USPS Plans to Consolidate Local, Richmond Facilities

USPS Distribution Facility
The USPS Distribution Facility on Airport Rd.

As many people forecast, the USPS intends to scale back significantly their new processing facility on Airport Road, Bryan McKenzie writes in the Progress, moving that work to a newer facility in Richmond. The postal service announced in August that they’d be conducting a study on the topic, with the results due to have been announced a month ago. ( The Richmond facility opened in September, after the possibility of consolidation was mentioned; the notion that they would build the facility without first deciding what was to be done with it strains credulity.) They say that the study results support consolidation, but they’re not saying how many of the 181 jobs will be eliminated. That will presumably come out at the November 18 public hearing that they plan to hold.

What I haven’t yet seen addressed is what this will mean for our mail. Will all of our outgoing mail have to go through Richmond?

23 Responses to “USPS Plans to Consolidate Local, Richmond Facilities”


  • The Richmond facility opened in September, after the possibility of consolidation was mentioned; the notion that they would build the facility without first deciding what was to be done with it strains credulity.

    They built the Richmond facility because they had already decided they were going to close the Airport facility. The “study” was just a P.R. stunt for the locals. So they could explain with “statistics” the “Why they decided to do what they had -years ago- decided they would be doing.” (And that’s also what the “public meeting” will be as well- just P.R.)

    The Postal Service moves in geologic time- nothing is studied in August and unleashed in September at such lightening speed. Absolutely Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

    There are two USPS job classes affected by this- The Clerk Craft (Clerks- work the front counter selling stamps weighing your packages etc, They also operate many of the sorting machines- those are mainly at the airport- and where needed do mail sorting by hand) and the Mail Handlers Craft (Mail handlers work the loading docks- they load and unload the trucks of equipment used to transport mail, and they move the heavy postal equipment around the postal facility where it’s needed).

    All jobs are by seniority. Everyone in the Clerk craft working in the Cville area at all of the postal facilities (Airport, 29 North, Barracks Road, etc) will have to re-bid (express interest in a position- which will be awarded by seniority) for all of the jobs that won’t be moved from Charlottesville (even if they are already currently doing that job).

    Anyone without enough seniority to get one of the open slots in Cville- will be transferred either to Sandston or Northern Va. They won’t have any choice about it their union contracts allow them to be relocated up to 500 miles away- and if they refuse to go- then they will have been considered to have quit.

  • Wonder if Just Bob knows the story of the building the PO leased on River Road that they never used. I’m sure others also wonder how much taxpayer money was wasted on that pointless lease, how it happened, who was responsible.

    For those who don’t know the location, the building is now a farm machinery dealership just off the 250 Bypass across from Auto Zone and in sight of Free Bridge below Pantops.

  • According to a memo inadvertantly posted at the Airport Road building by a Mail Handlers craft union representative (he wasn’t suppose to post it on the bulletin board), only 60 employees of the 181 employees locally will now be affected. This of course means 121 employees are safe until the next cost cutting innovations or technology come along. We’ll know if this information is accurate or not after the first of the year.

    I don’t think even the postal service knows how this thing is going to work yet. Does the check you mail in Charlottesville have to go to Sandstone to be processed? And then come back to Charlottesville to be delivered to your dentist in town? Good luck getting a competent answer to this question from anybody right now.

  • And I wish everybody would stop calling it the “Richmond facility”. It’s in Sandstone, Virginia which is located 20 miles from Richmond.

    And the new facility in Sandstone, Virginia isn’t up and running according to rumor. They were having trouble getting the multi million dollar machines set up and operating correctly. At one point I was told they couldn’t even find anybody in the entire USA that could get one machine assembled correctly.

  • Fred C. Dobbs. – I know the building you are referring to. It was the New Safeway Building (when it was built) on the corner of 250 and River Road, but it was behind what was the original Safeway building a “Peoples Drug store” building (now a Tire and auto place if I remember correctly)- and then there was the old Riverside Grill a little further down were the new CVS pharmacy sits now.

    All I know about that was that it was leased with the idea/goal of using it for pretty much something similar to what the Airport facility is used now used for.

    And of course it was never used. The why? How much they wasted? Who was responsible? Or how it happened at all? I’ve no clue. It was before my time.

    And for the record the Daily progress misspelled the location of the new processing facility. It’s “Sandston” no E. And yep it’s not really Richmond either.

    According to a memo inadvertently posted at the Airport Road building by a Mail Handlers craft union representative (he wasn’t suppose to post it on the bulletin board), only 60 employees of the 181 employees locally will now be affected. This of course means 121 employees are safe until the next cost cutting innovations or technology come along.

