WICHITA — There's another twist on the possible Department for Children and Families lease at 2601 S. Oliver, which has been a remote encoding center for the U.S. Postal Service.
The postal service is winding down those operations – its lease expires in September 2015 – but now it's planning a call center for the space.
"The U.S. Postal Service has completed its posting process and is now training the first group of hires for the new Customer Care Center that will go on line in Wichita, KS in July 2014," postal spokesman Brian Sperry said in an e-mail statement. The postal service is still in this building at 2601 S. Oliver, and the state is still negotiating to move in, but it's unclear what will happen with the space. The remote encoding center has been at the space for two decades. At one time there were more than 1,000 employees there. Now, there are 251 career employees left, meaning employees who are guaranteed jobs.
"Through a memorandum of understanding with union representatives, 251 jobs were posted through a senior bidding process with all Remote Encoding Center employees eligible to submit for the available positions and no external recruitment was conducted," Sperry wrote. "The newest Customer Care Center will operate out of the former Remote Encoding Center site."
Sperry wouldn't say if the postal service is trying to renegotiate for a longer lease or if it's looking for a possible new site for the call center.
"The statement is all we have to report."
Jan Manlove, the secretary and treasurer of the American Postal Workers Union Area Local 735, says the union's "business agent had been working long and hard to get a call center."
She says on the same day the postal service signed the call center agreement, it measured space at Hutchinson and Ponca City post offices to see if the call center could locate at either one.
"Our union, No. 1, wants to keep the jobs here in Wichita," Manlove says.