Illinois postal workers march for transparency amid changes at the USPS

Outside the Springfield Post Office on East Cook Street on May 3, more than 100 members of the American Postal Workers Union marched with signs outside calling for transparency of information about the future of the Springfield distribution center and the future of the postal service in Illinois. know what we are prepared for and what we need to work on now,” said Johnny Bishop, president of the American Postal Workers Union Springfield.

The fate of Springfield’s package distribution center

Springfield residents had until April 10 to complete a survey with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to voice their opinions on the changes before the USPS changes were set to begin.

During the picket line, Bishop said Jeff Bridges, president of the National Postal Mailhandlers of the Springfield chapter, was informed of the affected numbers for the Springfield distribution center, but the actual number was not provided by USPS.

More: Central Illinois residents may soon experience increased delays in receiving their mail

The Springfield Mail Processing and Distribution Center is a hot topic for residents of central and southern Illinois who will be affected by the proposed changes to the United States Postal Service. The changes, part of the decade-long Delivering for America plan, would see local mail sent from Springfield to St. Louis, Missouri for sorting and processing. The processed mail would then return to the Illinois inbox via state lines.

The plan would turn 58 processing and distribution centers into smaller local processing centers, including the Springfield distribution center.

At the picket line, union workers from across the state shared their passion through signs and chants to “dump DeJoy” and protect the importance of the local postal service.

“I hope the Postal Service will come back to the negotiating table and realize the impact it will have on (Illinois),” said Michelle Elliott, member of Local 0001 Chicago APW. “It’s not that easy to just jump up and move because you have to think about your home, your doctors and your kids in schools.”

Springfield is further down the list to find out where the mail is going in central Illinois, and city officials are still waiting for an answer.

“We haven’t heard anything,” Springfield Chief of Staff Mike Disco said. “A letter was sent and lawmakers also sent letters to Postmaster General DeJoy.”

State lawmakers are working against the USPS’ proposed changes.

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, with Reps. Eric Sorensen, Mary Miller and Nikki Budzinski mentioned the life-threatening situations Illinoisians could face as the USPS tries to save money in a letter to Postmaster General DeJoy.

On May 1, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza sent a letter to DeJoy, citing concerns that the downsizing of Springfield’s distribution center would affect important documents such as checks and taxes. In the letter, Mendoza continued that without analysis to ensure there would be no delay in packages, the shift should not occur.

“My office sends approximately 11,000 checks per day to home health care workers, child care providers and other government providers and vendors,” Mendoza said. “Even a one-day delay can cause serious problems for these providers and companies.”

Springfield Mayor Misty Buscher, Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, and nine other Springfield councilors also rebuked the proposed changes in March.

More: ‘Short-sighted’ plan to change mail process in central Illinois is angering residents

‘It defies logic’

The Postal Service said two-day delivery will not be affected by the proposed new changes, but some question the effectiveness of the changes.

“The (USPS) has changed delivery standards,” said Bob Gunter, president of the Illinois Postal Workers Union. “Why did they add an extra day to delivery – if this is such a good deal and the mail gets delivered faster. They know the mail won’t be delivered any faster.”

USPS also claims that the changes taking effect will save the company between $1.7 million and $2.2 million annually if the plan has no layoffs but “impacts” on employment; instead, 18 jobs at the Springfield location will be “impacted” by these job changes in the local office.

“I really feel like the United States Postal Service is truly an American treasure,” Gunter said. “They’re going to take the mail two hours away to St. Louis and sort the mail – and then take it back another two hours and try to tell us that will be more efficient? Will the mail be delivered faster? We know that’s not true. It defies logic.”

Claire Grant writes about business, growth and development and other news topics for the State Journal-Register. She can be reached at [email protected]; and on X (formerly known as Twitter): @Claire_Granted