Reporter: David Tate
Roanoke, VA. - Good news for the hundreds of workers at postal facilities in Lynchburg and Roanoke: It appears both have survived the first round of closings set to begin June 21.
ABC 13 News has confirmed through two different union leaders, both in Roanoke and Lynchburg, that the two distribution facilities in those cities will likely stay in operation until at least early next year.
While the fate of the US Postal Service heads to a vote on Capital Hill Tuesday night, local union leaders are breathing a sigh of relief after some contractual issues appear to have saved the Roanoke and Lynchburg postmark at least through February.
"I have nothing in writing to confirm any of that but it looks as though Roanoke has just a little bit of breathing room possibly until February," said Carlton Cooper, president of American Postal Workers Union 482.
The decision was based on a verbal agreement that workers in five Virginia facilities have contract clauses prohibiting them from being transferred more than 50 miles. The distance to the facility they would go, to Greensboro, is twice that.
"The postal service does recognize this now, and so although a slim ray of hope we're thinking that may keep Roanoke in the ball game because our employees cannot be relocated more than 50 miles," said Cooper.
Meanwhile in Washington, the Senate is considering a bill that, if it passes as is, could end door-to-door postal service as well as overnight and Saturday delivery.
The postal unions do not support Senate Bill 1789 unless amendments are added that preserve those services and put a two year moratorium on facility closures.
They say that would give Congress and postal officials more time to make the difficult decisions they face regarding the future of the service.
Any success hinges on whether a third amendment passes that would allow postal employees access to a retirement fund that those employees have overpaid into.
Union leaders say those funds would be used to buyout near retirement employees, reducing staff by nearly 100,000 workers, which is the same number of employees the postal service is looking to cut.
The current moratorium on closures ends May 15.