    Well first there are not 181 Mail Handlers at the Airport facility. Most of those jobs would be in the “Clerk Craft” (see prior post for definitions of duties). And there are not to my knowledge 121 “Clerk Craft” or “Mail Handler” positions in the Cville area- not unless the Airport facility stays open in some limited capacity. (Granted I could be wrong – don’t think I am, but my knowledge of those areas isn’t perfect).

    I don’t know why a memo that affected the Mail Handlers Union would not be allowed to be posted on their Union board. That’s really what those things are there for. But… the number 181 would compose both “Clerk Craft” and “Mail Handler” positions. And my understanding is that at least as a ratio, there is more “Clerk Craft” than “Mail Handler” positions in Cville. So the majority of the 181 number would be Clerks with 181 being the total number from both unions.

    In the local (non airport facility) USPS locations there are not very many mail handlers positions. Nor Clerk Craft Positions either. So I wouldn’t be surprised to find out (granted I could be wrong) that the numbers quoted are reversed. Meaning 60 (+/-10 to 15) or so Clerk Craft would be safe from transfer. With the remaining 121 (+/-) being shipped out.

  • The way I understand it, the 181 is the total of both crafts. I think we agree on this. The 121 who are safe is based on seniority, not craft. So if there’s 36 mail handlers… and only 8 of them fall into the seniority of the 121…. the other 28 will be laid off, or travel each day to Sandston.

    I, like you, feel as if the numbers were reversed by the person who read the memo and passed the information on to me. It’s much more reasonable to believe 60 are safe, and the other 121 have the career choice of their life to make all of a sudden. Even though it’s nice to have a job nowadays, I don’t see how some of them can drive 160 to 250 miles a day round trip.

    Another point I am not real clear on is how many are full time union employees, and how many are casaul part time employees. I guess all of the casual part time employees will be laid off before they even start dealing with union employees.

  • Another point I am not real clear on is how many are full time union employees, and how many are casaul part time employees. I guess all of the casual part time employees will be laid off before they even start dealing with union employees.

    My understanding on that is that all are employees covered by the Union contract (even if they may not all be union members).

    The “Casual Part time employees” (who usually aren’t part time at all- that’s just USPS speak for we don’t give them benefits and they aren’t covered by the union contract- effectively Temporaries) the casual part time employees are usually hired in November and December just for the Christmas rush.

    But if there are one or two “Casual/Temporaries” that have been doing the “Work/get dismissed/then get rehired” routine and been managing that for longer than just the holiday rush period I mentioned above- then yes you can guarantee those folks will be gone.

    The full time covered by the union contract jobs that could be at risk are those that don’t have layoff protection. My -possibly flawed- understanding of that is that anyone who has been employed in a Union position but has been employed for less than 6 years- can be laid off.

    That said, the people I get my info from don’t think the USPS will exercise that option and will instead try to use them all to fill vacant positions (within a 500 mile radius- or something like that).

  • Even though it’s nice to have a job nowadays, I don’t see how some of them can drive 160 to 250 miles a day round trip.

    If they’re smart- they will consider the wages, benefits, and union grievance system of job protection (flawed that it may be) that they have now with the USPS.

    Then compare all that to how much of a pay cut they would have to take to ring a register at Walmart, Lowes, or McDonalds, and how quickly they would be fired for some of the crap they may have pulled at the USPS (lack of adherence to procedures, excessive absenteeism, etc) if they tried similar things in private industry.

    Then suck it up deal with the commute and/or start to look for housing closer to their new employment locations.

  • I have heard there’s enough positions in the Sandston facility to absorb anybody who gets the shaft in Charlottesville. I have to wonder if this rumor includes the full timers and the casual part timers though. But then we also have to wonder how many employees of any description will pick up and move, or how many will actually drive to and from Sandston. For a variety of reasons, some current employees will probably just abandon their postal careers. (The 500 mile radius thing is also misunderstood by many. Some say it’s 600 miles, others say it is 500 miles.)

  • Jeez, a two hundred mile commute would be just wretched. If there’s no traffic, and it’s just highway exit to highway exit, that’s six and a half hours spent driving every single day. I’m not sure that’s humanly possible. That’s like getting a 40% pay cut just w/r/t time—with additional automobile expenses, I suspect it’s more like 50%.

  • Welcome to California, Waldo…

  • Sandston is easy to get to once you’re on I-64. It’s about 90 minutes one way. So it would be a 3 hour trip from Charlottesville. For employees living west of Charlottesville, it could easily become a 5 hour a day commute. Some employees are discussing “Mexican” style housing near Sandston for the work week… rent an apartment and end up with about 15 to 20 people living in it. Some are discussing travel trailers for the work week and attempting to find a place to house them near Sandston. Refilling the propane and water so often would be a royal PITA though. And obviously carpooling with 15 person vans is on the table as well. Some of the younger employees who just got their feet on the ground and settled down, they are discussing defaulting on their mortgages and letting their homes and vehicles go. There’s just a sheetstorm of emotions going on right now with the employees.

