National Association of Letter Carriers holds pivotal national convention in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS, July 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The National Association of Letter Carriers is holding its 68th biennial convention all week in Minneapolis, with a major goal of the 9,100 delegates being to help forge a path to financial success for the United States Postal Service.

The NALC’s convention is the largest of any union in the AFL-CIO, and delegates will hear from several national political leaders.

Given the lack of political and postal leadership in Washington, it is up to letter carriers to help point the way forward, NALC President Fredric Rolando said. With first-class mail declining in volume, the Postal Service faces financial challenges, but at the same time a rapid increase in parcels and packages offers ways to serve residents and businesses while boosting postal revenue, President Rolando said.

“We have the potential to reinvent the Postal Service and become a dominant player in the package and e-commerce delivery business,” Rolando said, but “the Postal Service’s current strategy to dismantle and degrade its last mile network by eliminating Saturday and door-to-door delivery will destroy this potential.”

Several legislative proposals in Congress would dismantle that network, as would postal management’s “shrink to survive” strategy, President Rolando said. “We must be the driving force with respect to innovation. Nobody has more at stake than the men and women who deliver the mail,” Rolando added.

During the week, delegates will take up the issue of endorsements, including in the presidential election.

For 30 years, the Postal Service has been self-supporting and has not taken a dime of taxpayer money. The red ink it now faces is largely attributable (to the tune of 85 percent) to a 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS do something no other agency or company has to do — pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years.

Without that unaffordable mandate, the Postal Service has come close to breaking even, despite the worst recession in 80 years.

Monday’s speakers include: Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who also serves as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee; Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton; Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. President Obama gave a videotaped address on Monday, and other political and labor figures will speak throughout the week, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

In opening the convention Monday morning, President Rolando spoke of the special place Minneapolis occupies in American history, including civil rights and labor.