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Waite Park mail center public meeting set for Dec. 22

Waite Park mail center public meeting set for Dec. 22 Click to Enlarge Photo:

Dec 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

WAITE PARK, Minn. (KNSI) - The U.S. Postal Service set a date of Dec. 22 for a public meeting to discuss whether work at its Waite Park mail processing facility should be moved to Minneapolis next year, a postal service spokesman said.

Community members will be able to offer their opinions on the plan Thursday, Dec. 22 at the St. Cloud Holiday Inn on 37th Avenue South. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

Postal officials will give residents an overview of the area's mail processing needs and the finances involved in the Waite Park facility operation as well as allowing for public comment on the possible change, Service regional spokesman Pete Nowacki said.

Nowacki said that while a decision to move mail sorting from Waite Park to Minneapolis would dramatically impact operations here, it would not mean the complete closure of the local plant.

"There is still some mail processing related work that needs to be done as far as distributing mail for associate offices surrounding St. Cloud, so there would still be some dock operations and things like that. But as far as cancelling mail, running mail on machines and sorting everything, delivery order -- that would all be moved down to Minneapolis," Nowacki said.

About 69 positions among Waite Park's 145 current postal employees would be impacted, Nowacki said.

"That means that there could possibly be more employees in St. Cloud whose jobs would be changed or they would be going into other positions, Nowacki said. However, it doesn't mean current employees would be laid off. Despite 115,000 Postal Service positions nationwide eliminated over the past 5 years of drastic agency downsizing, Nowacki said no employees have been laid off.

"We work with our unions. We work within the confines of our collective bargaining agreements...we're hoping to work our way through this and hopefully, we'll be able to keep everybody on and keep everybody working," Nowacki said.

A preliminary study of the Waite Park facility showed the Postal Service could save $5 to $5.5 million by shifting operations from St. Cloud to Minneapolis. However, that study still needs to account for whether Minneapolis has the compacity to take on the full St. Cloud workload and whether transportation was in place to maintain current service standards, Nowacki said.

"The idea is that we want to be able to provide regular and effective service to customers and that plays a role in the decision-making process as well," Nowacki said.

A final decision on Waite Park's fate is expected early next year. If the move is approved, operations would move out of Waite Park by April.

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