Workers fight to keep USPS processing center open

FLORENCE,SC (WMBF) - The bill to consolidate or shut down hundreds of United States Postal processing centers is on the senate floor. The Florence location is also on the chopping block. Some of the postal workers say they will continue to fight to keep their jobs in Florence.

Workers at the Florence USPS processing center tell me the closure will have a huge economic impact on this community affecting more than 160 jobs and could slow down your mail delivery.

"We want to save our postal service," said Robert Davis, the Florence area local president for USPS.

Even after USPS announced plans to shut down the Florence USPS processing center, workers say they won't give up without a fight.

"We're contacting our senators, our congressman's and we're asking the community to do the same," said Davis.

The Florence processing center serves the Pee Dee and Grand Strand areas, but the threat of closure could slow down your mail. The next closest processing center is in Columbia.

"If the bill passes in congress and the senate, mail that is delivered now overnight will become 2-3 day or 3-4 day mail, packages will take longer," said Sophia McDowell, National postal mail handling branch president for the Florence post office.

But the cuts will affect more than just mail.

"It will have a major impact on jobs, on taxes that's being paid in Florence... everything," said McDowell.

"This place is jobs to the community, all communities are in competition for jobs and we're no different," said Davis.

Postal workers are also concerned about the effect the closure might have on the local economy.

"You're talking about $600,000 of purchase power out of the community, it's not only going to affect us, but what about small businesses that rely on us to buy things from them and large businesses," said Isaac Nixon, Vice President of the postal worker union for the Florence post office.

The bill to cut hundreds of processing centers is now on the senate floor, but some senators are proposing changes to the bill which may keep some processing centers alive.

An amendment to the bill keeps about half of the mail processing centers open - focusing on centers located in rural communities.

It also keeps Saturday mail service for another two years, and overnight mail service in some areas.

Florence USPS workers are speaking out in hopes of getting more community members involved in the fight.

"Everybody's in this fight, everybody has a struggle going on right now and we gotta let our officials know we're not going to take this anymore, we want jobs for our people and that's what we need jobs, without jobs, we're nothing," said Davis.

The senate only has a short few weeks to come up with a decision on the issue before the processing closures begin.

The moratorium keeping the agency from closing the mail processing center ends May 15.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.