Rep. Nolan hosts forum on closure of Duluth's mail distribution center

By KBJR News 1

July 18, 2014 Updated Jul 18, 2014 at 5:44 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- Congressmen Rick Nolan heard from the public on Friday about the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plan to close Duluth's mail distribution center.

The postal service is proposing to close 82 distribution centers nation wide including the one in Duluth.

"I go over to the post office on 27th Avenue. I drive over from my house by Barker's Island, I drive over to drop off [packages] there. I rely on their expertise," said Mary Smith-Johnson.

The USPS says over the last three years they have lost $26 billion due to funding retiree health benefits.

Rep. Nolan said that he and the Postmaster General discussed possible legislative solutions to the requirement that the Postal Service put away $5.5 billion every year to pre-fund 75 years of those benefits.

Nolan adds that losing the Duluth distribution center would cost 70 jobs and put the whole Northland at a disadvantage.

"The postal service is supposed to take a look at the implications for rural areas," said Rep. Nolan.

If Duluth's processing center closed, it would not only affect Northern Minnesota, but also Northern Wisconsin.

"We also serve Wisconsin. It goes out to Spooner, Superior, and there are four or five smaller cities as well," said Todd Fawcett, President of the American Postal Workers Union.

If the distribution center were to close, mail would have to go to the Twin Cities to be sorted and then shipped back to the Northland, which many say doesn't make sense.

"Why is that person going to do that when they can walk across the street and just give [a letter] to the people? Or worse you are on the iron range and it will take even longer," said Scott Dulas, President of the Letter Carriers Association.

Distribution centers across the nation are scheduled to close in early 2015.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.
kanderson@kbjr.com