U.S. Rep. Ron Barber has strongly protested the U.S. Postal Service's decision to end the processing of mail in Tucson, saying it will have "a disproportionate impact on the people who live and operate businesses in Tucson and Southern Arizona."
Friday was the last day that the Postal Service processed outgoing mail at the Morris K. Udall Post Office at 1501 S. Cherrybell Stravenue. This marked the first of many services to be eliminated from the center.
The post office at that location will remain open, but all mail originating in Tucson and Southern Arizona now is being trucked to Phoenix to be processed. Mail for Southern Arizona addresses then will be trucked back to Tucson for delivery. That likely will add a day to delivery times within Southern Arizona.
In a letter sent Friday to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, Barber wrote: "As I have warned before, with the loss of outgoing mail processing, my constituents will face longer wait times for mail delivery even within their own communities. These delays in service are not only an issue of convenience, they will greatly cost businesses who rely on the mail to distribute their products and process payments."
Barber also was critical of the decision to halt mail processing with inadequate notice to consumers, businesses and postal employees.
Barber noted that closing the processing center means that there will be no more postmarks from Tucson or other Southern Arizona communities unless people go to a post office and wait while an item is hand-canceled.
"The postmark serves as an important memento for tourists who are attracted to our historic towns like Douglas, Bisbee and Tombstone," Barber wrote.
Barber has been a consistent critic of plans to close the busy mail center, which would mean the loss of nearly 300 jobs. Barber first opposed the closure when he was district director for then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He has continued the fight to keep the center open since he was elected to the House in June 2012.
A copy of Barber's letter to the postmaster general is below.
February 22, 2013
The Honorable Patrick R. Donahoe
United States Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260-0010
Dear Postmaster General Donahoe,
I am writing to express my deep disappointment and concern that beginning on February 25, the processing and distribution center in Tucson, AZ will end processing of outgoing mail.
While I understand the budget constraints facing the Postal Service, the steps being taken to eliminate functions and shut down facilities are having a disproportionate impact on the people who live and operate businesses in Tucson and Southern Arizona who have long depended on the Tucson facility.
As I have warned before, with the loss of outgoing mail processing, my constituents will face longer wait times for mail delivery even within their own communities. These delays in service are not only an issue of convenience, they will greatly cost businesses who rely on the mail to distribute their products and process payments. For customers, which includes seniors and patients waiting for mail order medications, these delays could be life-threatening. Additionally, these new burdens could lead business and industry, which often require fast and certain postage and package service, to reconsider Southern Arizona as an attractive location, hurting our still recovering economy.
Without mail processing, Southern Arizonans also will lose the postmark, an intangible but significant part of our identity. The postmark serves as an important memento for tourists who are attracted to our historic towns like Douglas, Bisbee and Tombstone. Mail traveling from one neighbor to another will now be shipped over 200 miles away for processing. This is simply unreasonable.
I have expressed my complete opposition to the closure of the Tucson facility. These changes to processing services represent just the beginning of the devastating impact that a facility closure will have on my constituents. Eliminating facility functions will lead to the loss of jobs, not only within the postal service but additional jobs in related business and throughout our communities.
Finally, I am troubled by the manner in which these facility changes have been implemented without adequate communication to consumers and businesses who rely on these services and USPS employees who deserve a transparent process. I urge you to maintain outgoing mail processing at the Tucson mail center and to keep the facility open and fully functioning
Member of Congress