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Postal workers protest “artificial” budget crisis at USPS

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Postal staff were among federal workers rallying today outside the US Congress in Washington DC, to protest austerity cuts.

The gathering is part of a series of rallies by federal worker groups complaining at budget cutbacks, job losses and pay freezes as the US seeks to address the spiraling national debt.

The government-wide spending cuts, known as the sequester, are targeting $85bn in savings by the end of this fiscal year.

Postal unions were complaining at the situation at the US Postal Service, where management is attempting to cut $20bn in annual operating costs by downsizing the mail processing network and restricting opening hours in rural post offices.

Addressing federal workers today, the president of the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, Jeanette Dwyer, described the $16bn-a-year losses at USPS as an “artificially-constructed budget crisis”.

She said 80% of the Postal Service losses since 2006 were caused by Congress requiring (in 2006) it to pre-fund 75 years worth of retiree benefits within a 10-year period. Allowing a more flexible payment schedule would bring it “back from the brink of destruction”, she suggested.

Dwyer described calls for USPS to modernise, and warnings about the impact of Internet communications on US mail, as “ill-informed”, and criticised service cutbacks.

The NRLCA president said: “In an already weak economy, they propose laying off tens of thousands more employees and cutting service, instead of talking about expanding service and finding new and innovative methods to generate revenue for the Postal Service.”

Dwyer accused Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe of using “questionable opinion polls” and “flimsy numbers” to persuade Congress he has the power to bring an end to Saturday mail deliveries.

“In his quest to tear apart the foundation and competitive advantage of the Postal Service, he apparently forgot to check the law, which says he is required to provide six-day mail delivery,” she said.

Issa

In Congress last week, House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said he believed USPS has the legal powers to scrap Saturday mail deliveries, meeting the Congressional requirement for six-day delivery by offering parcel deliveries on Saturdays along with Priority Mail and Express Mail services.

“I want to clarify that the authorizing language is consistent with a 6-day delivery provision in the Continuing Resolution,” he said, referring to the government-spending legislation currently being renewed, which has required six-day mail delivery since 1983.

“Specifically, this provision would not
prohibit the Postal Service from implementing this plan of modified 6-day delivery service.”

Source: Post&Parcel/NRLCA/Congressional Record

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