The United States Postal Service announced Thursday that it will soon begin consolidating dozens of mail processing facilities across the country. Part of Rockford's operations will be transferred to the Carol Stream distribution center. The other half will be absorbed by the facility in Palatine.
The consolidation will begin this summer and is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Once the transfer is completed, the mail processing operation in Rockford will shut down. The facility is also home to a large post office, which will remain open. Agency spokesman Sean Hargadon says they plan to use a policy aimed at keeping overnight delivery in certain markets:
" In metropolitan areas, they're gonna try to keep that one-day service. Rockford would be a part of that."
As for jobs, Hargadon says 120 local positions will be affected. He says their contract with the union stipulates that they try to place these workers in other areas of the system. Ideally, he says they want to keep the employees as close to the area as much as possible.
Norm Walzer is with the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University. He says no matter how many jobs end up being lost, it certainly will be felt.
"They're good solid jobs. They have benefits and various things. You hate to lose these kinds of jobs in any economy."
Economically speaking, Walzer says there is a silver lining for the Rockford-area. He says job additions at the Belvidere Chrysler plant should help soften the blow to the region's economy.
Congressman Don Manzullo, who has led efforts to prevent the Rockford facility from closing, issued this statement:
“We are saddened that the U.S. Postal Service has decided to end mail processing operations at one of our nation’s most efficient sorting centers in Rockford and move the work to the Chicago suburbs. We understand that the USPS is facing severe money shortages and must make difficult cuts, but we are frustrated that the USPS still has not shared with us the data that confirms closing Rockford will save money. We continue to seek that data so we can share it with the people of northern Illinois who will be affected by this decision.
“When Postmaster General Pat Donahoe toured the Rockford processing center with me last month, he said all employees who wanted to keep working for the USPS would be offered jobs in the area – albeit in different capacities -- if the decision was made to end operations in Rockford. He also said he was confident that consolidating Rockford’s operations into Carol Stream and Palatine would allow the USPS to continue overnight delivery service to the region. We will hold the Postmaster General to his statements and monitor the situation closely as the consolidation ensues.”
Officials estimate the consolidation involving Rockford will save the Postal Service an estimated $10.5 million a year.