U.S. Postal Service eyes operational changes at Wenatchee mail facility

USPS is considering changes at its Wenatchee processing and distribution center in NCW that could shift more operations to Spokane.

Mail processing machine USPS photo

Mail processing machine USPS photo

By Randy Bracht | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Postal Service is considering changes at its Wenatchee processing and distribution center in north-central Washington that could shift more operations to Spokane.

Findings issued last week from a recent USPS review said such a move would produce annual cost savings between $270,000 and $360,000 for maintenance and mail processing. The analysis says zero dollars will be saved in management or transportation costs. It doesn’t say whether transportation costs will increase as a result of mail going to Spokane for processing, then returning back to central Washington for delivery.

The initial review also says no career employees would be laid off, but there would be an estimated “net decrease of four craft (positions)” once the initiative is completed.

“All bargaining employee reassignments will be made in accordance with the respective collective bargaining agreements,” the review said.

The operational change, possibly in early February, is part of a 10-year strategic plan called Delivering for America, which the Postal Service says is a $40 billion investment to modernize “the nation’s aging postal processing and delivery network.”

The Postal Service is conducting an online survey regarding the proposed changes at the Wenatchee facility. The comment period continues to Dec. 14. A public meeting was also held Wednesday to accept comments.

Concerns have been reported that the operational shift to Spokane, if implemented, will cause delays in mail delivery, a decline in service, and negatively affect every post office in the region with a 988 Zip Code – from Moses Lake to Oroville near the Canadian border.

There are worries that postal customers will have to wait longer for medicine, packages, financial documents, medical bills — even delivery of election ballots. Some questioned the efficiency in transporting mail to Spokane – 170 miles from Wenatchee – for processing, only to have it returned for local delivery.

Wenatchee has previously been identified in 2012 and 2020 for consolidation. If the current “mail processing facility review” is approved, USPS says the Wenatchee facility would be modernized with “simplified processes and standardized layouts.” The review also said current retail services and delivery times of mail to residences and businesses should not change.

Nationally, a summary of the “Delivering for America” plan says the Postal Service is “in crisis.”

“The Postal Service has recorded $87 billion in financial losses over the last 14 years and failed to meet service standards. Our business and operating models are unsustainable and out of step with the changing needs of the nation and our customers,” the summary states.

A dramatic increase in package volume, lack of employee availability, and scarcity of airplane and truck transportation – especially during the holidays – have increased problems since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to USPS.