Rosen slams ‘unacceptable’ plan for Reno mail facility

FILE - Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., listens during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces to examine United States Space Force programs in review of the Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Authorization Request, March 14, 2023, in Washington. Rosen announced Monday, March 4, 2024, at a union hall in Las Vegas that she has officially filed for reelection in a presidential battleground state that is a top GOP target in a challenging 2024 Senate map. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

By Casey Harrison

April 11, 2024

The proposed retooling of a USPS facility in Reno would reroute Nevadans’ mail through California and make it harder to get vital mail in a timely fashion. It could also eliminate jobs.

Dozens of United States Postal Service workers based in and around northern Nevada could see their jobs eliminated should the agency follow through with plans to repurpose a Reno mail processing facility, Nevada US Sen. Jacky Rosen told reporters Thursday.

Rosen, a Democrat, lamented to reporters about what she called an “unacceptable” proposal after meeting earlier in the day with USPS executives and other members of Nevada’s congressional delegation to discuss the potential downsizing, which the senator said could begin as soon as January of next year.

The USPS in February unveiled plans to repurpose the Reno Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) into a so-called Local Processing Center (LPC) — which would shift the plant’s operations from a focus on processing and distributing mail to instead being a sorting center for individual mail carrier routes.

“This proposal is yet another example of bureaucratic Washington decisions that are made without prior local input,” Rosen said, adding that up to 63 jobs could be eliminated. “It is wrong and it must be stopped.”

Such a retooling would leave the facility in Sacramento, California, as the next-closest P&DC to service addresses across much of northern Nevada. Officials on both sides of the aisle say rerouting Nevadans’ mail through California is an unnecessary step that could hinder the timely delivery of vital parcels such as prescription drugs and federal benefits, such as Social Security checks, while also impacting small business commerce.

“You can’t tell me sending things to Sacramento and then sending it back is really gonna save us any time,” Rosen said.

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If turned into a PLC, the Reno plant would be outfitted with new sorting equipment to better streamline package distribution capabilities, USPS spokesperson Rod Spurgeon told The Nevadan. The proposed changes are part of a larger 10-year $40 billion modernization strategy that could result in up to $14 million in investments in the facility for modernization and new vehicle infrastructure. It would also save the Postal Service upwards of $4 million annually, Spurgeon said.

“Throughout the study process, we have welcomed input and dialogue such as this,” Spurgeon said in a statement. “This transparent, methodical approach helps us make the right decisions for the future of service to the American public.”

Rosen’s meeting Thursday with the USPS follows a letter she and others from Nevada’s delegation wrote in February to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — who was appointed in 2020 and widely seen as an ally of former President Donald Trump — requesting a briefing on the proposed downsizing.

Nevada Democratic US Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican US Rep. Mark Amodei also attended the meeting, but Rosen said the USPS failed to give clear answers on a number of key issues.

Rosen said she and the other lawmakers pressed USPS officials on a number of issues, including how it would ensure continued service through inclement weather. But they did not get a straight answer, Rosen said.

“I was looking to receive detailed explanations of how the Postal Service came to this decision and what kind of impact that would have on local jobs as a result of downsizing,” Rosen said. “[But] we were provided no details of how the USPS plans to meet service standards for Nevada. No data. No details. Just assertions.”

Rosen continued: “The executives from USPS who briefed us continue to make excuses. They avoided answering many questions directly or providing any data at all. And they failed to convince our delegation how this proposal would actually be good for our Nevada families.”

Reno and Sacramento are roughly 164 miles apart but are linked via Interstate 80, which runs through a stretch of the Sierra Nevada mountains known as Donner Pass. That stretch in particular can at times be impassable due to heavy snow and rain storms or traffic crashes, Rosen said. The area received as much as 10 feet of snow during a blizzard last month.

The USPS standard for receiving and delivering local mail around Reno is between two and three days, a spokesperson told the Las Vegas Sun in March, which Rosen says the postal service already struggles to meet.

Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar sent a separate letter to DeJoy in February highlighting similar concerns, but added that the changes could have an outsize impact on the state’s elections, which have been conducted primarily via mail balloting since 2020. Among the reasons Aguilar urged DeJoy to not follow through with the plan was that such a back-and-forth trek takes Nevada ballots out of their original jurisdiction and could put in jeopardy the ability to have ballots submitted near Election Day postmarked in time to be legally counted.

“This has the potential to disenfranchise thousands of Nevada voters and would unquestionably impact the results of Nevada’s elections,” Aguilar wrote back in February.

Rosen on Thursday said even if the plan were implemented, it would have no bearing on this year’s Nov. 5 general election, but could impact how officials administer future elections.

Rosen said it’s unclear what tools the federal government could use to prevent DeJoy’s modernization proposals from going into effect. Although it is taxpayer funded, the USPS has acted independently of the executive branch since 1971.

DeJoy is scheduled to testify Tuesday in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Rosen sits on. She said she expects DeJoy to have more comprehensive answers about the Reno proposal then.

“Keep Nevada’s mail in Nevada,” Rosen said. “We’re going to make sure that they respect Nevada and respect our businesses.”

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

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