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Queens Chronicle

Whitestone postal plant will stay open

USPS overturns decision after public outcry

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Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 10:30 am

The United States Postal Service has reversed its decision to close the Whitestone Distribution and Processing facility at 140-02 20 Ave., but not everyone is ready to celebrate just yet.

“We’re cautious,” said Stephen Larkin, executive vice president of the Flushing branch of the American Postal Workers Union. “It’s going to remain open for the moment.”

Larkin said that if the federal government doesn’t take action to get the USPS out of debt, the Whitestone plant could be on the chopping block again in 2014 or sooner.

The agency had planned to shut down the center, citing a decline in mail volume and mounting debt. The move would have shifted 1,140 jobs out of Queens.

But after public outcry from postal customers, civic groups, the community board and postal unions, the agency decided against closing the facility.

In addition to job loss, the shutdown would have resulted in Queens mail being transported 12 miles to be sorted at a plant in Brooklyn. The strategy was based on the idea of changing the one-day standard of delivery for first-class mail to two to three days.

“The plan to move the center’s responsibilities to the Brooklyn distribution location was a horrible idea that would have reduced the borough’s accessibility to a critical facility that hundreds of thousands of people rely upon,” Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens and Nassau) said in a prepared statement. “I thank postal officials for finally coming to their senses, and for realizing how adversely impacted Queens would have been if this facility was closed.”

But others will not be spared. The USPS announced on May 17 that it is moving ahead with slashing its processing facility network. The first phase of 140 consolidations will take place before the end of February of 2013. If no action is taken to ease the USPS’s financial burden, the second and final phase of 89 consolidations will begin in February of 2014, the agency said.

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