Monday, February 5, 2007
Postal Service Promises Fixes By April
By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
The Postal Service says it plans to have new equipment in place by April that should improve mail delivery.
Post Office spokesman Sam Bolen said that despite the recent uproar over job cuts, the changes should make it easier to sort mail and get it to carriers earlier in the day.
The union representing postal employees has criticized the Postal Service and argued that plans to cut 40 jobs in the area will worsen service.
Bolen said service should get better.
Equipment expected to arrive in March will make the mail-sorting process more efficient, he said. But the changes will lead to some restructuring of employee duties and job locations.
The end result is that mail should reach field offices by 8:30 a.m. and start to hit the streets several hours sooner than usual, Bolen said.
Some employees will be reassigned, he said, with many moving from the field offices to the main postal plant on Broadway.
"We'll need everybody," Bolen said. "We'll just have to put them in other places."
Gene Gabaldon, president of the local American Postal Workers Union, said the changes could increase lines at post offices in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. The Postal Service is cutting clerk jobs at retail post offices around town and moving those employees to the mail plant on Broadway, he said.
"These 40 jobs are coming out of post offices throughout the city, and that's only going to increase the lines at the retail window," Gabaldon said. "It doesn't make any sense."
In addition, he said postal managers are overstating how much the automation will improve mail delivery, as most stations already have similar equipment. Gabaldon did agree that homes served by carriers from the Pino station on Paradise NW and the Rio Rancho station should see faster mail delivery because of the new equipment.
Bolen said the equipment some of which will be at the main Broadway plant should quicken mail delivery to a broad chunk of north-central New Mexico.
Regardless, he said, the coming changes are best described as "redeploying our workforce," not job cuts. The affected employees will still be working for the Postal Service and, where possible, placed in jobs with duties similar to what they were doing before, he said.
"No one will lose employment," Bolen said. "They will just be reassigned to jobs in our new redesigned work flow."
Bolen's public comments this week came after postal officials talked by phone with Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.. In a stern letter, Wilson recently told the Post Office that she had heard an increasing number of complaints and wanted to know how "these chronic problems" would be addressed, especially in light of the debate over job cuts.
Wilson's office said she would monitor the situation to make sure service improves.