An Attack on the Postal Services

Dave Duncan

 In a December 2011 meeting to review and get comments on the proposed closing of the Binghamton Regional Processing Center, many local residents spoke out against the plan. No one spoke for it.
The closing of neighborhood post offices has proven to be an attack on the poor, disabled, and those elderly using a PO Box, as well as others who depend on the Postal Services and do not have access to any others. The threatened closing of area processing centers will mean three day instead of overnight delivery causing additional hardships and the loss of 35,000 jobs nationally. Seventy-five jobs would be lost in the Binghamton area. Carolyn Laskowski attended the meeting to protest the layoff of people. “I am here to fight so that people don’t lose their jobs”.
Diane Mulcahy said that “poor people will get nailed for late fees when overnight delivery becomes three or four day delivery. Living pay check to pay check doesn’t allow for sending checks in earlier.”
Michael Eggleston, a disabled veteran raised the problem that 3-4 day delivery for people who need prescriptions.” It would raise the cost and delay the delivery of prescriptions”.
The postal service is one of the oldest and most reliable services in the United States. It is an efficient and inexpensive service to run.  Mailing a letter from NY to Hawaii costs only 44 cents.  The total cost of the USPS comes from the sale of stamps. It is not subsidized by the taxpayers.
Why is Our Government Cutting Postal Service?
We are constantly being fed the story that the USPS is broke and we need to balance the budget. This story is not true. It is a budget game that has been created by our government to break the one last Federal union. The volume of mail has declined but the USPS is not losing money.
In 2006 Congress insisted that the postal service fully fund retiree health care costs for the next 75 years. This 75 year bill would have to be paid in the next ten year period. No other agency, service, corporation or organization in this country can do this. The USPS is being forced to fund retiree health care costs for people that have not yet been born. Michael Eggleston said “if it were not for this 2006 legislation the USPS would be ok now. If rates increased, just by the rate of inflation, there would be no problem.”
The Postal Regulatory Commission requested an independent audit for the USPS. The audit revealed that there has been over $50 billion above projected cost paid into the pension account. Another audit put this over paid pension figure at $75 billion. By  putting it into the health care account and, at no cost to the taxpayers, we can continue with Saturday deliveries, and not close mail processing centers or lay off 120,000 workers.
Who Doesn’t Get Hurt?
Maureen Johnson said that “regular consumers are being punished but not bulk mailers. My rate will go up to 45 cents for 3-4 day delivery but bulk mailing rates do not increase and the bulk mailers can still get overnight delivery. Overnight service for small business will increase”.
Last May the American Postal Workers Union bargaining team reached an agreement that would save $4 billion a year over the life of the contract. The Post Master, at that time, called the contract a victory for the Postal Service and the people that it served. “We have what I believe to be, the most efficient, inexpensive postal system in the world. It employs 575,000 union members. It is the second largest employer in the US.”
The attack on the Postal Service is not one of deficits. It is the result of efforts to bust a union, eliminate jobs that pay a decent wage and in the end privatize a business so that some corporation can make a profit. The USPS was never established to make a profit. It was established to provide a service to the people.

Proposed Legislation

 Maurice Hinchey, representing the 22Congressional District, New York has introduced legislation that would stop Postal Service layoff and service reductions. The bill would fix the Postal Service’s financial crisis  by allowing the USPS to recover the $50 billion to $75 billion overpayment to the Civil Service Retirement System and also eliminate the unique requirement that the USPS pre-fund 75 years worth of future retiree health benefits in just 10 years.
The bill would, among things, also prevent the closure of rural post offices, protect six-day mail delivery and protect mail-processing facilities.
While Mr. Hinchey’s proposed legislation would solve this attack on our postal services it is important that this fight be continued on the grass roots level with some leadership from the Postal Unions. Trusting a Congress that has an approval rating of less than 20% with Americans is not a good bet. People must support vigorously the proposed legislation and stop the attacks on basic services.





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