John Wiley Price, West Turn Up For Tense Forum on Fate of Dallas's Main Post Office

Categories: Biz, Politics

JWPAtPostOfficeMeeting1.jpg
Photos by Anna Merlan
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price attended, but did not speak at, last night's town hall. He sorta mailed it in.
Technically, the U.S. Postal Service hasn't yet made a decision about whether it will close the processing center at the main post office near Sylvan and IH-30, just one of several local sites it's considering shuttering as it looks to move operations to the Coppell and Fort Worth plants instead. But at a tense public forum last night, district manager Tim Vierling managed to convey that it's almost certain that the center and the more than 500 jobs that go with it are pretty close to history.

And though a USPS spokesperson recently told The Dallas Morning News that customers would still be able to buy stamps, mail letters and keep P.O. boxes at that location, Vierling suggested last night that's not a sure thing either. It may be, he said, that they'll have to try and keep those services "nearby." But a crowd that included postal workers, union reps, state Sen. Royce West and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price let him know they won't let the facility go without a fight.

Vierling told the audience at Mountain View College that the decline in first-class mail, combined with the economy (it sucks) and email (it exists), made it necessary to have fewer processing facilities to sort mail. "We know this is an aggressive plan," he said, adding that of the 487 mail processing sites currently open in the U.S., 252 are being studied for "potential consolidation." The proposal to close the Dallas plant, he said, has "potential savings of $39 million annually."

With that "consolidation," though would also come what Vierling called a "service standard change." What does that mean? Well, see, right now the post office is required to deliver first-class mail the next day. They'd like to have that standard changed so that they can deliver it during a two- to three-day window. "The operational benefits would be tremendous," Vierling said. "Even though the change would go unnoticed by the average consumer."

The audience wasn't really interested in "operational benefits," though. They were interested in their jobs -- mainly, where the hell they're going to go.

EradicateIneptness.JPG
A motto for our times
Vierling assured them that no one would be laid off -- since, legally, per the postal service's agreement with the union, they can't be. But "employees may have to change jobs, hours or locations," he said. He added that "every attempt will be made to place our employees in jobs in the commuting area."

But Jennifer Fulbright, secretary-treasurer of the American Postal Workers Union local, blasted Vierling and the postal service for trying (again) to close the Dallas plant.

"Once again you're targeting the inner city," she said. "The poor, the minorities and the handicapped, these are the people who would be most greatly affected."

But Fulbright also pointed out that the Dallas processing center has the most senior employees. "It's almost as if you're trying to force them into retirement," she said. (The union also argues that a huge amount of the postal service's current financial woes are the result of a 2006 mandate to pre-fund retirement health benefits 75 years in advance.)

Vierling disagreed with her points, saying that "operationally it made sense to move to Fort Worth." The facility is larger there, he said. Plus, the land that the Dallas facility sits on is more valuable, meaning they'd could sell it for more, while keeping Fort Worth open, which is, he said, "in an industrial area."

"And screw the customer, right?" Fulbright retorted.

West was also unhappy. "Tell the community," he said to Vierling. "Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the country. Are there any other major cities on the verge of losing their postmark?"

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Vierling gives his presentation to a less than receptive crowd.
"Yes, there are, Vierling replied. "We're studying numerous facilities." He added later that Houston is "under review."

But Vierling denied, in response to a direct question from West, that the postal service tried to close the Dallas plant back in 2009. "Based on the current service standards, we couldn't do that," he said.

"There are no emails that go back to say, 2007, 2008 that say that's the ultimate goal?" West asked.

"Under our operational structure, it's highly unlikely that could have occurred," Vierling responded.

A little later, West asked if "anything changed" as a result of the outraged town hall meetings in 2009 against the potential plant closure. No, Vierling replied. "The overall process moved forward." (The process he'd just said wasn't, you know, happening at the time.)

"What would lead us to believe that our participation in this meeting tonight would have any impact?" West asked.

Vierling didn't have a response to that, which led to some giggling from the audience. "You're destroying a postal relationship with the ninth-largest city in the country," West told him to a round of applause.

A few moments later, Leslie Thomas, a city council member from Duncanville, told Vierling that the decision to close the plant was "not a business decision, but a moral and ethical decision."

"You can close the Coppell plant and bring it back to Dallas," she said. "You can anchor this side of Dallas and give the people on this side of town an opportunity to succeed."

"I hear your impassioned speech about the relative unfairness of this," Vierling replied. "But the reality is this is a $65-billion business that's spending $70 billion a year. This organization will cease to exist if we do not get control of the situation. I have an ethical responsibility to make sure the organization is on more sound financial footing than when I took it over."

The public has until December 22 to submit public comment on the proposal. It can be addressed to Manager, Consumer, and Industry Contact, Dallas District, 951 W. Bethel Road, Coppel, TX 75099-9631.

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46 comments
WALLHOPPER1
WALLHOPPER1

CLOSE ALL OF THE MAJOR PROCESSING PLANTS IN TEXAS !!!! don't YOU WANT TO SECEDE FROM THE U.S. ANYWAY?.. Fundyour own post office TEXAS!!! RICK PERRY PROBABLY THINKS ITS A PONZI SCHEME ANYWAY....OOOOPPSSS!!!!!

mikem
mikem

Tim V. ...good job.  You stood up, said the hard objective truth.  The Dallas plant is much older  than Coppell or the Fort Worth plant.  The decision is not about politics, or jobs in a particular area.  The decision must be based on unbiased data.  Plants are going to close, volume and revenue are down, and continue to drop. It's never easy to tell people that their jobs are being abolished,  but that's the reality of where the USPS is today.  I'm glad that Tim V. is among the leaders of the organization making these hard decisions.  mike m.

Rockheads
Rockheads

I guess John Wiley had to be mute due to his pending FBI investigation!!!  Talking about someone with whom STEALS millions from the underpriviledged that he serves in Dallas County.  Oh, I mean whith whom serve him, apparently   LOL!!!

Mike
Mike

Who cares where the mail gets processed? A big reason for the Coppell location is that much of the mail arrives via DFW. USPS is a business and we have to give them a free hand to control over costs. Being another 40 minutes up the road, particularly in that 90 per cent of mail travels to and from after working hours and before working hours.

The reason Congress wants the retirement payments because it does not trust the USPS to handle its finances. The taxpayer is not going to stand for an airline type pension crash nd burn with some federal agency picking up the tab. The USPS employed almost a million people not that long ago and now wants to get down to 500,000. Those 400k people were extra and we always knew they were extra. We are not going to stuck with the tab to pay their pensions when they roll off into decades of retirement.

Brad
Brad

JWP didn't make a statement?  I guess he figured that his "Slaves had jobs!" rhetoric wasn't going to go over very well.

JWPPWJ
JWPPWJ

My brother JWP is going to be good in LockDown!!! He's gonna get all the throw-downs he can take, and then some. Cuz you my brothers in LockDown, love them some corn-rows!!! 

Anon
Anon

I can never understand why there is so much hatred for the Postal Service, which provides valuable services to the ENTIRE US POPULATION for what is arguably a pretty decent price.

No other private business is forced to have a brick and mortar location in nearly every town in America. Few other private businesses are forced to provide a service at a loss (they tried to eliminate Saturday mail service years ago and the gov't stopped them from doing so) for extended periods of time. UPS and FedEx can gripe all they want about the USPS and their "monopoly" but those two other players do not provide the same service. People use the USPS less and less each year, but it's sort of like Netflix. Just because people aren't using the DVD-by-mail service doesn't mean that they will be happy to live without the option. In the meantime, there are certain structural reasons that the USPS needs to continue to exist. You probably learned that if you've ever tried to prove that someone actually received correspondence in court or in a dispute. And while I'm sure we all have our opinions about the value of political mailings, the ability to reach all potential constituents is a reliable fashion is fairly imperative in our country. People who live in cities and think that the internet replaces that need to get out and see how a very large percentage of the country lives. The new communication infrastructure is years from replacing the old.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

"Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the country. Are there any other major cities on the verge of losing their postmark?"

