It doesn't look like the U.S. Postal Service's mail-handling center in Pasco will postmark letters after June 28.
"That's the target date," said Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson. "It's not set in concrete just yet."
The date when operations are moved to Spokane still can be delayed, though it won't likely be any sooner than June 28, Swanson said.
Pasco's mail-handling center is one of three in Eastern Washington to have its operations consolidated into the Spokane facility, but is expected to close sooner than those in Wenatchee and Yakima. The post office in the same location on West Court Street in Pasco will remain open.
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The impact on jobs hasn't been determined, he said, but officials have spoken with employees in Pasco.
"They know that some jobs may be impacted, that they may want to look for other jobs in the area," Swanson said. "Or if they are in a position to retire, they might want to look at that."
The change could affect eight clerks, eight electrical technicians, two maintenance mechanics and possibly a few custodians, said John Michael Wald, local American Postal Workers Union president. The union contract, which runs through 2015, forbids involuntary layoffs or furloughs.
Management has told Wald it plans to keep the workers within a 50-mile radius of the Tri-Cities, he said. That could mean switching maintenance mechanics over to driving mail routes, even though the mechanics make between a quarter and a third more than the drivers.
"That's what the union's position has been -- that there's not going to be a savings realized," he said.
The union doesn't plan to allow layoffs when the contract expires in 2015, Wald said.
"Every contract we have, we include language that protects employees against involuntary layoffs," he said.
The Postal Service has said that closing the mail-handling facility is expected to save $800,000 a year. However, Wald said the change will cost $2 million more in transportation costs to and from Spokane.
Customers will have to get their mail in earlier if they want to see it leave town on the same day, Wald said. The last pickup time for mail in the Tri-Cities might be 1:30 p.m., compared with 5 p.m. now, with even earlier pickups in outlying communities like Waitsburg and Prescott.
Swanson, however, said that local post office locations will still pick up mail for same-day delivery to Spokane by 5 p.m., and the Postal Service may have 5 p.m. pickups in other high traffic areas.
The change also could mean that all mail picked up by carriers on their routes will have to wait overnight before it is shipped to Spokane, Wald said.
Swanson acknowledged that customers likely will see some service changes, but said the post office will do its best to deliver mail sent from one Tri-Cities address to another overnight.