On Tuesday, July 26, The United States Postal Service announced it is planning to close 17 post offices in the Bronx. That’s half of all the shops that are set to close in the entire city, and Bronxites are wondering “why us?”
The day after the news hit, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. led a protest in front of the Bronx General Post Office at 558 Grand Concourse, which would lose its status as a processing facility as part of the proposal.
Diaz, like other opponents of the post office closures, said the plan would hurt the borough’s economy, make the mail less efficient for Bronxites, and increase pollution.
“Once again, what we see is that they feel they’re going to make decisions on the backs of the Bronx and we’re going to stay quiet. We’re not going to stay quiet,” Diaz told the crowd of hundreds.
Members of the New York Area Postal Union, the American Postal Workers Union and AFL-CIO took part in the protests. While no jobs would be lost because of the proposed closures, Diaz and others argue that by sending the over 300 postal employees who work at the GPO alone to work elsewhere in the city, local merchants such as restaurants and bars will suffer as well.
Less than 100 of the Bronx GPO’s employees live in the borough. Without the GPO, intra-Bronx mail would have to be sorted in Manhattan, thus delayed the process, and more trucks would have to take it back and forth, potentially increasing pollution.
The list includes offices in every corner of the borough, from Co-op City, to Riverdale, down to Hunts Point. Chuck Zlatkin, legislative and political director for the New York Area Postal Workers Union, argued the proposed cuts would be have an immediate negative impact on the borough.
“The reality is, eliminating mail processing in the Bronx will delay mail delivery for the entire borough,” Zlatkin said. “That will affect a lot of people including small businesses, people who get medications and checks through the mail. And it’s not just people in the south Bronx, its Parkchester, Pelham Bay, Riverdale.”
As anyone who has sent an e-mail in their life can attest, the post office’s role has changed a lot over the past decade. That, and financial constraints are why the USPS is making changes. Over 3,600 offices across the country are facing the same fate as the 17 in the Bronx.
“More than 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a statement. “Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.”
USPS representatives also said the list of proposed closures “represents an initial rollout of offices across the nation to study… this announcement should not suggest that every study will result in a closure.”
No final decisions on closures will be made until late fall.