Workers blast threat to shut down U.S. Postal Service

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Postal Service employees say threats by the U.S. Postal Service to shut down this winter because of a $9.2 billion deficit are part of a "manufactured crisis" designed to privatize the world's largest mail delivery system.

"This crisis was created by Congress and the Postal Service back in 2006," said Jeff Levitt, an Albany, N.Y. postal worker. "Unlike any other corporate entity, the U.S. Postal service was then required to pre-fund future health care costs, forcing it to take $3 to $5 billion dollars a year out of receipts for stamps."

Levitt and others charge that the resulting artificial deficit has been, and is being used to cut back on days of delivery, length of time allowed for processing and delivery of mail and other services. They say that the government should be reimbursing the postal service but that Republican deficit hawks are opposed.

"Our situation is extremely serious," Postmaster General Patrick Donahue announced to the press today. Donahue was a leading advocate for cuts recently that would end Saturday mail delivery, close 3,700 post offices and lay off 120,000 employees, about 20 percent of the Postal Service workforce.

"The situation is dire," said Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate subcommittee that overseas the Postal Service. "If we do nothing, if we don't react in a smart, appropriate way, the postal service could literally close later this year. That's not the kind of development we need to inject into a weak, uneven economic recovery."

Without emergency congressional action, by early next year the agency could run out of money to pay workers and fill the gas tanks in its delivery vehicles.. That would halt the weekly delivery of three billion pieces of mail.

Republicans, as usual, are expected to make things even more difficult. While many of them would vote to cut Saturday delivery, for example, there are those in Congress who have resisted Postal Service management requests to do that.

The GOP is not expected to allow the Postal Service the same leeway it gives private corporations, for example, that are not required to pre-fund health care obligations to employees.

It is also not expected to grant federal funds to the service to keep it going.

Kaufmann, another Albany Postal Service worker, charged that management has already gone to the government, asking that the Postal Service be let off its contractual obligations so it can lay off those 125,000 workers. Donahue is claiming the contract should be nullified because it does not allow layoffs and that it does not provide relief when management has to pay higher labor costs. He said the Service is also suffering due to increased reliance on the Internet and because more people are paying bills on line.

"This is nothing more than a back door attempt to privatize," said Leavitt. "They have already tried to dismantle service, create private networks and contract out for substandard work for which they paid lousy wages."

In recent years the Postal Service turn over of Priority Mail to UPS, a private company, was a dismal failure, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Workers say the privatization schemes are beneficial only to a small group of investors, not to the general public.

Supporters of a government-run postal service argue that it should be run, not as a corporation but as a necessary public service. They note that Americans have been able to count on postal service since the founding of the nation.

The U.S. Postal Service traces its roots back to the U.S. constitution,, which provided for the creation of a national mail delivery system.

Photo:Creative Commons 2.0


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  • HR2309 and S1789 attack on Postal Emploees
    I understand that HR2309 will be on the House Floor sometime this August
    .Just because Issa made considerable profits as a business owner doesn’t qualify him to dictate how the Post Office should be run particularly when his solutions promoted as saving the Post Office, if enacted, would do the exact opposite.
    If Issa wants to save the USPS he should look at what expenses can be deleted without disrupting the service.
    #1. The Postal Accountable and Enhancement Act needs to be rescinded. In 2006 the PAEA ,signed by Bush, mandated that the USPS fund 75 years of retiree health benefits in 10. As the USPS was solvent before the PAEA (HR6407) was passed it stands to reason that the USPS would once again become solvent if this law was rescinded.
    #2. Overpayments the USPS has made to the Civil Service Retirement Service should be returned.
    #3. Overpayments the USPS made to FERS need to be retrieved.
    #4. Charge more for delivering UPS parcels that UPS has the Post Office deliver to places they don’t.
    #5. Adjust the ratio of managers to workers .
    But Issa, in HR2309 hasn’t proposed that any of these things .
    Issa’s solution is to cut the workforce by at least 100,000. Issa’s solution is to weaken the unions, so that Postal Workers’ wages and benefits would depend on a separate board when a contract wasn’t agreed upon by the USPS and a union.
    This is a case where Issa’s cure would cause the death of the USPS as a public service and have it revived as a business with lower paid workers, higher rates and less service.

    Posted by Paula Martin, 08/27/2012 1:12am (3 years ago)

  • As a retired postal worker and Postaster, working up through the ranks over 23 years, I along with thousands of other retired Postmasters totally condem the closing of any Rural Post Office. We, front line managers tried to tell the top managers that the PS was in for trouble with their policies and union contracts.
    This was back over 10 years ago. As usual the PS never listened to us. Instead they did just the opposite. Signed off. Then as now on contracts that increased workers pay and benefits and watered down what managers could do to lazy or bad workers. Also they changed how front line managers were paid and rewarded for doing almost impossible jobs laden with requirements to check a check for this or that . So many charts and requirements tha it made it impossible for the Postmaster to do their job in 8 hours. Yet no overtime pay. We could not discipline union workers with so much red tape that many PMs just decided it was not worth all the hassell and head aches so the quit disiplinry actions.
    As for the PS being in dire straights today. They are
    All because they refused to take action back when it could have saved itself. They and Congress are totally to blame for todays feiasco. Congress made the PS prefund all future retires health and retirement costs at to tune of roughly 7 Billion a year. Which Congress doesn't even do for their own nor is any other private or government employers required to do. Hence today's fiasco, I might add the same thing they, Congress is doing to Social Security.
    So now we have a very dire situation and what will Congress do? Argue bicker over party lines and in the end it will do nothing and the PS will have to close thousands of offices to try and break even. I am not a union basher but I will ask the Union Bosses what will you do to help before it is too late?

    Posted by Chuckatfire, 09/06/2011 7:15pm (4 years ago)

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