Belgrade News: Tester, Daines push against U.S. Postal Service moving mail processing from Missoula to Spokane

by Mike Sunnucks

Jon Tester and Steve Daines are worried about the U.S. Postal Service moving some mail distribution and processing operations out of the state.

A USPS mail process review initiative is examining whether to move mail processing operations from the Missoula Processing & Distribution Center to Spokane, Washington.

The Post Office is looking at a number of operational changes throughout the country as part of a $40 billion, 10-year modernization and strategic review called the Delivering for America (DFA) Plan .

In a notice of intent related to the Montana facility issued last month, the Postal Service said it could shift some regional mail sorting processing from Montana to Washington.

“While it may be determined that moving some mail processing operations from the Missoula P&DC is a good business decision, it is highly likely under those circumstances that the Missoula facility will be modernized and repurposed as a Local Processing Center, a Sorting & Delivery Center, or both, consistent with the broader network redesign outlined in the DFA Plan. Any such repurposing will result in a revitalized, modernized, and upgraded facility with improved employee amenities and a better working environment.” USPS said in its notice of intent.

Both Tester, Democrat, and Daines, a Republican have written Postmaster General Louis DeJoy opposing any shifting of operations out of Missoula.

“I write to express my concerns regarding the United State Postal Service’s (USPS) current Mail Processing Facility Review (MPFR) of the Missoula Processing & Distribution Center (P&DC). I have serious concerns about potential out of state mail routing as well as any possibility of job losses in Missoula. While I appreciate the efforts of the USPS to modernize and improve services, I urge you to maintain existing operations at the Missoula P&DC as part of any future plans,” Daines said in a Feb. 13 letter to DeJoy.

In his own letter to the Postmaster General, Tester cited concerns about deliveries over Lookout Pass along the Idaho-Montana border and called for the Postal Service to “halt” the idea of relocating operations to Spokane.

“The Missoula P&DC is a critical part of postal operations in Montana,” Tester said in a Feb. 9 letter to DeJoy. “The center employs over a hundred Montanans and has served the community for decades. If processing were to be moved out of state, mail would get sent from Missoula more than 200 miles over two mountain passes to Spokane to be sorted before any of it is sent back to be delivered.”

“I urge you to halt any proposal to move Missoula operations to Spokane and refocus efforts on improving delivery standards in rural America,” concluded Tester.

Kim Frum, a USPS spokesperson, said the review of the Montana operations began in January and more details will be released in the coming weeks.

“The facility will not be closed, there will be no career employee layoffs, and Post Offices and delivery services will not be affected,” she said.

The Post Office is accepting public comments on the potential Montana move at