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Without Coronavirus Fed Relief, Rochester’s Postal Operations Will Fizzle, Impacting Jobs, Businesses & Everyday Service Like Vital Medicine, Checks, Packages and More 

Schumer Met One-on-one With Postmaster & Warned Against Inaction and Atrophy; Senator Cited Delayed Medications, Paychecks & More In Plea To Get Stamp Of Approval On Rochester-Finger Lakes Region’s USPS Funds

Schumer: Even A Back Of The Envelope Calculation Shows Rochester Would Be Amongst The Hardest Hit If Action Is Not Taken

After a one-on-one meeting with new USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed that the Rochester Finger Lakes region’s post offices and door-to-door services, along with its countless customers and businesses, and approximately 2200 workers in the Rochester Finger Lakes region, face a giant axe if the administration does not —like it has in prior pandemic relief bills—meet in the middle and negotiate a new and urgently needed ‘COVID-4’ relief bill. Such negotiations are now on pause in Congress and Schumer warned of the dire situation facing Rochester New York facilities and personnel if USPS leadership does not fulfill its primary mission and support its agency.

“Last week, I met one-on-one with Postmaster General DeJoy and unfortunately my very serious concerns for the Rochester Finger Lakes region’s postal operations, workforce and customers still remain,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Rochester’s 2,200 postal jobs, and the postal operations of the entire region are at stake. So, a place like Rochester, with two mail processing centers, will feel the results of inaction first. From there, it would only get worse. We are here today for two reasons. First, we’re here to make a case for the administration that they have to meet in the middle and negotiate on pandemic relief for the USPS. Second, to urge USPS leaders like Louis DeJoy to back this place up. The whole Rochester Finger Lakes region depends on it.”

Today, standing at the U.S. Post Office’s Brighton Station branch in the City of Rochester Schumer explained that approximately 2,200 of the 6,093 USPS in the Western New York District work in the Rochester Finger Lakes region.  Schumer said that the main Rochester Post Office on Jefferson Road in Henrietta with about 500 workers and the Northwest Rochester Logistics and Distribution Center on Lyell Avenue with about 300 workers are two of the three processing facilities in the USPS’ Western New York District and that they cannot risk a major slash or closure, a scenario the facility and Rochester area postal services could face without deserved pandemic relief. 

Between the three processing facilities – Henrietta, Lyell Ave, and Buffalo - in the USPS’ Western New York District, USPS has already processed more than 60 million parcels since January, which is a 25% increase from the same point in 2019. Schumer warned that without negotiated pandemic relief for the USPS, Rochester jobs, businesses and everyday postal service in the Rochester Finger Lakes region would be changed --for the worse. He detailed his recent meeting with DeJoy and explained how he pushed the postmaster on these issues of delayed medications, consumer goods, paychecks and more as he made a public case for Congress to act and for the Postmaster General to heed the concerns of postal professionals and the public. 

As it relates to Rochester and its 2,200 USPS workers and countless customers, Schumer said he is concerned because the USPS recently directed operational changes in post offices and processing centers. On August 7, 2020, the USPS also announced a significant reorganization of Postal Service leadership and functions, which could impact Rochester. These changes include the elimination of extra mail transportation trips, the reduction of overtime, the start of a pilot program for mail sorting and delivery policies at hundreds of post offices, and the reduction equipment at mail processing plants. Schumer said these decisions absolutely have an impact on Rochester and all of Western New York, a case he made to the postmaster.

“Because Rochester is home to two major distribution centers – Jefferson Rd in Henrietta and Lyell Avenue in the City of Rochester,” Schumer warned.

In urging the postmaster, both in letters and personally, Schumer argued the Postal Service is an “essential public institution with an obligation to serve every community in the nation.” Schumer told DeJoy he should not make changes that will slow down mail or compromise service for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail for medicines, essential goods, voting, correspondence, and for their livelihoods.  The Postal Service has characterized these changes as efficiency or cost-saving measures and add they minimized any “temporary service issues” as an “inevitable” side effect of implementing new procedures, Schumer and colleagues noted in a recent letter.