Does anyone care, in the 21st century, about a postmark?  Do people under the age of 30 know what a postmark is?  Do people under 30 receive first class mail?  Do people under 30 ever purchase postage stamps?  That's why the post office is having financial troubles.  The demand for their products & services is declining rapidly.  Yes, it sucks that so many people will eventually lose their jobs.  But the jobs are going to go. The argument is from where.  The decisions will be made by a cold, calculating financial model.  And if the Dallas real estate is valuable and FW is a bigger facility it sounds like a pretty easy decision to make.  Half the processing centers will be closing.  Does it really matter, in the big picture, which one of Coppell, Dallas or FW closes unless you are an elected politician worrying about people voting against you?

Fletch
Fletch

I can certainly understand some of the frustration on the part of residents and postal workers, but this is inevitable.  JWP and company can talk all they want, but I don't think the USPS gives a rat's ass what they have to say.

With mail volumes down so much in the last 10-15 years, there's just no need for same infrastructure that was needed before.  Would it be rational to expect any other company that had their business cut in half with even worse days ahead of it to continue operating with much of its capacity intact?  I don't think it would be.  Locations would be closed and people would lose their jobs.  That would be that.

In this case, the postal workers stay employed, so that's a plus.  Yes, they'll probably have to drive further and they may be reassigned, but at least they won't be filing for unemployment.  That's something to be thankful for, especially for the multitudes of postal employees I've seen make a living treating customers like shit with their apathetic and contemptuous attitudes.  Those people should've lost their jobs years ago, but they continue to "serve" the ever-dwindling customer base with an air of bitterness and entitlement.  They're dead weight helping to drag the USPS towards insolvency.

These are desperate times for the USPS and all the bluster, bitching and moaning that JWP and West can muster won't save the Dallas main post office.  It'll be the end of an era and an incovenience to many, but it's just a sign of the times and the latest struggle for an entity that cannot seem to claw its way out of the hole it's been digging for years .

Cynical Citizen
Cynical Citizen

Just some thoughts on closing the Main Post Office

The US Postal Service as we know it is unustainable.Losing $5 Billion per year.  Declining 1st Class postage revenue.  Competition from UPS, FEDEX, On-Line Banking,   Internet mail  and paperless ordering and billing.

The current Postal Service network has been set up to handle about twice the volume of mail it is handling now and that volume has been decliningnot growing.

The postal service pays wages and benefits to 700,000 or so workers.It faces rising vehicle and fuel costs.It has very large retirement and healthcare funding liabilities (although Ihave read that funding for these programs is up to date.) It must be managed to function in today's reality or else get substancial assistanceby bailout type programs of magically printed money.  I'm not against bailouts butI am against wasting billions on doomed models.

They must cut costs and increase revenue.

Raising prices will affect everyone doing business with the Post Office. Magazine publishers, Direct Mail Advertisers, Bulk Mail services, credit cardcompanies and on and on.  This could cause them to lose more mail volume.Their biggest opportunities appear to be cutting costs.

While the post office provides steady employment and good benefits it's purpose isn't to create jobs but to collect and deliver mail.  

I suspect they will be decreasing their workforce, hopefully by attrition, and streamlining operations to better fit the realities of their market.

The more politicians interfere with their operational plans the less efficient theywill be and their problems won't get solved.

Personally I think closing this main facility on I30 is bad for everyone except the post office. I want a 24/7 facility centrally located and easy to get to.  I want people to keep their jobs and not have to move to Coppell or commute longer distances.But if it's a burden rather than an asset it will have to go eventually.

I don't know if we will all benefit by a strong, functional postal service in the long term but we will benefit by not having the feds send them billions in subsidies each year.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Maybe JWP and West wouldn't have to worry about the potential lost jobs to their constituency of the closures if they hadn't run the Inland Port project into bankruptcy with their requests for "equity".

The post office isn't floated on tax payer money, aside from the unions, Vierling shouldn't have to answer to anyone about the offices they close. If I have to wait another day or two for yet another Crate & Barrel catalog or 20% coupon to Bed, Bath & Beyond so be it.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

JWP looks none too happy with you, Anna.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

While im not a fan of Royce "da 5'9" West or JWP, I have to agree with them, this would be a serious blow to the local economy. I know the USPS is running itsself in the ground due to years and years of mismanagment and ill decisions, but you dont punish good workers or the community at large because of your failures.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

"It can be addressed to Manager, Consumer, and Industry Contact, Dallas District, 951 W. Bethel Road, Coppel, TX 75099-9631."What, it can't be emailed? HA!

