They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again: Greensboro city council members passed a resolution to try and keep the Four Seasons Mall post office open and to restore the extended operating hours, similar to a failed attempt to keep the Banking Street location off Battleground open.
“When the post office closed at Banking Street, it really was a problem for people and businesses,” at-large Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan said. “It’s a true inconvenience for everyone.”
The cost associated with changing PO box addresses for businesses and the subsequent overcrowding of other post offices had a negative impact on customers, and since employees were relocated Vaughan said she didn’t think the move saved much money. The Four Seasons location is one of the few passport sites in town, and the wait for an appointment to apply for a passport is already way too long, which is just one of the reasons Vaughan said she opposed the possible closure.
After hearing from former postal workers, customers and the current president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 711, council voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.
Postal workers have been publicly fighting closures locally for months, receiving strong support as the marched in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Greensboro in January. A dozen postal employees and their supporters attended the council meeting for the May 1 vote.
Carl Walton, a spokesman for the US Postal Service in the Greensboro area, said that no office was under consideration “until after May 15” when a moratorium on closures and consolidations ends.
“It is not slated to close,” Walton wrote in an email. “If it ever is, there is a process to be fol lowed that includes customer feedback.”
A sign on the Four Seasons post office says the postal service agreed to delay the closing “of any Post Office or mail processing facility until May 15, 2012.” Later in a telephone interview, Walton acknowledged that the Four Seasons location had been considered for closure, but wouldn’t say why.
“There may have been talk about it before but there is nothing official on the agenda or in the plans to have it closed,” he said. “Every part of our operation is always under review to see if we can do things in a more efficient manner, in a way that we can keep costs down and keep them from transferring to the customer.”
Mayor Robbie Perkins, who brought the resolution forward, said it couldn’t hurt to be proactive and try to keep all of the city’s post offices open. Perkins said he does not know whether the postal service will try to close the Four Seasons location after May 15, but said he is hopeful it will stay open.
“It’s an issue of service in the community,” he said. “There are a lot of people who were upset when Banking Street was closed.”
At-large Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter used to frequent the Four Seasons location, which was usually open until 9 p.m. and operated seven days a week until a number of cuts were implemented.
“My understanding was that there was a list of those that would be closed and Four Seasons was not on that list as of December but then it was on a list,” she said. “Usually employees and other postal workers have a good sense of what is going on in the organization. I hope [the postal service] realizes the truly valuable service this has to our community, especially with the extended hours.”
Abuzuaiter said she hopes the postal service recognizes there is a community outcry to keep the location open and won’t try to close it after May 15.
Greensboro resident and NC Area Four
representative of the National Association of
Letter Carriers Richard Kortiz requested that
council modify the language of the resolution
to request that the extended hours be restored as
well and that a copy be sent to the postmaster
general and the chair of the Postal Regulatory
Council accepted both of the changes.
resolution already called on the congressional
delegation for the area work to ensure the Four
Seasons location remains open.
Some retired postal workers said they see the
potential closure, which was just one of more
than 3,700 nationwide recommended by the
postmaster general, as part of a pattern of attacks
on the public service that could ultimately
eliminate it and pave the way for private delivery
companies to take over.
“The postal service is on a suicide mission
from within,” OW Sweeney said. “Across this
country, if the post offi ce closed they would do
the people a terrible disservice.”
Sweeney, who spoke to council, expected the
resolution to pass but was shocked that the vote
The Four Seasons location is a microcosm
of what is happening to the postal service
across the country, retired Local 711 president
Mark Diamondstein said. He was there when
the Four Seasons offi ce opened more than
20 years ago and has watched the cuts over
time. Sunday service was the fi rst to go, then
Wednesday and now the offi ce closes at 5 p.m.
There’s a national push to close more
than 3,700 post offi ces, to cut back from six to
fi ve under attack nationwide,” Diamondstein
said. “The motivation is the people who want
to make a profi t on it.”
Koritz agreed, and said people on Wall Street
want to get rich off dismantling and privatizing
the postal system.
“Wall Street, at least a signifi cant portion of
it, is interested in getting a hold of this trillion
dollar postal industry,” Koritz said. “Postmaster
General Donahue is clearly trying to dismantle
the postal service. He’s working for some
of these forces. It’s one more thing that
Wall Street is trying to take away from the
The postmaster general is appointed by the postal board of governors, which is appointed by the US president. Some, including Abuzuaiter, said they had been told business at the Four Seasons offi ce slowed down, but that it correlated with the cuts in service, not in demand. The location is now closed Sunday and Wednesday and has restricted hours. Last Wednesday three people separately arrived at the post offi ce in less than fi ve minutes, not realizing it would be closed. Wearing a Korean War veteran hat, Thurman Brigman said he uses the Four Seasons offi ce regularly. “It’s close to me in my home,” he said.
“[There’s] no sense in me driving fi ve miles
and having to wait.”
Opponents of the potential closure believe
residents like Brigman will indeed wait in
long lines at other locations and are already
lacking access to the postal service at convenient
times — namely after 4 p.m. considering
other locations have cut back service
Diamondstein and other former postal workers
said they were hopeful they could defeat the
closure and restore hours at the Four Seasons
site, but said they only thought it would
succeed if more customers joined them. He
applauded council’s unanimous support, and
said the Four Seasons post offi ce was one of
the most unique offi ces in the country in terms
of what it offered customers.
Yet beyond service to patrons, there is more at stake nationally, he said. “In the heart of this economic crisis… if these changes go through, there will be hundreds of thousands of good jobs lost,” Diamondstein said, adding that the postal service is customer — and not taxpayer — funded. “We should always remember that the post offi ce is fi rst and foremost a public service, the people’s post office.”‘Usually employees and other postal workers have a good sense of what is going on in the organization. I hope [the postal service] realizes the truly valuable service this has to our community, especially with the extended hours.’
Greensboro City Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter