Yuba mail facility closure could slow service | TheUnion.com

Yuba mail facility closure could slow service

The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that the Olivehurst mail sorting facility will close by October, with its operations moved to a larger sorting facility in West Sacramento in June.

In addition to Yuba and Sutter counties, the Olivehurst facility sorts mail from all ZIP codes starting with 959, covering Nevada, Butte, and Colusa counties as well.

Supervisor Mary Jane Griego, who represents Olivehurst and others said they are concerned about how the closure will affect local mail service, pointing to when the USPS made a similar move in 2005.

The result then was a five-day delay in mail sent between Marysville and Yuba City. Nevada County customers also complained during the same time period.

“I think they’ll find out they made a mistake this time like they made a mistake last time,” said Linda-area Supervisor Andy Vasquez, who was also involved in efforts to keep the Olivehurst facility open. “And we’re the ones who end up holding the bag.”

Ruiz said mail service won’t be affected, because the Postal Service has already figured out how to maintain the same level of service once the transfer is complete.

Yuba County officials and others involved in the effort to keep the Olivehurst site open expressed anger, disappointment and confusion.

The announcement came at the end of a long study by the Postal Service on how to improve efficiencies and cut costs.

“We have to draw the line here. We’re not gong to take this lying down,” Griego said. “These postal jobs are great jobs to have.”

Rick Page, president of the Area Local 211 of the American Postal Workers Union, said he thought momentum was on the side of keeping open the 5050 Arboga Road facility.

After word began to circulate last fall about the facility’s possible closure, locals opposed to it held rallies, got hundreds of people to sign petitions, attacked the idea at a town hall meeting and pointed out problems with the West Sacramento facility.

Olivehurst’s site has typically received high marks from the Postal Service for efficiency and performance, while West Sacramento’s has not.

“I thought we’d put up a good enough fight to prove we’ll run operations here better than they can there,” Page said.

He also questioned the Postal Service’s claims of cost savings, because postal officials haven’t released financial documents to back that up, he said.

“We can’t pick through to see what’s real,” he said.

At the December town hall meeting, a postal district manager said the move would save USPS about $4.5 million.

About 170 employees work at the Olivehurst facility. USPS spokesman Augustine Ruiz said union contracts mean they’ll be reassigned to other facilities, though some may be out of the area.

The move is necessary, Ruiz said, because the district including Yuba and Sutter counties has lost about 20 percent of its mail volume since its peak in 2006, much of it business mail.

“This is a decision we labored over extensively,” Ruiz said. “What we’re trying to do is survive.”

Griego and Vasquez said they haven’t given up on the facility’s closure, with Griego saying she’ll lobby on its behalf during a planned trip to Washington, D.C., next month.

Another Yuba County voice will be heard sooner, that of Agriculture Commissioner Louie Mendoza. He said he’ll raise the issue when he’s in the nation’s capital next week for a meeting.

The Olivehurst facility’s closure, he said, will affect the county’s ability to do agricultural inspections for pests and plants from elsewhere.

“My understanding is the ag commissioner’s office in Yolo County doesn’t have the resources to inspect the mail daily,” Mendoza said, adding he issues about 20 “stop” notices a year to suspicious packages he finds at the Olivehurst site.

“With no one to inspect the products and packages, it’ll be a free run for whatever anyone wants to mail in,” Mendoza said.

Yuba County Clerk-Recorder Terry Hansen said she’s also concerned, because mail delays could mean problems for vote-by-mail ballots in the November election.

“We did not see improved service when they did this the last time,” she said.

But Ruiz said he doubts the Postal Service will change its mind again.

“This move just makes good business sense,” he said.

“We realize the employees are very proud of the job they did, and they did a good job,” he said. “We’re taking that excellence and bringing it to an area where we have capacity.”

Contact Marysville Appeal-Democrat reporter Ben van der Meer at 749-4709 or bvandermeer@appealdemocrat.com.

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