Up to 130 Palatine postal employees to be reassigned

Published: 2/5/2010 12:01 AM

U.S. Postal Service officials announced this week over union objections that plans to move certain operations from Palatine to Carol Stream - and reassign 130 employees - are moving forward.

Beginning in April, some mail processing operations that currently take place at the Palatine Processing and Distribution Center on Northwest Highway will be relocated to a similar facility in Carol Stream.

"Given the drastic decline in mail volume the Postal Service has experienced, with a decline of 26 billion pieces this past year, we must take action to reduce the size of our mail processing network," Northern Illinois District Manager Bob Hart said in a statement.

The postal service estimates $10 million in annual savings.

Representatives with the American Postal Workers Union have said the move will cause delivery delays because mail collected in the 600 ZIP code will be transported 18 miles to Carol Stream, sorted by town, and then transported back to Palatine for further sorting by individual ZIP code and mail route.

However, postal service officials reiterated local mail service will not be affected by the move, which will be completed by July.

"It would be foolish after all the studies, town hall hearings and public input to do this if we couldn't think we could maintain the same service," spokesman Sean Hargadon said.

The union, which couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, also wants to protect up to 180 employees affected by the move. Between 40 and 50 workers will be relocated to Carol Stream and another 130 employees will reassigned to different jobs, including as mail handlers, clerks and carriers.

Hargadon said the affected employees won't see any change in compensation or benefits. The selection process is generally based on seniority, though the union's collective bargaining agreement could have other provisions, such as preference to veterans.

Hargadon said he couldn't rule out the possibility of employees being reassigned to other districts hundreds of miles away.

"We don't want that to happen because people have families and lives here," Hargadon said. "We look locally within the district first, but it's always a possibility it could happen."

Bulk shipments for 600 and 602 ZIP codes will continue to be received in Palatine. The facility will also remain open for business mailers, though the hours may be shifted earlier, the postal service said.

Currently, there are about 1,200 employees at Carol Stream and 1,330 at Palatine.