U.S. Postal Service says it will close Everett processing facility, lay off 97 workers

EVERETT — Nearly 100 people who work at an Everett mail processing facility will lose their jobs later this year, the U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday.

Also lost will be next-day delivery of first-class mail sent in Western Washington. Customers instead can expect delivery to take two or three days.

“I’m very disappointed in the announcement and the inclusion of Everett, but this isn’t over yet,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, whose district includes Everett.

Congress still has time to finish work on its plan to shore up the Postal Service’s finances, he said.

Larsen, a Democrat, visited the Everett mail processing facility in November, and that visit convinced him that closing the operation would be a blow to the region.

“I’m not going to lay down and let this happen without exploring ways to keep this open,” he said.

The Everett facility at 8120 Hardeson Road processes 1 million outgoing letters and parcels daily and serves communities from Lynnwood north to the Canadian border.

The Postal Service plans to move its mail processing operations from Everett to Seattle sometime after May 15. Bulk mail can still be dropped off at the Hardeson Road location after the closure — at least for the foreseeable future, said Ernie Swanson, Postal Service spokesman.

Everett is one of six facilities statewide the Postal Service is closing, part of a nationwide effort intended to help stave off financial disaster.

The others are in Olympia, Tacoma, Pasco, Wenatchee and Yakima. An exact date for the closure of the Everett facility hasn’t been set.

In total, 306 people in the state will lose their jobs. Many others will have to relocate if they want to continue working for the Postal Service.

Congress is considering enacting legislation that might save money, such as eliminating Saturday mail service and allowing the Postal Service to provide employee health benefits independent of federal programs.

However, even if that legislation comes to pass, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has indicated that it won’t be enough to keep the Everett facility open, Swanson said.

“The big guy says we still need to do this,” he said.

For the past few decades, the Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer support, has been focused on expanding its facilities to handle the anticipated growth in people and the letters and packages they send. With more people sending emails and texts, the amount of first-class mail is dropping.

The Postal Service also is in trouble because it is required to pre-fund retiree health benefits for its employees.

A 2006 law passed by Congress requires the Postal Service to pay 75 years worth of funds in a 10-year period, which is costing the Postal Service more than $5 billion a year.

The Postal Service now has to adjust its business model in response.

Last week, the Postmaster General released a plan to cut $20 billion by 2015. That plan is contingent on legislative changes, he said.

At the Everett facility, just under 300 people are employed, and 97 of them will lose their jobs.

“I think it’s wrong,” said Janice Herrera, of Arlington. “It’s going to be hard on small businesses, companies and even residents who need a letter mailed in a timely fashion.”

Her husband is employed at the facility and will likely now retire sooner than planned.

She said employees learned about the closure decision Wednesday night. The announcement left many angry and uncertain about what the future holds.

The Postal Service announced last year it was studying whether to consolidate operations at 252 locations nationwide, including Everett.

The Postal Service held public meetings and gave the public a chance to comment.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com

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