UPDATE: Postal worker plans to file complaints with attorney general's office over consolidation

Apr. 24—CHAMPAIGN — The U.S. Postal Service has announced its decision to move forward with changes to the Mattis Avenue Processing and Distribution Center, despite protests from community members, postal workers and legislators.

Barbara Bridges, a worker at the plant, is putting out a call for community members to send her a brief explanation of how the changes will affect them or their loved ones. She can be reached at and plans to compile these accounts to file complaints with the Illinois Attorney General's office.

"Take heart and stay strong," she wrote in an email to The News-Gazette and others. "Don't freak out. Get organized! We are going to defeat this consolidation and make Louis DeJoy regret the day he ever thought of messing with the Champaign P&DC!"

The agency's decision to proceed — which is expected to result in a loss of about 100 local jobs — includes transferring mail processing outgoing operations to the South Suburban Processing and Distribution Center in Bedford Park and the Chicago South Regional Processing and Distribution Center in Forest Park.

"The Champaign facility is not closing and will remain open and be modernized as a Local Processing Center," USPS officials said.

A copy of the final plan can be found at .

The agency estimates that the move will result in the loss of 100 craft positions at the Mattis Avenue post office and a gain of 80 positions at the South Suburban and Chicago South sites. There is also expected to be a loss of four management positions locally and a gain of three management positions at the Chicago-area sites.

However, they added that there will be "no career layoffs" as a result of the change, and the agency will work with unions and management associations amid the transition.

The change is also expected to result in annual savings of $2.7 million to $3.5 million.

"This go-forward plan for the Champaign IL facility will help USPS achieve the core goals of our Delivering for America plan: financial sustainability for our organization and improved service reliability for our customers," the agency said.

The announcement comes about a week after U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski introduced a bill that would prevent the USPS from making major changes to processing and distribution centers based in regions with poor delivery rates.

Critics of the agency's plan for the Mattis Avenue plant, including Budzinski, have expressed concerns about the potential impact on employees and mail delivery times, though the agency claims the change in processing will not delay local mail.

USPS officials have also said that the proposed changes will not affect local newspapers that are dropped off at local delivery units.

"Those periodicals do not go through the same sortation system as regular letters and would continue to be processed as they are today," the agency said. "Newspapers destined to other areas or not pre-sorted by ZIP code would be processed in Chicago and then directed to the appropriate LPC and local delivery unit."

Bridges said that she knows of some community members that will hold a rally from noon to 2 p.m. May 2 at the Illini Union to protest the changes. She added that she is not one of the organizers for the event.

"We are not done fighting the consolidation," Bridges said.