LANSING, Mich. — The delegation of U.P. legislators are speaking out against the U.S. Postal Service’s plans to modify mail service in the U.P. and discontinue the processing of outgoing mail at the facility in Kingsford.
“We are speaking with one voice to oppose this terrible plan to reduce postal services to the people of the U.P.,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “There is no partisan divide here. The U.S. Postal Service is pushing this change through manipulation and carefully worded press releases that do not tell the whole story about what they are trying to do.”
The Postal Service has released details of the new investments they are making at the processing facility, but lawmakers say their releases do not make it clear if this will only be for incoming mail to the U.P. or if all mail sent from U.P. addresses will be processed in Wisconsin, even if it is coming back to the U.P.
“One of the few government services specifically prescribed in the Constitution is the right to postal service,” said Sen. John Damoose, R-Harbor Springs. “No matter how far the distance or remote the region, the Postal Service is duty bound to serve our residents. Curtailing services at the critical Kingsford processing and distribution center could further isolate our residents, which is unacceptable, unfair, and potentially dangerous.”
The new program, called the “Optimized Collections Plan,” which is part of the new law, “Delivering for America Plan,” ostensibly seeks to make the Postal Service profitable and more efficient. Releases from the government have claimed a study of the need and functionality of the Kingsford facility will occur, but changes to delivery and pickup across the U.P. have already occurred. Residents are now paying the same rates for two to four days delivery in the U.P., which was next-day delivery at the beginning of January. Issues regarding the timely delivery of medicines, business and industry parts, and very critically, legally required water samples are just a few of the concerns being brought to legislators.
“The U.P. depends on reliable mail service just like any urban area would,” said Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Hancock. “It sure feels like, on a good day, the U.P. is merely forgotten. On days like today, we get targeted. If I had to choose, ignoring us would be preferable. It isn’t broke, please leave it alone. The federal government promises that only five non-management employees will be laid off, however, others may be required to transfer. Losing more of our jobs and citizens is not what the Upper Peninsula and the state of Michigan need right now.”
Rep. Jenn Hill said that her main concern is maintaining efficiency.
“I’m deeply concerned that the transfer of these essential functions to another state will diminish the speed and efficiency of mail in our communities,” said Hill, D-Marquette. “Our local postal workers are dedicated to ensuring U.P. residents receive their packages on time, without interruptions. I’m strongly opposed to any changes that will compromise the reliable service our residents have come to expect.”
The U.P. legislators introduced resolutions in both chambers of the state Legislature condemning this change and asked the federal government to reverse this decision. McBroom sponsored Senate Resolution 92 and Damoose sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 14, both of which passed the Senate Wednesday morning. House Concurrent Resolution 12, sponsored by Hill, was adopted by the Michigan House of Representatives. House Resolution 184, sponsored by Markkanen, did not receive a vote on Wednesday.
Additionally, Congressman Jack Bergman has announced his opposition to the plans released by the postal service. There is a public meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. at the armory in Kingsford this Thursday, Feb. 8 to hear the concerns of the public.
“The U.P. has long suffered from the continuous depletion of services, from both the state and federal government,” said Rep. Dave Prestin, R-Cedar River. “This processing facility is the only one in the U.P., and it’s central to the timely processing and delivery of our mail. Taking even more essential services away should be completely off the table. This is a critical piece of infrastructure that we can’t afford to lose.”
Rep. Neil Friske agreed, adding that he hopes this decision is reversed.
“I believe the federal government is making a huge mistake by taking away good paying jobs from an area that has relied on those jobs being there for years,” said Friske, R-Charlevoix. “I sincerely hope they scrap their plans to eliminate outgoing mail at this processing center. I stand shoulder to shoulder with the other U.P. Legislators on this issue.”
Copies of the resolution were sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the president of the United States, the president of the U.S. Senate, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, members of the Michigan congressional delegation, and the U.S. postmaster general.
Editor’s Note: Remarks from Sen. Ed McBroom prior to Senate passage of Senate Resolution 92, sponsored by McBroom and Senate Concurrent Resolution 14, sponsored by Damoose can be viewed by clicking here or at either senator’s website under the “Video” tab.