APWU seeks council influence to change USPS facility name

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK — City council tabled a request by the American Postal Workers Union to support a name change for the mail processing center located here.

The Detroit District Area Local of the APWU wants to honor Steny Yu — a maintenance-craft postal worker — after he suffered a fatal injury on the job. John Merritt, special assistant to the union, said renaming the Detroit Network Distribution Center, 17500 Oakwood Blvd., to reflect Yu’s name would be a fitting and lasting memorial act. Merritt requested the council propose and pass a resolution requesting the name change for the facility and his name remain in the title as long as the facility remains.

To rename a facility of that scale, Merritt said, the union would require a recommendation from the council to the federal legislative bodies to make that change. He said the council recommendation would be a step in the right direction because the facility is in the city.

Gordon Trowbridge, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), said the APWU would need to obtain a recommendation for the name change from the council since the facility is located with the city. The change would need to be evaluated by a U.S. senator and a U.S. representative, he said, and a resolution would have to be sponsored, presented and approved by both legislative bodies.

A 5-2 vote tabled the discussion indefinitely and included a vote by Mayor Matakas. Councilman Angelo Deguilio voted against tabling the decision for a later date because he said to take part in this decision would be an honor. Councilman Larry Templin also voted against waiting on the decision, but gave no reason.

The other members said they do not have enough information before them and would like to do some research and revisit the proposal during the Sept. 10 council meeting because they were not satisfied with the information presented by the APWU. They agreed more information was required before they vote to ensure the right decision is made.

The majority shared concern about the possibility of any legal action taken against the Unites States Postal Service. Two councilors spoke out during the discussion of the proposal — Councilmen Harry Sisko and Dennis Hayes — and Sisko said he wanted to be sure any support of the name change would not be misconstrued.

The input from management of the postal facility would be welcome, Hayes said, because he would like to hear if they support the change. He said it would show whether the union and Postal Service were on the same page.

“(The management) supporting the name change would show there is agreement between that facility and the union, which would make my decision easier,” he said.

Yu transferred to the facility in 2005. He
sustained the fatal head injury after a fall from a ladder during a fire drill July 23, 2012. He was 55 years old at the time of the incident. No other employee has died from work-related injuries in the facility since it opened in 1975, Merrit said.

“Nobody expects to leave for work and never come back,” Merritt said. “We believe it would be suitable and fitting that as a lasting memorial act, the present Detroit NDC be renamed the Steny Yu Network Distribution Center.”

The last local post office to be renamed was the Detroit Processing and Distribution Center, 1401 W. Fort St. in Detroit. The facility was renamed the George W. Young Post Office in 1993.

Young, younger brother to former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, was a 20-year employee for the Detroit district of the Postal Service and was said to be a founder of the APWU-Detroit local. In the 1970s, Young served as assistant postmaster for the Detroit Regional Post Office. He was the first African-American to hold that position.

When contacted, the Allen Park NDC management said they had no knowledge of any attempts by the Postal Service or any postal union to rename the facility for any reason and could not comment. APWU officials were not available for comment by press time.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)