EVERETT — People in northwest Washington are likely to keep getting next-day delivery of first-class mail even though the U.S. Postal Service is cutting jobs and making other changes to an Everett processing center.
Last year, the Postal Service said next-day delivery would be a casualty of a planned shutdown of the mail processing center at 8120 Hardeson Road. The agency has now decided to keep the Everett facility open, but not as the region's processing center, which distributes mail from Lynnwood north to the Canadian border including all of Whatcom County. It will also have fewer employees.
Although mail now processed in Everett will soon be trucked to Tukwila for distribution, Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson doesn't expect delivery times to get longer. "They're telling me it should not make any difference," Swanson said last week.
A lawmaker who pushed to keep the Everett mail center open isn't so sure about that. In late 2011, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat whose 2nd District includes Whatcom County, visited the Everett facility and wrote to the postmaster general urging that it be kept open.
On Monday, Larsen's communications director, Bryan Thomas, said the congressman is pleased the facility will stay open but worries about timely delivery. "He is continuing to pressure Postal Service officials for an explanation as to how they plan to maintain efficient and timely mail service," Thomas said.
One change sharp-eyed postal customers will note is the loss of the "Everett" cancellation mark. Mail shipped to Tukwila near Boeing Field will get a Seattle cancellation mark. The "Everett" mark will be "something of an endangered species," Swanson said.
The change will come Feb. 23, Swanson said. Staff reductions at the facility have so far been through retirement incentives, not layoffs, he added.
"It's not going to close, but there's going to be a change," Swanson said. "Raw mail - unpostmarked, uncancelled mail from around northwest Washington - will be picked up and taken to Everett, then transported to Seattle to get the postmark."
As the region's processing center, the Everett facility handles about a million outgoing letters and parcels daily.
A year ago, when the Postal Service announced a likely closure of the Everett facility, Congress was hashing out a plan to shore up the agency's finances. Swanson said U.S. Postal Service continues to operate deeply in the red, losing about $25 million per day.
Downsizing in Everett is expected to come largely through retirements. Swanson didn't know the exact number of workers currently at the Everett facility, or how many jobs will be lost.
Thomas, from Larsen's office, said about 100 positions in Everett are expected to be lost to retirement, or to worker reassignment within 50 miles of Everett. A year ago, it was projected that 97 of the nearly 300 people working at the Everett facility would lose their jobs. Since 2006, Swanson said, the Postal Service has lost about 168,000 workers, about 24 percent of its former workforce.
A Postal Service study had estimated the closure would save $11.6 million per year. Larsen doubted the study had taken into account the full cost of moving processing to Seattle.
As far as any new legislation to rescue the Postal Service, Thomas said previous proposals expired at the end of the 112th Congress and no new legislation has yet been introduced.
Reach reporter Julie Muhlstein at 425-339-3460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.