacks to the revitalization of rural life. 

“The Postal Service is at its best when it treats its workers right and delivers mail in a timely fashion,” concluded the Senators. “We therefore urge you to prevent facility changes or outright closures that will result in any job losses and slower mail.” 

To read the full letter, click here

Today’s letter is the latest action from Merkley and Wyden in opposition of USPS downgrades of processing and distribution facilities in Oregon. In October last year, Merkley led a bipartisan letter with members of the Oregon and Georgia congressional delegations to the leaders on the Subcommittees on Appropriations in the Senate and House that oversee the budget for the USPS, calling to block funds for the Postal Service’s planned downgrades.  

And just last month, Merkley and Wyden joined U.S. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer in a letter to Postmaster DeJoy asking USPS leaders to hold public hearings about its plan to consolidate mail sorting in Oregon—specifically flagging the Postal Service’s plan to transfer all sorting and distribution activities in the city to one hub in Beaverton. In their letter, lawmakers called on the USPS to engage in robust dialogue with letter carriers before moving forward with the consolidation plan involving the Portland region. Specifically, they request that USPS convene at least one listening session in every requested location that is open to all affected employees, including in Medford and Eugene.

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