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."