Hundreds of employees affected by ETX mail processing center clo - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Hundreds of employees affected by ETX mail processing center closure

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Mail is no longer being processed directly in East Texas.

We first told you back in February that the East Texas Processing and Distribution Center would be closing its doors by June 1.

Mail has gradually been moving out of the center since April 1, and last Saturday, May 18, the last pieces of mail were processed here in East Texas.

And the closure affects more than just your mail.

I sat down recently with two postal contractors whose routes have been affected by the closure.

They asked us to protect their identities because they are afraid they'll lose more routes by speaking out, but they wanted people to know just what this closure means for the people of East Texas.

The USPS says there were just over 200 employees working at the East Texas P&DC, and that none of them were laid off.

"No employee has been laid off or terminated due to this organizational change. All employees were offered new positions with the organization, and if they voluntarily decided it was not in their best interest to accept this position, it was a voluntary decision that that employee made," said McKinney Boyd, the USPS spokesperson for the Dallas district.

But that's not how one postal contractor sees it.

"They haven't been laid off. They've been forced into retirement," he said. "They had the option of being transferred or finding another job somewhere else."

How the closure affects employees depends on what their contract says - some employees are protected by a clause that says they must be offered a job of some sort within 50 miles of where they used to work.

"There's two different kinds, there's clerks and mail handlers," one contractor said. "Now the clerks, yes, they have a contract that says 50 miles. Mail handlers don't have a contract. They can transfer them to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. They either take it or walk."

Even though the contractors don't work inside the P&DC, the closure is affecting them, too.

"It does away with a route which has been established here in East Texas for over 20 years," one contractor said. "That route's no longer going to exist."

"We're going to have to bid on other routes in other states, or do other jobs," said another contractor.

The USPS says the closure is happening because the organization is losing $25 million each day, and that closing this center will save about $14 million a year.

"We certainly apologize for this inconvenience to those employees, but at the same time, the organization is looking at ways to reduce and still a loss of $25 million," said Boyd. "And at the same time, it's being quite sensitive as far as offering employees the opportunity to learn a new task and new job in the postal service."

Boyd could not tell us how many employees were able to find jobs within the 50 mile radius of the Processing and Distribution Center, how many employees were forced to transfer elsewhere, or how many employees chose to retire.

While this closure is devastating for the people who work in the postal system in East Texas, it also affects every person in the area, because mail is now traveling outside the region to be processed before it's delivered.

Mail from zip codes beginning with 756 will be processed in Shreveport and mail from zip codes beginning with 757, 758, and 759 will be processed at the North Texas Processing and Distribution Center in Coppell.

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