The Lawrence postmaster says he doesn't anticipate great changes in mail delivery times despite concerns of the local mail carriers' union.
Lawrence postal carriers next week will be picketing what they believe are disastrous policies being instituted by the U.S. Postal Service.
The carriers are upset about the Postal Service's new automated letter-sorting system, which they say will lead to later residential delivery times in Lawrence beginning in August.
"We like automation; we want to (deliver mail) better and faster," said Kris Fox, president of Lawrence branch No. 104 of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
"The only thing we object to is we need to handle it first."
The picket will be held from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of the main post office, 645 Vt.
Currently, Fox said, letter carriers sort most mail before they deliver it.
In August, automated sorting machines will be installed at the main post office and at the new Jayhawk substation near 31st and Ousdahl, she said.
Fox said that because of the automation, carriers won't receive their mail bundles until later in the day.
She said letter carriers would be forced to sort mail on their routes, including forwarded mail or mail that is not properly sorted by machines.
Delivery to some residences won't be until 5 p.m. or later, she warned.
But Lawrence Postmaster Bill Reynolds said he didn't anticipate major changes in mail delivery times.
"The service-oriented goals of our carriers are the same as the service-oriented goals of the post office," he said.
Carriers now spend three to four hours sorting mail. That time mostly would be eliminated, he said, giving carriers more time to deliver the mail.
"The mail might get here a little later, say at 6 a.m. rather than 2 a.m. ... but I don't think there will be a major delay in delivery," he said.
But Reynolds said the new system may create some short-term problems that will have to be worked out.
Fox said carriers at the picket will be handing out fliers and answering questions people might have. All of Lawrence's 83 full-time carriers are members of the union.
"The unions do have the right to conduct informational picketing," Reynolds said. "The Postal Service doesn't necessarily agree with their views, but we agree with their right to picket if they choose."
Reynolds said the picket will not affect mail delivery.