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USPS considers consolidating services from Medford and Eugene to Portland

A rally in July in front of the Medford post office against the proposed changes.
Jeremy Schilling
A rally in July in front of the Medford post office against the proposed changes.

USPS says consolidating services would modernize the postal network and increase on-time deliveries. But the changes mean an estimated 18 employees in Medford and 36 employees in Eugene would lose their jobs, according to USPS.

The U.S. Postal Service is reviewing how to make operations more efficient in Medford and Eugene, a process called a mail processing facility review.

As a result, they’re considering moving outgoing mail services to a new regional processing and distribution center in Portland, which would act as a hub for the region.

USPS says the shift would improve efficiency and service, among other reasons. It’s part of the Postal Service’s 10-year nationwide plan called Delivering for America, published in 2021, which aims to modernize the aging network with $40 billion in investments and increase financial stability. Goals in the plan include improving technology, strengthening the delivery network, modernizing vehicles and infrastructure and delivering at least 95% of mail on time.

A notice from USPS in July says, "The Medford facility will remain open and will be modernized. It will be repositioned as a Local Processing Center for performing Destinating [sic] mail processing."

The goal is to create larger regional processing distribution centers as well as local processing centers, thereby reducing package handling and the amount of time that mail has to be in transit.

"The initial results of the study support keeping both the Medford and the Eugene facilities open. The plans were to modernize them as local processing centers with more simplified processes and standardized layouts. And again, the end goal being a far more efficient use of our resources," said Kim Frum, strategic communications specialist for USPS.

Jeremy Schilling is the president of the Southern Oregon Local American Postal Workers Union, #342. He said the changes would have a local cost to the services they provide.

"And then the additional cost would be to like the economic damage done to our region by removing these jobs. I don't think there's ever been a consolidation in any company that was a good thing for its employees," he said.

Schilling said the Delivering for America plan is "corporate doublespeak for reducing service standards and eliminating jobs throughout the country."

He's concerned about the dozens of jobs that could be eliminated.

"I can't overstate enough the economic impact that postal workers have on their community," he said. "I firmly believe that our economy needs these jobs considerably more than Eugene and Portland needs these jobs."

USPS says a final decision has not yet been made about Eugene and Medford, although a press release from April says design for the new center in Portland is already underway.

Frum said she did not know when the final decision will be made, but she said there will be no changes to customer mail services.

"We are going to still look into where the best changes are. Some places may get new equipment, more equipment, some places may have something taken away. It's still under study," she said.

According to the Delivering for America plan, the USPS "is in crisis. Our business and operating models are unsustainable and out of step with the changing needs of the nation and our customers. We have seen steep annual financial losses in the billions of dollars, unmet service performance goals, and less market relevancy as consumer behaviors have changed."

Without this plan, the USPS projects it will have an annual net income loss of over $23 billion in fiscal year 2030. With the plan, it projects an annual net income of $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2030.

This effort is occurring nationwide. Two post offices in Georgia are also currently undergoing mail processing facility reviews.

The Southern Oregon union will hold a rally against the changes at the Central Point Post Office on Saturday, Aug. 5, from 1 to 2 p.m. There will also be a rally on Saturday, Sept. 16 in front of Rep. Cliff Bentz's office in Medford, 14 N Central Avenue.

The Postal Service will hold a public meeting to answer questions about the proposed changes on Wednesday, Aug. 9, from 3-5 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Medford, 1000 Welcome Way. Feedback on the Medford changes can be submitted here.

Another public meeting to answer questions about the proposed changes will be held in Eugene on Tuesday, Aug. 8, from 3-5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express, 919 Kruse Way. Feedback on the Eugene changes can be submitted here.

USPS says the public's opinion will be considered before making a final decision.

Jane Vaughan is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. Jane began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media.