A mail processing facility in eastern Maine that has been under review for possible consolidation appears safe after all.

According to correspondence between the United States Postal Service and the national American Postal Workers Union, the Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Hampden will not be consolidated with Maine’s other processing facility in Scarborough.

“The Eastern Maine P&DC will remain open and will be modernized,” the Postal Service said in its Jan. 12 letter. “It is expected that this facility will be a critical node to the unified movement of mail and packages across the regional processing and transportation ecosystem.”

In November, the USPS said it was reviewing the facility as part of the agency’s 10-year plan to invest $40 billion into modernizing the nation’s aging processing and delivery network. That announcement drew criticism from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy warning him that consolidating Maine’s two mail processing facilities would be disastrous.

“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.

But the Postal Service said at the time that closure was never part of the discussion.


“The initial results of the facility review support the business case for keeping the Eastern Maine P&DC open and modernizing the facility as a Local Processing Center with simplified processes and standardized layouts,” USPS said in its letter last week. “The facility will offer expanded and streamlined package processing capabilities in the local market and new workplace amenities for USPS employees. Additionally, the business case supports transferring some mail processing operations to the Southern Maine P&DC.”

Scott Adams, president of the Portland chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, said that even though the facility may remain open, “the functions of that processing center will be greatly changed and could still lead to a reduction in force.”

“Whether that will occur through attrition or relocation hasn’t been defined,” he said. “For the Service to shift cancellation and processing to the Southern Maine P&DC, we clearly believe this will create delays, as much of that mail will reach Scarborough only to return to rural Maine towns once processed.”

The Postal Service next will solicit public comment as part of the review. A meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2 in Brewer to share the initial results and allow members of the local community to provide feedback. People can also submit comments online.

Adams encouraged customers and union members to speak out. He said although the Postal Service has pledged that its plan will improve service to Mainers, “there is no evidence that this is true.”

“The promise that the Postal Service will be able to deliver 95% ‘on-time’ sounds great, but they’ve reduced the standards such that it is shameful that they cannot meet those standards now without widening the strike zone,” Adams said.

Indeed, 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 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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