Schumer has argued that in the midst of a pandemic, these actions, whether intentional or not, are already causing mail delays across the country and appear to constitute an unacceptable threat to the Postal Service and the millions of Americans who depend on it. According to Time, amid the pandemic, many postal service employees have seen their workload double because Americans started ordering more medicine and food online from inside their homes. But the volume of letter mail – the USPS’s biggest revenue stream – has fallen. In April, the U.S. Postmaster General, told the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that revenue losses this fiscal year could reach $13 billion. Schumer said that the USPS is like any other business that has been provided relief and assistance and that the numbers prove they’ve been hard hit.

Schumer was joined by Kenny Montgomery President of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 210, Rob Stahl President of the American Postal Workers Union Local 215, Jerry Smith of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 309, and two Monroe County residents adversely impacted by recent USPS delivery delays: Mark Ellenwood, owner of Ellenwood Electric a 35-year old Rochester small business and Brighton resident Judy Schwartz. 

Schumer explained he has received dozens of complaint calls to his office in recent weeks from USPS customers throughout the Rochester Finger Lakes region.  Mark Ellenwood, a Master Electrician who founded his small electrician business in the City of Rochester 35 years ago contacted Schumer to complain that the USPS delayed in delivering vital business work contracts he was counting on to receive in order to keep his business on track.  Mark explained the Coronavirus pandemic severely impacted his usual business volume and as he struggles now to regain his footing he was relying on getting these contracts he needed to begin new customer jobs.  Mark is a subscriber of the USPS ‘Informed Delivery’ service which allows consumers to see and digitally preview the mail and packages arriving that day to their mailbox, and he saw that the contracts were to be included in his next delivery but they didn’t arrive for several days.  When he inquired to the USPS about the because of the delay he was told that the usual USPS mail delivery trucks had not arrived in Rochester for two days.

Similarly, Judy Schwartz a Brighton resident and leader of the Virginia Colony neighborhood association contacted Schumer after she and her neighbors went days over successive weeks without mail delivery.  She explained her mail carriers work very hard and diligently which made these delivery lapses very concerning.  She was also contacted by another neighborhood leader dealing with similar complaints.  

Kenny Montgomery President of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 210 said, “Senator Schumer continues to be a leading advocate for the postal service in the United States Senate and we thank him for his leadership, guidance and assistance. At a time when the country is suffering the worst pandemic since 1918, the Postal Service like a lot of other businesses in this country, is struggling and we need the help of Congress now. The NALC calls on Congress to act now and provide funding relief to the Postal Service as it already has provided to many other companies across America. Further we call on the Postmaster General to stop delaying the mail and allow postal workers to once again provide the "First Class" service the American public have come to expect.... and the "First Class" service the American public deserves.”

Jerry Smith, NPMHU Branch President Local 309 in Rochester said, “The National Postal Mail Handlers Union would like to thank Senator Schumer for his leadership in supporting the United States Postal Service and his efforts to secure vital funding.  The USPS is an institution not only cherished and trusted by the American people, but has provided uninterrupted service during this pandemic.  USPS employees are essential and the driving force behind this institution.  The delay of mail during this pandemic is disheartening and unnecessary.  The American people deserve some stability during this time of uncertainty and rely on the USPS to provide delivery of essentials such as medicines, medical equipment, food, etc.”

Rob Stahl, President, Rochester Area APWU Local 215 said, “The American Postal Workers Union would like to thank Senator Schumer for his support in attempting to secure critical funding for the USPS needed to continue its vital role in our ailing economy. Postal employees are essential, hard-working employees that cannot save the people's Post Office alone and are grateful for Senator Schumer's assistance in restoring and preserving the excellent service the American public have come to expect.”

“The bottom-line for the Rochester Finger Lakes region is that even a “back of the envelope” calculation shows that postal operations here would be amongst the hardest hit if action is not taken and if leadership within the agency does not make the right decisions, and we cannot have that and I will not go for it,” Schumer concluded.