Workers at the United States Postal Service postal center in Redmond are protesting as their facility, known as the East DDC, is in danger of being closed.
Union Steward at the East DDC, Robert Jared, said the facility processes letters and mail for many zip codes in Bellevue, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Bothell, Snoqualmie and other East King County communities.
But union members are not necessarily concerned about losing their jobs, as many employees would just be relocated within 15 miles of the current facility. He and other members are concerned that shutting down the East DDC facility would impact the delivery times and service capacity in the entire region.
They are calling the move part of the “Great Mail Slowdown,” part of a scheme they believe Postmaster Louis DeJoy is responsible for
Jared said the East DDC has been slated for closure multiple times in the last few decades, with the second attempt ending in a moratorium after a grievance was filed. He says the facility has lost many of its machines that help sort mail already, and they are understaffed.
According to Jared, if the facility is closed down, the mail processing will just be moved farther South to facilities in Kent and even Tacoma. He says cost-saving is being used as a justification for the closure, but estimates that costs of trucking mail to further distances will be more costly.
“It is crazy to close a facility that serves all of those communities,” he said.
Signs held by the protestors criticized DeJoy’s strategy of ending the century-old practice of air-mail in favor of increased trucking. They also claim DeJoy has financial ties to the trucking industry as a former CEO of a trucking company.
Jared said he believes the closure of the facility is part of a much broader scheme to privatize the postal service, in a way that allows investors to “dip their hands” into a growing e-commerce industry.
“It was never meant to be a private industry,” said Redmond City Councilmember Jessica Forsythe, who showed up in support of the protesters on Oct. 1.
Vice President of the postal workers union, David Yao, said administrators are using cost savings as justification for shutting down the facility, but there is no evidence that a closure would actually save money.
Yao said the most optimistic estimates show that the move would only save a one-quarter of one-percent of the budget.
He said under DeJoy’s leadership USPS has seen a drop in mail-on-time scores that have not yet recovered since he has been at the helm of the agency. Yao said he is concerned about how “disruptive” the closure would be to an already under-resourced service and instead wishes that administrators would improve and invest in what they already have.
The union estimates that mail that once would have taken three days to deliver, will now take closer to five and that this will disproportionately impact the already disadvantaged communities like seniors, low-income and those in rural areas.
It is not yet clear when a final decision will be made about the facilities closure, and employees feel like they are being left in the dark.