  • Casuals (aka Temps)if there are any- are S.O.L. They wouldn’t be covered by the contract. They would be let go period.

    I too have heard that the USPS is planning that there will be enough positions in Sandston for those scheduled to be relocated. Of course they might also be hoping for a few people to get fed up fast and quit (attrition).

    One of the things the USPS did as a way to urge the old timers who’ve already qualified for retirement back when they first offered the early retirements with no incentives (around summer 2008)- was to get rid of the day shift (known as tour 2) at the Airport facility and force them to choose between tour 1 (starts at midnight) or Tour 3(ends at midnight).

    And I looked for (and found the memo) someone mentioned in an earlier post- dated Oct 28 or 29th I think- it does indeed suggest that only 68 jobs will be lost in this area from the people at the Airport facility. Now they all have to get off the pot and figure out if their seniority will spare them the cut.

    And I honestly can’t say that I have very much sympathy for the folks at the airport facility. A lot of this they’ve bought on themselves.

  • Bob, one of the biggest problems at the airport facility has always been one person doing the work while 2 or 3 others stood around watching, drinking coffee, chatting or supervising. This information came straight from a now retired driver (sub-contractor). He used to get there early so his load wasn’t ready to pull out yet. This driver compared the airport facility to city and county work crews, one person down in the hole digging while 5 others stood above on the pavement watching.
    Not long ago, I think they offered those eligible for early retirement a bonus of $15,000 to do so. They were hoping this might help others lower on the totem pole from losing their jobs as well. I talked to a lady the other day who actually did retire shortly before this $15,000 bonus offer. The offer wasn’t retroactive and she was pretty upset.

  • Not long ago, I think they offered those eligible for early retirement a bonus of $15,000 to do so. They were hoping this might help others lower on the totem pole from losing their jobs as well. I talked to a lady the other day who actually did retire shortly before this $15,000 bonus offer. The offer wasn’t retroactive and she was pretty upset.

    Yep they were hoping to get 30,000 takers. They only got 18,000 takers. With the $15,000 bonus round of early retirement offers.

    Sad thing is most of the slackers have enough seniority to avoid the cut. Take a look at the faces at the counter at the 29 north and Barracks Road windows next time you go in to buy stamps or mail a package. Most of those guys will be gone. And the lower totem pole people also work cheaper because they are lower on the pay scale.

    Bob, one of the biggest problems at the airport facility has always been one person doing the work while 2 or 3 others stood around watching, drinking coffee, chatting or supervising.

    Yep. I’ve always imagined that to be the case. November of 2008 a bunch of them got it in their mind that it would be a great idea to all phone in sick the day after Thanksgiving. Needless to say that wasn’t very helpful for the USPS employees that didn’t work at the plant but did have to work.

    And instead of taking the long view and worrying about trying to be efficient to save their jobs. They whine because of “this or that (something that’s improved efficiency)” is causing them to lose out on overtime opportunities.

    They shot themselves in the foot.

  • Some of them working the windows need to be gone. I handed a girl at a 29 North window a pink slip to pick up a package that was too large to fit in my post office box. Unless I had it on video, you wouldn’t believe how slow she walked while leaving her station, retrieving the package, and walking back to her station. In later discussions people knew exactly who I was speaking of and claimed it wasn’t her fault. They said it was her supervisors fault for letting her get by with this foolishness.
    Which actually brings up another good point. A lot of supervisors seem to be in the 110 to 120 who are going to be axed locally. While they may have rank for whatever reasons, they do not have seniority. One top dog supervisor (don’t know his name) didn’t even sell his home elsewhere or move his family here when he was assigned to the airport road facility. Employees claim he already knew what was coming down the pike years ago. The local facility isn’t something that came up within the last 6 months. It’s been on the table for a long time.
    Rambling on as I do often, we had another funny event take place in our neighborhood not long ago. We have a “foot” route. The regular full time carrier was on one of days off. The substitute (a casual part timer???) drove the mail truck door to door and walked the mail to each house. The entire time the mail truck was running and wasting gasoline between stops. After about the third or fourth time of watching this, I think a neighbor (retired postal carrier) called a complaint in on him. On another occasion, another substitute delivered everybodys mail to the wrong box. Everybody on my street had to meet out front and exchange mail with each other.

  • If you have a guy (or gal) that walks the mail from the mailbox next to your door, to the mailbox next to your neighbors door.. and so on… and if they wear a uniform… they are “City Carriers” (union: NALC- National Association of Letter Carriers).

