Belgrade News: Bill aims to block USPS from moving regional mail operations out of Montana

by Mike Sunnucks

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, has introduced a measure aiming to block the U.S. Postal Service from moving regional mail processing out of the state.

Tester and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, are against a USPS plan to relocate regional mail processing operations from Missoula to Spokane, Washington.

USPS says the Missoula Processing and Distribution Center will become a modernized local mail sorting center and there will not be any layoffs of its more than 1,000 employees.

Tester has introduced new federal legislation that aims to “prohibit unnecessary and harmful consolidation of mail processing operations nationwide, according to an announcement from his office.

“The Postal Service is critical to Montana’s small businesses, seniors and veterans — and shortsighted decisions like relocating Missoula’s outgoing mail processing operations out-of-state won’t work for folks in rural America,” said Tester in a statement. “USPS leadership has failed to listen to the people of Montana time and time again, and it’s time to put a stop to their attack on service in rural America. My legislation will bring full operations back to Missoula and ensure that Postmaster DeJoy won’t be able to strip rural America of reliable service without public approval and legitimate justification ever again.”

The bill looks to put restrictions on USPS consolidation and relocation moves including reviewing the impact of mountain passes and the geography of new mail distribution flows as well as taking into account public feedback.

On April 30, the Postal Service announced more details on the future of the Montana mail processing center.

USPS said the Montana location will become a Local Processing Center and will get a $12.2 million upgrade.

“There will be no career employee layoffs,” USPS said in a statement on the changes.

Regional processing currently done in Montana will be shifted to Spokane, Washington, as part of $40 billion revamping of the Postal Service.

Daines, who lives in Belgrade, also wants the Post Office to reconsider its Montana decision.

I have serious concerns about mail delivery and potential job losses in MT as a result of this decision and will be pressing the Postal Service for answers and urging them to reconsider this decision,” Daines said in a statement.