Heywood U buzzoff
Heywood U buzzoff

"You can close the Coppell plant and bring it back to Dallas," she said. "You can anchor this side of Dallas and give the people on this side of town an opportunity to succeed."

So DISD can dump students into Coppell ISD and that is fair but Dallas needs Coppell's mail center closed as there is no other way for folks in the Dallas plant to succeed.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

That's racist!

I think I'll mail a strongly worded letter to... to...!

Well, to someone!

Oh, wait... Nevermind.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

A decent price? Its cheap as shit, why do you think it cost you $14-$20 to overnight fedex something? Bc its expensive to do, but the usps says first class mail will be delivered in 1day and its .49 cents? The pricing model is wrong

cp
cp

We're not talking about shutting down the USPS here, we're talking about consolidating the bulk mail centers. Your arguments here are god, but they're not valid to this particular conversation. 

Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

The problem with this evaluation is that it ignores the fact that USPS is not allowed to make fundamental changes to their model without permission from politicians who want to keep USPS' model outdated on purpose.

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

Pretty sure he's just questioning the incredible stupidity of my hairdo. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

how nice that you think that about postal workers!  but the post office has the same problem as American Airlines, very high costs, large pension requirements, and not being able to charge enough to cover the cost of business.  and no one was on the airline workers side when AA filed bk, people were laughing and hoping they shut down.  Talk about a blow to the economy, thatd be 22k workers on the street. 

Im not one to say who should make what, but my local mail lady who sits behind the counter and accepts payments for mail and stamps and such, drives her a nice little 2011 red z06 corvette, paid for by herself every month, and how, bc she has worked for the post office so long her payscale to be a clerk is redic.  Thats not her fault but do you see a problem with a mail clerk pulling 80k a year?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

You realize that we all foot the bill for the USPS, right?

They're not private. And I don't want a major part of the federal government sitting by and being cool with operating at a $5 billion a year loss because south Dallas is pissed.

The inland port could've made up for the loss of a postal facility easily...

jack
jack

Hey ScottsMerkin...        Do you get ANYTHING correct???             It's $.44!!!                        (" The pricing model is wrong"?  ....How ironic!)

 I'M NOT GOD!
I'M NOT GOD!

Hey CP...         "your arguments here are GOD"....               .....and just why would GOD"S arguments  "NOT" be valid???

Anon
Anon

True, but there are posts complaining about the postal service losing money every time this issue comes up. And generally, there are calls for its closure that are a thinly veiled criticism of public vs private enterprise. And I finally decided to add my 2 cents.

As long as I've got decent access to a retail location, I don't particularly care where the mail is processed. And the fight more or less confirms what people don't like about government getting involved in business.

camarillobrillo
camarillobrillo

Maybe, he was just thinking about how dope you'd look with some corn rows in your hair!

cp
cp

That was irony, right?

cp
cp

How do you know how much she makes and what she chooses to spend her money on? For all you know she lives in a two-bedroom house in South Dallas that's paid for and decided that it's time to treat herself to a nice car. For all you know she saved her money. For all you know, she has a wealthy husband. For all you know, her parents died and she got an inheritance. How did you calculate her salary? 

Jfw73
Jfw73

Hey Scruffygeist...           Not "RIGHT"....you're "wrong".      NONE of your tax money goes towards the post office.       Only the money that YOU spend on stamps and postage goes towards its operation.

Randy S
Randy S

As mentioned in the article, the fake emergency for the Post Office was forcing it to pre-pay for retirement, something no other government or private corporation is required to do. If not for that, they would be turning a profit.

grannybunny
grannybunny

Actually, it's going up to 45 cents.

camarillobrillo
camarillobrillo

It's never too late for your hair to go back to school. Heck, even if it opened up a book every once in a while(library cards are free, right?). Education is a life long process and I believe that your follicles have as good of a chance at succeeding as anyone else's! 