    Those fellas are hourly. The system they use is a mess. Unfortunately the way the “City side” (meaning City Carrier Craft) works right now it means you don’t have the same guy working from day to day on your route.

    And most of the “City side” carriers are not “Career- with benefit” USPS employees. No. They are “temps”. They are called “Transitional Employees” TE’s. They earn the starting NALC union wage and can accrue Annual leave and Sick leave- but they get no health benefits or retirement benefit and they can be fired without cause- unlike union members who’s contract specifies a bunch of hoops management must jump through in order to fire someone. They are place holders for the NALC union members until after the “restructuring” is done.

    And when the USPS is done with it’s “restructuring” those T.E.s will be as Shit Outta luck as any Airport facility “casuals” will be when they close, on the street and looking for work.

    My current understanding- The head man at the Airport facility has already lined up something else somewhere else.

    As you mention “supervisors”. I want to clarify some things. “Supervisors” unless they are supervisor trainees (known as 204b’s) are not members of any of the “craft” unions. Their jobs will not count among the jobs lost. They won’t be axed. The will be transferred. Part of being a supervisor/management with the USPS- is living with the fact that you will often be moved around like a chess piece, and if you’re lucky, it won’t be so far away that you can’t drive home at night after however long of a commute.

    Supervisor/management is probably the one job in the USPS closest to working in private industry.

    And the bad one’s are tough to get rid of. To get fired from the USPS it’s almost like you have to do something criminal. Incompetence isn’t enough.

    Cville has one Supervisor- who in the past- every time they have tried to fire her- has filed an EEOC complaint and gotten re-instated. Which means management just keeps this person moving from department to department. Kinda like the Catholic church with their unwanted pervert priests.

    It’s a mess. And while each union has their unique set of problems that should be addressed that they may not be addressing- Unfortunately the rot is in the head (management) and not the arms and legs (the other unions).

  • Small world! If it’s the same girl I am thinking of, they haven’t tried to fire her. They HAVE fired her, over and over. But she always wins and is reinstated with past benefits and salary! But we’re right back to the supervisors. Supposedly, they never follow procedure and terminate her properly.
    Don’t even get me started on the “terminations” discussion! A local postmaster conspired with a county police officer in trying to terminate a postal employee. The federal arbitrator ruled the county police officer was making up too many versions of what was suppose to have happened. The union said the postmaster kept changing the police officer’s tale for him. This employee was also reinstated with back pay and benefits. It wasn’t long after that the police officer was no longer a police officer too.

  • Inspector- FWIW – the person I was thinking about – is a Supervisor.

  • I wrote a longer version of this but I botched it and it was lost. So this is a 2nd attempt. And I’m not feeling as patient this go around.

    For all the negative stuff I’ve shared here on this thread- I have worked in far worse environments. The USPS is a workplace like any other, and like every other workplace, it has it’s own office dramas.

    If you are familiar with the Wal-mart distribution center- or have heard stories about how tough things are there, how nothing is wasted and everything is timed down to the second (that’s what I’ve heard anyway).

    Well I think they learned that from the USPS.

    The USPS has been measuring, compiling and keeping statistics on each and every workplace activity and has been doing so – long before wal-mart was the successful company it is today.

    I don’t know anyone at the Airport facility. And the people I do know- they don’t waste time. They’ve developed an efficiency that evolves with daily and yearly repetition.

    And yes- the Unions are less than perfect. But having worked in many non union private industry jobs- I’ve got to say. It’s much better to have a union with a contract that provides a reference-able framework which spells out the expectations of both parties (management and worker) and a contract that provides a quasi legal framework to address whatever issues might pop up that were not envisioned in the original contract (and does so in a fair manner to all parties).

    In my opinion Unions have failed workers in this country because they have lost/forgotten how they started. Unions used to be about moving people up. Helping bring people on board so that they could improve their standard of living and quality of life. Now if you’re lucky to have a job where there is a union, they seem to be only about- protecting what they have and forget about anyone else.

    To use sports terminology- they’re stuck on defense and can’t remember what offense or the original game plan looks like.

  • According to Google Maps, Sandston is about 80 miles from Charlottesville. If the worker moved to eastern Louisa it would be a much easier communte.

  • I work for a mid sized mailer. We have a customer that is reporting a much larger than usual non delivery in the zips serviced by the Richmond P&DC. Does anyone know of any major problems in delivery that have occured in connection with opening the new plant and the FSS?

    Thanks!
    Bill

  • Is the new plant open yet? I’m sure there are or will be problems. But I couldn’t tell you what.

Comments are currently closed.

Sideblog