In a move that will shift 1,000 jobs out of Queens, the United States Postal Service has decided to close its processing and distribution center in Whitestone, though congressional approval of a change in the delivery standard is needed before the agency can proceed.
The USPS wants to move the Queens operation to a plant in Brooklyn, and the affected Whitestone employees may be assigned to other vacant positions as per their contracts, according to Frank Calabrese, district manager of the Postal Service’s Triboro District.
Citing a decline in mail and mounting debt, the USPS most recently began looking at where cuts could be made last September. That research has now been completed, the agency said.
Queens mail would be transported 12 miles to be sorted at the plant in Brooklyn, producing an estimated annual savings of nearly $30.8 million. The plan is based on the idea of changing the one-day standard of delivery for first-class mail to two to three days, something that does not have to be approved by Congress to be implemented.
No further steps will be taken prior to May 15, in compliance with the Postal Service’s moratorium on closing or consolidating facilities. The delay was implemented in order to allow time for Congress and the agency to come up with different plans.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) blasted the Postal Service for announcing its decision when it did.
"Rather than take advantage of the time that has been bought for USPS by Congress in a recent moratorium on post office closures, USPS has decided to finalize their plans to shut down this facility,” Stavisky said in a prepared statement. “This is like governmental Jeopardy — the USPS has the answers before we've asked the questions.
"They have refused my and my community's requests for more information and more time to study the closure before executing it. This will be devastating to our neighborhood, and many of my constituents' livelihoods will be in peril. We deserve better, but USPS seems to make bad decisions first, and ask questions later."
The Postal Service had also intended to shutter five stations in Queens that serve the public, but decided over the last several months against closing each one.