Postal activist Jamie Partridge on “A Growing Concern”
Postal activist Jamie Partridge on “A Growing Concern”
On Wednesday the Postmaster General of the United States Patrick Donahoe announced the end of Saturday delivery — or so it seemed. It turns out the USPS needs congressional approval to cut service.
According to Steve Hutkins, who runs the blog Save the Post Office, the Postmaster’s announcement amounts to the proverbial "trial balloon." Postal unions reacted strongly, as did lawmakers and members of the public.
Read more, and listen to the audio interview: The End of Saturday Service? BPR Looks at the Fate of the USPS | WGBH News.
Update: According to the Associated Press, the announcement will be the end of regular Saturday mail deliveries.
Last month the USPS Bord of Governors directed the Postmaster General to accelerate the restructuring of USPS operations in response to the service’s precarious financial situation. The PMG has scheduled a press conference at USPS Headquarters for Wednesday at 10 AM EST to make a major announcement regarding those restructuring plans.
The somewhat quixotic postal hunger strikers say they’ve declared “victory” and ended their fast:
Completing the sixth day of their hunger strike to save six day delivery, five postal workers broke their fast and declared a “people’s victory”. “Along with hundreds of thousands of postal workers and our community allies who have been battling for years to save America’s postal service, we were able raise awareness and increase pressure on the decision-makers as they attempted to wrangle back-room deals,” said hunger striker Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier from Portland, Oregon. The strikers established an “emergency” encampment on the National Mall Monday, demanding that Congress and the President halt closures and cuts to the U.S. Postal Service.
“The lame duck is still threatening to cripple the postal eagle,” declared Partridge, acknowledging that Congress will reconvene after the Christmas holiday. Six day mail delivery is on the chopping block, according to Representative Darrell Issa, Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Tom Carper who are engaged in secret postal reform negotiations. One of the hunger strikers, John Dennie, a retired mail handler from New York, was arrested in Issa’s office Thursday for refusing to leave until the Congressman pledged to save six day mail delivery.
Friday afternoon, the postal hunger strikers paraded with a horse and carriage from the Postal Museum, up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House to celebrate the 237 year history of the postal service and 150 years of Saturday delivery (city free delivery was established 1863). They attempted to deliver a giant postcard calling on Obama to use his veto power to save six day mail delivery. President Obama has twice allowed for cutting to five day delivery in budget proposals. “We helped elect Obama and he owes us,” said Ken Lerch, a local letter carriers union president.
Cutting mail delivery to five days will eliminate 80,000 postal jobs, according to postal unions. The hunger strikers claim the cuts would gut service and send the postal service into a death spiral. “We will not stand by as our beloved postal service is destroyed,” said Tom Dodge, hunger striker, postal worker from Baltimore, and a coordinator of Communities and Postal Workers United (CPWU).
Last June, ten CPWU activists staged a hunger strike declaring that Congress was starving the postal service. The activists claim that a 2006 Congressional mandate, which forces the USPS to prefund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance, is bankrupting the service. Not only would the postal service have been profitable without the mandate, say the strikers, the USPS has also overpaid tens of billions into two pension funds.
“Not the internet, not private competition, not labor costs, not the recession – Congress is responsible for the postal mess” said Kevin Cole, a return hunger striker and postal maintenance worker from California. “Corporate interests, working through their friends in Congress and the Presidency, want to undermine the USPS, bust the unions then privatize it.”
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced in mid-May that he would close half the mail sorting plants in the country and cut hours from 25 – 75% in half the nation’s post offices, over a two year period. Thirteen thousand jobs have already been eliminated and delivery standards relaxed. “Extensive disruption has resulted from these plant closures,” said Dennie. The hunger strikers delivered evidence Friday morning to the Postal Board of Governors documenting the PMG’s criminal delay and obstruction of the mail and calling for his prosecution. The strikers are calling on postal management to suspend cuts and closures and allow Congress to fix the finances by repealing the prefunding mandate and refunding the pension surplus.
It has become obvious over the last few months that Darrell Issa doesn’t have the votes from his own party to pass his bill to more or less dismantle the US Postal Service as we know it. Rural voters who tend to vote Republican also seem to be pretty attached to their post offices. (Sort of like the teabaggers who rail against socialism as they cash their Social Security checks!)
