A House committee has approved sweeping postal service legislation that could put the Norfolk post office's distribution center at risk of closure, according to an employee there who is also involved in the postal service's union.
Mark Snell, a mailing requirement clerk at the distribution center in downtown Norfolk, handles bulk mail at the center. He said two pieces of the legislation could directly affect the center - one that relaxes standard delivery services from one day to three, and another that scales delivery service back from six days to five.
A House committee approved HR-2309 by a vote of 22-18 last week. The bill is now slated to go before the full House. The legislation also allows for facilities to be consolidated, and Snell is worried that Norfolk's distribution center could be closed and consolidated with Richmond's.
About 450 people work at the center, he said. Under their contract, he said, they would be allowed to transfer to Richmond
"The Norfolk Processing and Distribution Center is on a list of facilities that are under consideration for consolidation into other facilities," Snell said. "Mail processing functions and cancellations could be moved to Richmond. Local mail would have its cancellation in Richmond and all local mail would be processed in Richmond. This is a very time-consuming and an expensive process - just in the amount of time it takes to transport the mail to Richmond and back."
Right now, postal customers in Norfolk who mail a letter to someone else in Norfolk can expect it to arrive in a day.
Delores Schilling, marketing director for Rocket Direct Communications in Virginia Beach, said her company depends on the Norfolk facility to help process more than 100,000 pieces a day. She said the mail is typically delivered the next day.
"The relationship between a mail house and their respective post office is one of trust and partnership," she said "We must rely on each other and work together to help our clients. The substations are usually targeted in these situations, and we believe that this may be the case here. If for some reason the decision is made to close the Norfolk [facility], we will do as we have in the past. We will adapt to the situation and take 100 percent of the change and discomfort on ourselves. We have a great deal of experience dealing with a multitude of postal regulation changes and rate changes. We have always been able to overcome any negative effects."
By Bill Cresenzo