BANGOR, Maine — A small group of disgruntled mail processors picketed outside the United States post office on Friday in response to recent changes that have resulted in less work for postal employees in eastern Maine.
Marching outside the federal building in a light mist, the dozen or so mail processors and handlers carried signs that read “service first” and “keep the mail here.”
Richard Reed Jr., president of the Bangor Area Local 536 chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, said Friday’s demonstration was more about public awareness than a futile attempt to reverse any decisions.
“We want to let the public know because all these changes were made without public knowledge or input,” he said.
At issue is a decision made by the USPS in August to shift some mail processing from the Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Facility in Hampden to a newer, more technologically impressive facility in southern Maine. Reed said that in recent weeks additional processing changes also have been made related to Saturday mail, which has further decreased the workload in Hampden.
“From our standpoint, it has really affected our service standards,” he said, pointing to significant delays.
Tom Rizzo, Maine spokesman for USPS in Maine, previously has characterized the processing changes as a necessary response to a sagging economy and a sharp decrease in mail volume. He said all decisions come down to maximizing efficiency, even if those decisions are not always popular with all employees.
“We understand that they are concerned about some of the changes, and we understand that it’s uncomfortable for some,” Rizzo said Friday. “But, it’s always reassuring to look at all the facts, and those facts don’t always bear out these charges.”
Rizzo referenced recent quarterly services scores, compiled by an independent agency, that showed the USPS at record levels.
“This is hard data that does not support what they are saying,” he said, referring to allegations of lengthy delays.
Reed said his biggest fear is not necessarily a lesser workload but that some employees might be forced to relocate to the southern Maine plant in Scarborough in order to survive. As many as 200 postal workers are employed in Hampden.
“That’s something that is certainly possible,” the union head said.
Rizzo said any personnel changes would be made in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement between the local union and the USPS.