About a dozen workers come into the Terre Haute mail processing center at 3:30 p.m. each day. They used to sort through mail that would be shipped across the U.S. That stopped this week. Now, they are sitting with nothing to do but are still getting paid.
It’s the result of a nationwide consolidation plan. The Postal Service moved the processing of its outgoing mail from Terre Haute to Indianapolis, but because of a union contract, none of the workers can be laid off or transferred more than 50 miles.
Ann Barnes is the President of the Terre Haute local of the American Postal Workers Union. She says the Postal Service is negotiating with union representatives in an attempt to find ways to for the employees to either retire or be assigned other jobs.
“In the meantime they went ahead and took the mail, they’re paying extra for the transportation, they’re paying the people in Indianapolis to process it, while our people are being paid to sit around and wait for something to do,” Barnes says.
U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Mary Dando did not say how much this is costing. But, she says, it’s necessary to save money in the long term.
“When it’s fully implemented we’ll see cost reductions of about $1.2 billion, but we’re just going through this process,” Dando says.
The Bloomington and Columbus facilities could find themselves in a similar situation in the next few weeks when the rest of their mail processing is transferred to Indianapolis.