According to The Hill, though, there’s another reason the House GOP hasn’t acted- they apparently remembered that the “crisis” wasn’t a real crisis!
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested, in his last news conference before Congress broke for August, that the House had delayed dealing with postal reform because USPS was able to keep its head above water.
“The postal legislation, there’s a lot of conversation about it,” Boehner said Thursday. “But, you know, these missed payments are not going to affect the ability of the post office to do its job.”
When you keep repeating phrases like “losing $25 million a day” constantly, you can forget that it’s just an arbitrary number you and your cronies conjured up back in 2006, not actual cash going out the door.
It’s refreshing to see that Boehner has dropped the pretense that there’s an imminent postal “crisis”. Unfortunately for the USPS, its employees and business partners, though, it probably means that Congress will do nothing about the USPS until there really is a genuine cash crisis- by which time it may be too late.
The US Postal Service’s Inspector General has released a report confirming the postal service’s contention that it could run short of operating cash as soon as this October. The shortfall is possible even without considering the PAEA pre-funding payments the agency will default on. Read the rest of this entry »
I am not an intervener in this docket. I understand that these comments cannot become a part of the record and may not have an impact on your deliberations in this case. I hope however that you will read them and give them some thought even if they do not add to the weight of your decision. Read the rest of this entry »
The failure of House Republican leaders to take action to resolve the congressionally-manufactured USPS financial crisis has brought the Postal Service to the brink of default, APWU President Cliff Guffey is warning union members. A $5.5 billion payment is due to the U.S. Treasury on Aug. 1, but the Postal Service cannot make the payment. Read the rest of this entry »
Office of Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) News Release
Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, along with Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Kent Conrad (D-ND), are urging Senate committee leaders to consider Western states and rural communities when exploring potential reforms to the U.S. Postal Service.
“We think a long-term viable postal service must be placed on a secure financial trajectory while protecting the important role that USPS plays in rural America,” the senators wrote in the letter to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the subcommittee dealing with the Postal Service. Read the rest of this entry »
The APWU has launched a new TV ad that salutes our nation’s “real life heroes” and points out that a bill pending in the House of Representatives would force the USPS to fire tens of thousands of military veterans.
The ad, which is co-sponsored by the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, urges viewers to tell their representatives in Congress to vote no on H. R. 2309 when it comes to the House floor for a vote.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), was approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Oct. 13. It would force the Postal Service to lay off workers, including veterans who served our nation.
The ad says, “Our nation’s veterans are real-life heroes. But when they come home, they don’t want a parade, they want a job.”
“The Postal Service employs more veterans than any other civilian employer,” the spot notes.
“But Congress is debating a bill that would force the Postal Service to fire tens of thousands of vets, close post offices, shut mail processing plants, and disrupt mail delivery. Drastic cuts won’t fix the postal service and aren’t needed,” the ad continues.
The ad concludes with a call to action, “Tell your representative to vote ‘no’ on House Resolution 2309. It’s time to deliver for our veterans – and America.”
The Postal Service announced in August that it wants to reduce the workforce by 220,000, and is seeking authority to lay off as many as 120,000 workers. H.R. 2309 would grant authority to a newly-established control board to carry out such layoffs, despite any provisions in union contracts that limit these actions. It also calls for $3 billion worth of cuts in post offices and mail processing facilities within two years.
If 120,000 postal workers were laid off, approximately 26,000 veterans would be affected.
The APWU has denounced H.R. 2309 as a “reckless assault on postal services and postal employees.”
“H.R. 2309 would destroy the Postal Service as we know it,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “In the process, it would devastate many dedicated workers, including thousands of military veterans.
“We are asking members of the public who value the contributions made by our military veterans to tell their House representatives to oppose H.R. 2309,” Guffey said.
The ad will run on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News for approximately one week. It also will air on broadcast networks in several media markets.
The TV ad is a part of a broader campaign to oppose destructive legislation such as H.R. 2309 and to build support for legislation that would address the cause of the USPS financial crisis and restore financial stability to the cash-strapped agency.