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

Oh. No, actually. I legitimately have really stupid hair. Ask anyone. 

trudat
trudat

Unionized jobs don't "pay too much".  However, management and many CEO jobs are simply unexcusable when it comes to being "too much".

trudat
trudat

Yes.  And if you're trying to say that a job like that is not important enough to merit that kind of pay - regardless of accumulated seniority, experience and expertise, you're just wrong.

Jack
Jack

Hey ScottsMerkin.... Yes it is good business sense...        Here's why....          One...you have to take and pass a test to qualify for the job.          Two...while the post office is "unionized"....there are a number of different unions within the postal service AND it is an "open shop" so that NO ONE has to belong.           Three...Due to unions (and I remind people.. there IS a NO-STRIKE clause in the post office).. and management ....an agreement from BOTH SIDES is made in a contract.            Four...Is it that many unionized jobs pay too much ..  (police ,firefighters ,postal employees ) ...and many other occupations pay too little (school bus driver, convenience store clerk ,shoe store clerk etc.) ?          Five...Base pay for a postal clerk ...with about 15 years senority  (top step)      is about $52 Thousand  a year. Certainly not outrageous! 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Cp, go look up usps salaries online. Now to deal with the rest of your dumbass smarmy post...bc i personally know her, thats how. And she lives in arlington, right around the corner from the post office she works at. Would you like her name and location of work to check my facts. Her husband left her 18 years ago, no money nuthing, except her house, her old car and her job. Her parents were poor, survived the great depression and left her with they had, and it wasnt money! She did it the right way, she worked she saved and she can afford the monthly payment, its awesome, butu didnt answer my question, is it good business for a sr mail clerk to be pulling that kind of dough?

Slogger11
Slogger11

And that, obviously, ain't enough.

mail man ft worth
mail man ft worth

Its Pre Funding Future Retiary Health Benefits, not retirement!!! The USPS has over funded the FERRS Retirement system by roughly 14 Billon and the CSRS Retirement by between 50 and 75 Billon. No Company in America private public or goverment half to Pre Fund for people not even born yet. The Goverment is useing the USPS as a cash cow. This is all facts not propaganda...

Mail Man Ft Worth
Mail Man Ft Worth

Its Pre Funding Future Retiary Health Benefits, not retirement!!! The USPS has over funded the FERRS Retirement system by roughly 14 Billon and the CSRS Retirement by between 50 and 75 Billon. No Company in America private public or goverment half to Pre Fund for people not even born yet. The Goverment is useing the USPS as a cash cow. This is all facts not propaganda...

Jfw73
Jfw73

Hey Scruffygeist....          ONCE AGAIN....you're WRONG!           Taxpayers and postal budget = mutually exclusive. (see above posting by me)       As for the employees.... many other Postal employees around the country facing similar situations have now been forced to (in a number of cases)...      A.   Commute dozens to hundreds of miles to a new work-site.       B.  Re-locate the family to a new locale        or C. Resign  from their job              (nothing like commuting 2 or 3 hours EACH way to work to ruin a career!)

Mike
Mike

Why is the USPS selling that line? Everybody pre-pays. The ones that do not create unfunded liabilities. They want to go on some kind of pay as you go system except their future decreasing revenues will not cover the burden of large number of retires that reflect a significantly larger operation. We already saw this one at GM and Chrysler and it did not end well.

Guest
Guest

The vast majority of business "pre-pay for retirement" benefits:  That is what a 401K account is (e.g. a 401K match is paid when it is earned, not on retirement).  The businesses that defer retirement expenses until they become due are breaking under the weight of their retirement programs or have already gone into bankruptcy. 

Facebook User
Facebook User

Randy, I researched this and it is not the case. The Post Office is required, under their contract with the union, to fund their employee retirement program. The Federal government agreed to 'guarantee' the retirement program thus allowing the Post Office to continue to operate despite their $5B shortfall this year. It will be worse next year and the next. The Post Office is making promises to their union members they can't afford to pay - i.e. the problem is not getting better, it is getting much worse.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

And they're not going to weasel out of that. Their business model is very flawed and not going to improve, though. Every single taxpayer in the US is affected by the USPS budget, not just postal workers that won't even lose their jobs if this facility is closed.

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