A U.S. Postal Service truck is parked at the Post Office off Brattle Street in Portland in 2020. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer, file

The United States Postal Service announced on Tuesday that it plans to shift some mail processing operations roughly 130 miles south from Hampden to Scarborough, a move criticized by union leaders and opposed by members of Maine’s congressional delegation.

The Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Hampden will get a $12.1 million investment and be converted to a local processing center, while outgoing mail processing operations will be moved to the Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough, the Postal Service said. 

Local Processing Centers sort letters and flats to individual mail carrier routes in an area. Consolidating plant operations will allow the addition of a sorting and delivery center at the Hampden site, the USPS said. 

The sorting and delivery center will allow the Postal Service to “provide faster and more reliable mail and package delivery over a greater geographic area” with upgraded sorting equipment, faster delivery options and better conditions for employees, it said.

But U.S. Sen. Susan Collins criticized the decision, saying it will cause delays in local mail delivery. She urged the Postal Service to reverse the decision and be transparent with Mainers about the impact.

“This misguided decision, which I repeatedly urged the USPS to reject, jeopardizes the reliable delivery of mail, including critical medication, for Mainers,” she said in a statement. 


The Hampden facility is important for mail delivery across large parts of northern Maine, Collins’ office said. 

Currently, mail sent the 10 miles between Fort Kent and Wallagrass goes to Hampden, 192 miles away, and then returns the following day by truck to Wallagrass, 182 miles away, Collins’ office said.

Under the new proposal, the mail would be sent to Scarborough, 322 miles from Fort Kent and then another 312 back to Wallagrass.

A truck leaves the U.S. Postal Service’s Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough in 2020. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer, file

Scott Adams, president of the Portland chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, said the news is not the “butterflies and rainbow” message the Postal Service is implying. 

“The message sent by the Postal Service that this is ‘good news’ is disingenuous, and that’s being kind,” he said in an email. “This degradation of service is an affront to our members who serve, and have so for years, Mainers in not only our cities, but our rural communities, which will most likely be greatly impacted by these changes.”

The extent of the impacts on mail delivery in the area is unclear. The Postal Service did not respond to messages Wednesday night asking about the consolidation and its impacts. 


Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said that timely mail service is vital to ensure Mainers can confidently cast absentee ballots in elections.

“I have serious concerns that eliminating services from the Hampden facility will negatively impact our ability to keep elections accessible to busy Mainers in the northern and Down East regions of our state who depend on the ability to vote by mail,” she said. “The disregard shown by USPS leadership to the voices of Maine postal workers and local leaders who know our communities best is disrespectful to the Mainers we’re elected to serve.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, on Wednesday said that he plans to introduce legislation to freeze consolidation of mail processing facilities across the country. 

“The Postal Service’s choice to move forward with consolidation of its Hampden facility despite overwhelming opposition across the state is unacceptable to Mainers who rely on timely mail service for everything from paying bills to receiving life-saving medication,” Golden said in a statement. “The move already caused significant delivery delays across the state when trialed last year, and will exacerbate existing challenges the USPS faces in fulfilling its obligation to Maine’s rural communities. It’s time to freeze the USPS’ broken review process and keep its bureaucrats accountable to the people they serve.”

The bill would eliminate funding for the Mail Processing Facility Review process, effectively blocking the Postal Service’s plans to shift mail processing from Hampden to Scarborough, Golden’s office said. It would require that any future consolidation plans be reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent oversight panel with members appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The roughly $12 million in investments touted by the USPS include about $6 million for modernization efforts and deferred maintenance like new lighting and renovated bathrooms and break rooms. 


But Scott, the union president, said those changes should have been made anyway as part of the facility maintenance required by the collective bargaining agreements. 


The Postal Service said there will be no “career layoffs” with the consolidation.

The union negotiated a no-layoff clause into the agreement, Scott said, but there are non-career employees – postal support employees and mail handler assistants, for example – who do risk losing their jobs. 

According to Golden’s office, postal workers have expressed concerns that the consolidation would permanently relocate over a dozen jobs from Hampden to Scarborough.  

In November, the USPS said it was reviewing the Hampden facility as part of the agency’s 10-year plan to invest $40 billion into modernizing the nation’s aging processing and delivery network.


Preliminary plans to move outgoing processing operations to Scarborough and convert the Hampden site to a local processing center were announced in January. 

A public hearing in February garnered widespread opposition from Mainers, postal workers and political leaders. 

Scott said in an email Wednesday that while USPS invited the public to provide input, “the script was already written.” 

The Postal Service has struggled to maintain reliable service in Maine. A federal audit completed last year after requests were made by both Collins and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, revealed widespread delivery delays and mail tracking problems. The problems were blamed on inadequate staffing and training.

A little more than a decade ago, the Postal Service did propose merging Maine’s two facilities. That plan ultimately was 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, but would have resulted in 40 layoffs.

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