DULUTH - Just as lawmakers were preparing to hear about jobs from President Obama during his State of the Union address, Duluth got word of a potential blow in that department. The U.S. Postal Service told FOX 21 late Tuesday that Duluth's main processing center is expected to shut down within the next year.
Postal officials say this means dozens of local postal workers would need to find jobs – and as soon as June or July – or as last as one year from now.
The American Postal Workers Union and its members in Duluth were told this once before, but legislators helped keep it open this past May for the time being.
Fast forward to now, and Postal Union pres. Todd Fawcett says increasing financial losses and the inability of congress to act on postal reform are the problems for this second threat of closure in Duluth.
"There's going to be an impact of at least 70-some employees both in the cleric craft and maintenance craft, and mail handler positions. Those people will have to look elsewhere for job employment, or they may have to move if they want to retain employment with the postal service," Fawcett said.
In response to the potential closure, Sen. Al Franken quickly sent out the following statement:
"I can only imagine what a hard day it has been for our postal employees in Duluth," said Sen. Franken. "Last year I fought and won a very hard battle in the Senate to keep Duluth's processing center open—not just to protect quality jobs, but to protect the quality of our mail service. Had the House of Representatives taken up the bipartisan bill the Senate passed last year, this could have all been avoided. While I am saddened by the news that our processing center may be closed, I have not given up the fight to protect it. I'm hoping that we can take up a Postal Reform bill here in the Senate as soon as possible, and that this go-around, the House will pass the bill."
In addition to lost jobs, mail would have to be re-routed from Duluth to the Twin Cities and then back to Duluth, which could mean longer delivery times.
Processing centers in St. Cloud and Eau Claire are also on the chopping block.