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Senator Bernie Sanders Statement on Postal Service Bill

bernieWASHINGTON, Aug. 2 – Sen. Bernie Sanders today issued the following statement on a Postal Service reform bill introduced late Thursday in the Senate that could end Saturday and door-to-door mail delivery and close mail processing plants:

“While I have a great deal of respect for Sens. Carper and Coburn, the Postal Service bill that they introduced is significantly weaker than the bill that passed the Senate last year with 62 votes. That makes no sense. Over a short period of time, the Carper-Coburn bill will allow the Postal Service to shut down over half of the mail processing plants in this country, end Saturday delivery and even deliver mail fewer than 5 days a week.

“In the midst of a severe recession, this bill would lead to the elimination of tens of thousands of decent-paying jobs – many of them held by military veterans. That is why I have introduced the Postal Service Protection Act with 28 cosponsors, a bill that would sustain the Postal Service, avert unnecessary closures and save American jobs. Similar legislation introduced in the House by Rep. DeFazio now has 166 cosponsors.

“The Postal Service is an institution of enormous importance to the American people. It must be preserved and protected. About 80 percent of the financial problems of the Postal Service are the result of an unprecedented and onerous mandate that forces it to pay 75 years of future retiree health benefits over a 10-year period.

“While we all understand that the Postal Service is experiencing financial problems today and that changes need to be made, providing fewer services and poorer quality is not the way to save the Postal Service. That is why I am strongly opposed to this legislation.”

Occupation of post office thwarted

From Portland Communities and Postal Workers United :

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Dozens of protesters rallied and attempted to occupy the Main Post Office on NW Hoyt this afternoon.  The protest against postal privatization was thwarted by a heavy presence of Department of Homeland Security police, Postal Inspectors and a half dozen postal managers standing inside the post office lobby.  Senior plant manager, Lisa Shear, herself a target of the protest, came out to warn activists that she would have them immediately arrested if they stepped foot inside the lobby. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Update on the Privatization of the U.S. Post Office

Postal activist Jamie Partridge on “A Growing Concern”

The End of Saturday Service? BPR Looks at the Fate of the USPS

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.

PMG expected to make a major announcement on USPS restructuring Wednesday

Update: According to the Associated Press, the announcement will be the end of regular Saturday mail deliveries.

pat-donahoe-largeLast 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.

Postal hunger strikers declare victory, end fast

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.

Boehner admits postal “crisis” is phony

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.

via House GOP: Uncertainty over Post Office finances delaying reforms – The Hill's On The Money.

Pre-funding aside, USPS could run low on cash this October

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 »

Retiring Postmaster says POStPlan is a step towards eliminating universal service

The following letter was submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission by Mark Jamison, Postmaster of Webster NC, who is retiring today. Mark is a frequent commenter on this site and others:

Commissioners,

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 »

APWU: Congress’ Failure Pushes USPS to Brink of Default

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 »