Postal workers get official word that Manasota facility to consolidate with Fort Myers center

rdymond@bradenton.comJanuary 15, 2013 

The U.S. Postal Service's Manasota Processing and Distribution Center on Tallevast Road in Manatee County is being closed. Operations will be consolidated at another facility in Fort Myers. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

PVIDELA@BRADENTON.COM Buy Photo

MANATEE -- The 230 to 240 employees at the U.S. Postal Service's Manasota Processing and Distribution Center got the official word Monday that their work place will be consolidated with a Fort Myers' office.

The change will take place sometime between now and February 2014, said Glenn Hayes, president of the Manasota local chapter of the American Postal Workers Union.

But what will happen to the Manasota building on Tallevast Road?

Hayes says that about "one thirty-second" of the building will be used for bulk business mailing, but isn't sure what will happen to the rest of the building.

Some employees are holding out hope that the center will be totally "re-purposed" after it closes as a distribution center and could serve another function that would require more jobs.

A call to Enola Rice, postal service spokeswoman, to see what the postal service has in mind for the entire facility was not immediately returned.

Kim Sauceda of Sarasota, who has 7 1/2 years as a postal service custodian at the Manasota plant, is not giving up hope that she can still work there after the changes.

"I think the building is designed to serve the public," Sauceda said. "Maybe they could bring in some stations nearby to use our building."

Although the Postal Service has said it will work with employees like Sauceda to find them other jobs within a 50-mile area, she is not keen on a commute and she definitely doesn't want to leave Manatee-Sarasota.

"My husband is co-owner of a business in Sarasota and I was born and raised here and my kids are here," Sauceda said. "I can't get up and move."

Sauceda is holding out hope that the plant will continue to operate.

While not great news for a letter processor, it would be great news for a custodian.

"If they close it down, I hope they will re-purpose it," Sauceda said. "If the building is still open they still need people to clean it. That is my next hope, that if it does close it reopens."

Hayes said Monday that although most of the displaced workers from Manasota will have jobs somewhere in the postal service, there were strong emotions Monday.

"My members are very upset," Hayes said. "There's lots of anxiety. We felt Manasota was a good plant. We have been one of the top performing plants. People felt we were in a good position to survive the cut. People don't know what to do."

The Postal Service says it will save $8 million by consolidating Manasota with Fort Myers. But Hayes and Sauceda both have questions about the process.

They say first class mail will be collected until about 5 p.m. in Sarasota and Manatee and will be trucked 50 miles to the Tampa Processing and Distribution Center for the initial raw processing, which includes applying canceling post marks and checking for postage accuracy.

Then, that mail will be trucked 129 miles to Fort Myers where it will be sorted for carriers.

Then, it has to be driven 80 miles back north to Sarasota-Manatee for delivery.

"It feels like it is going all around the world to get back to the same point," Hayes said.

"I don't see how it won't delay the first class mail," Sauceda said. "It seems delays will be unavoidable. The Post Office is trying to go green but that doesn't seem green to me. That's a lot of fuel consumption."

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