SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - US Postal Inspector police arrested 7 protesters who refused to leave a loading dock at the Gateway processing center Monday.
The protesters claim the processing center is slated for closure in February 2014, eliminating local jobs.
Ron Schare with the Postal Service said the facility would not close in February, although the center is on the Post Office's list for possible closure in the future.
The Gateway processing center has been on the chopping block in recent years as the Post Office copes with budget deficits. If closed, a piece of mail sent from Eugene to Springfield would first go through a central processing center in Portland.
On Monday - the busiest day of the year for the Post Office - pro-labor groups, postal workers and their supporters all gathered at Gateway unified on a single message: Don't close the mail processing center.
Songs from the Raging Grannies choir kept things light, but the message from union supporters was dead serious.
“It's not necessary. The Postal Service is not broke. The Postmaster General needs to back off and let Congress do its job,” said local activist and former Postal employee Jamie Partridge.
While Partirdge said he believes the closure is set for February, a current union official told KVAL News uncertainty on the timing is hurting morale.
According to Brad Pelky, vice president of the Eugene/Springfield local of the American Postal Workers Union, “They won't tell us, so we're on the list, but we don't know.”
Pelky said 120 to 160 jobs are at stake and union leaders say with all the sorting to be done from the Portland regional center, local mail deliveries will be delayed.
However, Postal Service officials said that's incorrect.
US Postal Service regional spokesperson John Friess released the following statement Monday:
"The Postal Service is committed to providing the type of service our customers have come to expect and deserve. We are evaluating the facility consolidation schedule while we pursue comprehensive legislative reform that ensures the long term viability of the Postal Service.
"However, any information that states that our customers would see two and three day delays to the regular delivery of their mail as a result of this action is misguided and incorrect. Furthermore, no jobs will be lost if any consolidations occur and retail services would not be impacted."