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Concern over Tulsa USPS center's fate reaches City Hall

A USPS mailbox is seen.

Note: This article has been updated to include the correct location of the center.

Worry over moving mail processing functions at south Tulsa’s USPS center has reached city government.

Councilor Grant Miller proposed a resolution to oppose the mail center at 21st Street near 89th East Avenue's processing functions moving to Oklahoma City. His presentation Wednesday was followed by current and former center workers speaking at the city council's evening meeting.

The resolution says the move “may adversely impact the jobs of Tulsans and delay the delivery of necessary medications, household goods, and other time-sensitive communications.”

“A comprehensive public input strategy is necessary to ensure the local impacts are thoroughly evaluated before final decisions are made regarding this facility,” the resolution reads.

The resolution is scheduled for a vote April 10.

At a March 7 meeting for workers, USPS officials said career workers’ employment situations won’t be changed. In a findings document, USPS claims just over half the current three-day first class volume will move to four- or five-day delivery.

But some are having a hard time believing these claims, or at least say the claims are missing context.

“It’s already being delayed — they’ve just already lowered the standards, in my mind,” said Ellen Dimond, who’s worked at the center for 27 years. Dimond said she noticed acceptable delivery times relax in 2021.

Tulsa's American Postal Worker's Union President Julia Weare told councilors she wants USPS officials to show them how they came to their conclusions about delivery times and layoffs.

Councilor Christian Bengel pointed out that Weare represents only one union in USPS. But he still supported the resolution.

“I can’t see how it’s efficient to take a letter in Tulsa, send it down the road to Oklahoma City, bring it back,” he said. “Literally makes no sense to me. Somebody’s going to have to explain the efficiencies.”

Councilor Phil Lakin encouraged workers to speak with Oklahoma's federal delegation first. He noted that congressional members other than Rep. Kevin Hern, who wrote a letter to the postmaster asking for greater transparency, also have a stake in this issue because they represent rural Oklahoma.

“If I were the USPS and the people making the decisions, I think I would pay more attention to the people who are impacting the future of the USPS versus us. We’re begging; they have different powers and a different perspective than we do,” Lakin said.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. agreed the move especially "poses a severe risk" to rural members of the Cherokee Nation.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.