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Palatine postal workers protest job shifts
By Kimberly Pohl | Daily Herald Staff

Postal workers from around the suburbs picket in front of the Palatine mail processing center on Tuesday shouting "Keep the mail here" as they plan to ship all first class mail away from this facility to the Carol Stream facility which could result in job loss.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Postal worker Agnes Tak of Streamwood walks the picket line with fist held high as she protests in front of the Palatine mail processing center on Tuesday, shouting "Keep the mail here."

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Postal worker Ferdinand Samaniego of Arlington Heights leads the charge with fellow workers protest in front of the Palatine mail processing center on Tuesday.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Postal clerk Benny Joseph and sons, David,12, and Benjamin of DesPlaines protest in front of the Palatine mail processing center on Tuesday.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

About 100 picketers shouting "Keep the mail here" are protesting in front of Palatine's mail processing center that the mail normally processed at the Palatine facility is now being consolidated to the Carol Stream facility taking away jobs.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Postal worker Ramon Deperalta who works in the Carol Stream facility makes out signs before the picket lines begins in front of the Palatine's processing center.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/23/2010 12:10 PM | Updated: 3/23/2010 4:44 PM

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Nearly 100 U.S. Postal Service employees and supporters demonstrated Tuesday morning outside the Palatine Processing and Distribution Center in an effort to keep jobs and operations at the facility.

They marched in a circle along Northwest Highway, chanting "Save our service!", waving signs reading "Moving the Mail is Delaying the Mail!" and "Let us do our jobs here!"

In an effort to save $10 million annually, the postal service next month will begin transitioning certain mail operations to a similar facility in Carol Stream, relocating up to 50 workers there and reassigning another 130 to positions potentially much farther away.

"We realize it's a drastic measure to hold a picket, but employees felt strongly they needed to be heard," said Jackie Engelhart, president of the American Postal Workers Union's Northwest Illinois Area Local chapter. "They feel these changes will present great hardships for them."

Postal service spokesman Tim Ratliff emphasized that no workers will be laid off.

He said the move, expected to wrap up in July, is necessary due to an unprecedented decline in mail volume and a projected $238 billion shortfall during the next decade.

"Change is hard and we respect that," Ratliff said. "But the reality is that we have an excessive amount of equipment, facilities and staffing to process our declining mail volume."

Ratliff added that despite the union's claims, customers won't experience any delay in service and will still be able to drop off business mailers at the Palatine facility.

But Engelhart said volume can double the day after a holiday, and that delays are inevitable because some mail has to be transported from Palatine to Carol Stream and back again before a certain time.

Especially vulnerable, she said, are older workers being moved from indoor jobs to mail carrier positions and those who've suffered work-related injuries, such as Arlington Heights resident Susan Cordero.

The available jobs they are able to perform are limited, increasing the likelihood of being reassigned as far away as Des Moines, Iowa.

"I've even heard Pittsburgh is a possibility, but my therapy and doctor's appointments are here and it's obviously hard to sell a house right now," Cordero said.

"I'm a hard worker but I'm being penalized because I can't physically do some things."