U.S. Sen. Susan Collins sent a letter Thursday to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy warning him that consolidating Maine’s two mail processing facilities would be disastrous.

But a Postal Service spokesman said there has not been any talk of closing facilities, only scrutiny of “how they can best be utilized.”

Senator Susan Collins J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

A news release from Collins’ office said the Republican senator sent the letter after the Postal Service announced it was conducting a study to see if it makes sense to consolidate the Scarborough and Hampden operations.

“This proposal jeopardizes the reliable delivery of medication for Mainers who rely on mail order pharmacies and deliveries from federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for their prescriptions, a critical concern for the oldest state in the nation,” Collins wrote. “In addition, residents will certainly see their local mail delayed.”

But Stephen Doherty, a regional spokesman for the Postal Service, disputed that there is any formal proposal.

“Regarding the inquiry from Senator Collins, the Postmaster General’s Office responds directly to congressional inquiries. That is not done through the media,” he said in an email.


Information Doherty provided says the Postal Service is only conducting a review of the Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Hampden as part of the agency’s 10-year plan to invest $40 billion into modernizing the nation’s aging processing and delivery network.

“The organization is assessing how this facility can best support service and operational goals, as well as provide platforms for launching new products and competitive services for mailing and shipping customers in the future,” a release stated.

Scott Adams, president of the Portland chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, said he’s been in close contact with the Bangor-based chapter because any changes would have a greater impact on their facility and operations.

“This is a national issue based upon DeJoy’s 10-year plan, which claims that the Delivering For America initiative will reduce transportation costs and improve service,” he said, adding that he shared Collins’ concerns that it would not do either of those things.

Adams said unions were successful in October in shutting down the Postal Service’s plans to move the Yarmouth, North Yarmouth, Cumberland Center, Scarborough, and South Portland carriers to Portland.

“They had bad data, no answers, and no plan,” Adams said. “This may apply in this case, as well.”


The Postal Service did propose merging Maine’s two facilities a little more than a decade ago. That was ultimately rejected after heavy criticism, including from Collins. At the time, the Postal Service said closing the Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center and shifting more than 100 jobs to the Scarborough location would save $7.5 million. As many as 40 workers were likely to be laid off.

The Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough is the largest of the two and employs approximately 500 workers.

In her letter to the postmaster general, Collins said the Hampden location remains crucial to mail delivery in Maine’s northern and eastern reaches. More than 130 miles are separating the Hampden and Scarborough facilities. That means mail sent between two communities in Aroostook County, for example, might have to travel two extra hours each way for processing.

Collins also pointed out that the Postal Service has struggled to maintain reliable service in Maine. A federal audit completed this year after requests were made by both Collins and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, revealed widespread delivery delays and mail tracking problems. The problems were blamed on inadequate staffing and training.

A spokesperson for Pingree said Thursday that the congresswoman would be wary of any proposal to consolidate operations in Maine.

The Postal Service has struggled financially in recent years. Although it is a quasi-government agency, it receives no taxpayer funding of any kind.

Mark Seitz, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 92, which represents carriers in Maine, said he got an email Wednesday about the Postal Service doing a survey of five plants across the country and Hampden was one of them. He said the survey didn’t specifically mention consolidation.

“Most of this doesn’t affect carriers,” he said. “But if this happens, I can’t imagine how they would process more mail (in Scarborough) without delays.”

The Scarborough facility only has so many sorting machines, Seitz explained, and adding more machines would not be feasible because the facility is full.

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