Letter carriers campaign to save postal service

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WASHINGTON - With Congress home for a two-week Easter-Passover recess, the Letter Carriers and other postal unions have seized the opportunity to campaign - and to get citizens to campaign - to save the Postal Service.

The National Association of Letter Carriers plans a National Day of Action on Apr. 12 at senators' offices nationwide, while the Postal Workers will fan out with leafleting on Apr. 17.

The Letter Carriers' campaign is targeted at influencing Senate consideration, now scheduled for mid-April after the recess, of S1789, a so-called "compromise" postal reform bill. NALC says S1789 would be little improvement over Postal Service plans to kill Saturday delivery, close hundreds of mail sorting centers, and cut 220,000 jobs, half by attrition and half by firing. USPS says it needs those moves to close its deficit.

And NALC says the postal "reform" bill pushed by the ruling House GOP would completely dismantle the USPS. House Republicans would appoint a financial overseer over the Postal Service, who would have the power to unilaterally raise rates, close post offices, cut delivery, fire workers, and trash union contracts. USPS management supports that drastic GOP approach, Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando says.

"The Senate is considering legislation that would do more harm than good in returning the Postal Service to fiscal solvency," an NALC alert says. "While Congress debates the future of the Postal Service, employees are intervening on behalf of the American people to protect the USPS and to assure that the services provided to the public aren't degraded.

"What is needed is a business plan for the future that provides services needed by an evolving society, as opposed to simply cutting - which would serve only to drive people away from the Postal Service, reduce revenues, and ultimately destroy one of America's oldest and most important agencies.

"The Postal Service affects every resident and business, and so what happens to it is of great local as well as national importance. Loss of Saturday delivery, door-to-door delivery, and the radical downsizing of the USPS would dismantle a beloved institution that has served the nation for more than 235 years and that remains our only universal delivery and communications network." It concludes: "Postal reform is needed, but the solution is not S1789."

NALC supports alternative legislation, creating a business plan for the agency while keeping delivery and workers, proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., and 26 others. And if S1789 is bad, the House GOP's legislation is far worse, Rolando says.

"It's disappointing that the postmaster general would so readily embrace legislation that threatens to dismantle USPS piece-by-piece and that has very little support in the House," Rolando said after the Postmaster General told lawmakers in late March that "practically everything" in the House bill was acceptable.

"Congress needs to do its part to create legislation that will strengthen and improve the U.S. Postal Service as an essential component of American infrastructure," Rolando said.

"Unfortunately, the Issa-Ross (House GOP) bill would do neither. It would, in fact, degrade and destroy the USPS."

Details of local protest plans are available at the NALC website.

Photo: James Partridge, from the National Association of Letter Carriers, demonstrates in Portland, Ore. Rick Bowmer/AP

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